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Copyright 2019. Divorce Mediation Training, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 

 Agenda Day 1


08:30 - 09:15:  Course overview and introductions


09:15 -10:30:   What divorce mediation is and what divorce mediators do


Participants identify the skill sets they possess in their fields of practice that enable them to assist divorcing spouses through the painful divorce process by minimizing hostility within the family structure. The significance of practice wisdom is highlighted in the provision of divorce mediation services.


10:30 -10:45:   Morning Break


10:45 – 12:00   Law 101 for the Mental Health Professional – Understanding the Litigation Process in Divorce Proceedings


 Participants receive basic training on the divorce litigation process so that they can better understand the path their patients/clients are/might/will travel if/when they are unable to reach conciliation and accord through mediation sessions. 


12:00 – 12:30   Distinguishing litigation from mediation and other forms of conflict resolution, including arbitration and the collaborative approach to divorce. Ethical questions regarding representing a party as both lawyer and mediation advocate.


Participants are trained on forms of conflict resolution techniques other than mediation for the purpose of understanding the broad spectrum of amicable and peaceful options available to their patients/clients when divorce is inevitable. The core strength of self-determination in the mediation process is discussed.


12:30 – 01:30   Lunch break


01:30 – 02:45   When mediation is not appropriate, including group exercise on bias and ethical dilemmas.


Domestic violence, substance abuse, child abuse and/or neglect, imbalance of power and other circumstances are discussed and identified for purposes of screening inappropriate candidates for mediation. The legal reporting obligation of social workers is explained.


A group exercise considering the identification of bias when mediating acase involving a divorcing couple and available options for handling bias is performed.


Cultural and diversity sensitivity are considered in the context of divorce mediation.


02:45 – 03:00   Introduction of the divorce mediation process to divorcing spouses


Participants learn how to communicate the potential for, and significance of, self determinism in the divorce mediation process to patients/clients.


03:00 -0 3:15   Afternoon Break


03:15 - 03:45   The Mediation Contract – psychological and legal purposes; Review and execution of the mediation contract with clients


Participants learn how to help patients/clients in mediation sessions come to recognize the responsibilities associated with self determinism in the agreements and disclosures they make in working though the process of making decisions for their children and for themselves upon divorce.


03:45 – 04:15   The Psychological Stages of Divorce


Participants learn the five psychological stages of divorce and learn the significance of these stages when meeting with patients/clients in mediation sessions.


04:15 – 05:15   Role Play Exercise


Participants engage in an exercise that enables them to process the information they have learned so far in the program by meeting in small groups of three or four people.


05:15 – 05:30   Q&A


05:30 - Dismissal – Reading homework assignment (minimum of 30 minutes)


Participants are required to read several articles on divorce mediation and general mediation issues and techniques before returning for Day 2 of the program.


Agenda Day 2


08:30 - 09:00:  Review of Day 1 and Overview of Day 2


Participants process their learning experience from Day 1 as a group exercise and preview the day ahead.


09:00 - 09:15:  Three principals that guide successful mediators in helping clients reach agreement on the issues that need to be resolved in divorce.


The concepts of “fair and equitable”, “enforceable agreements” and “best interests of children” are considered in the context of mediation sessions.


09:15 – 10:30   Issues pertaining to children in divorce – What are they? How are they resolved? Understanding and creating a parenting plan.


Issues involving children in divorce are discussed in detail. The meanings, significance and considerations relevant to child custody and parenting time are discussed.


10:30 - 10:45:  Morning Break


10:45 – 11:30   Children’s issues continued


Participants learn how to construct a parenting plan with a view toward the best interest of the children of the family, using the skill sets they bring to the process as trained mental health professionals. Focus on ethical guidance through the decision making process is discussed.


11:30 – 12:30   The Marital Estate – what is it? Marital Property vs. Non-marital property. Using experts to resolve disputes.


Participants begin to learn about the issues that divorcing spouses need to address in the process of divorcing, which are not related to their children. Participants gain a complete understanding of what they need to help families work through in order to reach accord so that tan amicabledivorce may be achieved.


This segment introduces and defines the patients’/clients’ “marital estate” and begins consideration of how to reach agreement in dividing it. The use of using non-adversarial experts to assist patients/clients in decision making in law and finance, as necessary, is introduced.   


 12:30 – 01:30  Lunch break


01:30 – 02:15   Property Division – keeping (excessive) emotion out of the discussion


Participants learn to focus their patients/clients on what is in the best interest of each and both as they continue critical thinking and reaching amicable agreement on dividing property in the process of divorce. Consideration for how much emotion is helpful before turning harmful is considered. Techniques for minimizing, avoiding and breaking impasse are taught. Focus on ethical guidance through the decision making process


02:15 – 03:00   Insurance and retirement issues in divorce – helping clients feel safe


Participants learn how to assist patients/clients in the use of working collaboratively using listening skills and critical thinking techniques with respect to issues that give patients/clients the highest level of insecurity about the divorce process.


03:00 - 03:15   Afternoon Break


03:15 - 04:00   Debt, tax and miscellaneous issues in divorce


Participants learn about these issues in order to assist their patients/clients in completely and fairly addressing them in a manner in which both can agree is fair and equitable.


04:00 – 05:15   Role Play Exercise


Participants role-play their first divorce mediation case, in which one-third of the participants conduct a divorce mediation session.


05:15 – 05:30   Q&A


05:30 - Dismissal to work independently on individual homework assignment (homework – 2 hour minimum)


Participants must perform a homework assignment using all of the information learned in Day 2. This is a complex exercise that requires review of all of the material learned on Day 2 and assimilation of what was learned in a document that meets best practice guidelines for divorce mediation case management.           


Agenda Day 3


08:30 - 09:30:   Brief Review of Day 2, Overview of Day 3 and group discussion about the Day 2 Role Play and the related homework assignment.


Participants process their learning experience from Day 2 in-class and out-of-class work as a group exercise and preview the day ahead.


09:30 – 10:30   Writing divorce mediation agreements – the Memorandum of Understanding – its construction and purpose


Participants are instructed on how to prepare a well written agreement for at the conclusion of a divorce mediation case. Each component of the agreement is introduced and reviewed.


10:30-10:45:    Morning Break


10:45 – 11:30   Distinguishing the Memorandum of Understanding from other forms of mediation agreements.


Participants learn about other forms of divorce agreements in order to become well versed in the broader spectrum of what other divorce professionals.


11:30 – 12:00   Group exercise – listening skills and relevant fact finding


Participants engage in an interactive, lively class exercise that involves review and consideration of a case that poses a significant challenge to their listening skills, critical thinking skills, legal reporting obligations and cultural sensitivity. It also tests their knowledge of concepts already introduced in the program.


12:00 – 01:00   Lunch break


01:00 – 03:30   Small group project – Case Role Play


Participants role play their second divorce mediation case, in which a second third of the participants conduct a divorce mediation session, which is more complex than the first.


03:30 – 05:30   Individual writing assignment – Memorandum of Understanding


Participants put the results obtained in their small group project into a written Memorandum of Understanding. The writing of the Memorandum is an individual exercise and participants spend a varying number of hours (between two and four hours) in creating this document.


Agenda Day 4


08:30 - 09:15:  Review of Day 3, Overview of Day 4, Group discussion about the Day 3 Role Play Exercise and the Individual Writing Assignment.


Participants process their learning experience from Day 3 as a group exercise and preview the day ahead.


09:15 - 09:30:  Prominent traits of highly effective mediators


The personality traits and skill sets common to most effective mediators are reviewed and discussed.


09:30 – 10:00:  The psychology of the mediation process – deadlocks, disagreement and emotion


Participants are taught how to use their existing skills as mental health professionals to assist patients/clients in resolving deadlocks and disagreements through conciliation, empathy and cooperation. The appropriate response to highly emotional circumstances is taught.         


10:00 – 10:30:  Legal liability and conflicts of interest for divorce mediators


Participants learn how best practice guards against legal liability and how to avoid conflicts of interest and thereby professional malfeasance. Participants’ professional liability insurers commonly include the provision divorce mediation as a covered service for social workers. Participants are instructed on the significance of adding this to their existing professional liability insurance policy or adding it to their existing policy if necessary or taking out another policy for coverage in the event that the first two options are not available.


10:30 - 10:45:  Morning Break


10:45 – 11:30:  Final Role Play Exercise


Participants role play their final divorce mediation case, in which the final third of participants conduct a divorce mediation session. This session is designed to test the creativity and critical thinking skills of participants as well as their ability to assimilate all information learned in the program in an unusual case.


11:30 – 12:30:  Ethics – lecture and illustrative skit


Ethical practice dilemmas are presented, discussed and highlighted in a skit presented by class participants who have volunteered or been selected by the Head Instructor.


12:30 – 01:30:  Lunch break


01:30 – 01:45:  Using Experts in Divorce Mediation Cases


Participants learn when and how to introduce legal, financial, mental health and other professionals to divorce mediation clients when such expertise is needed.


01:45 – 03:15   Guest Speaker – Divorce Financial Expert – Lecture and Q&A


Participants hear directly from a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst about how they may neutrally assist divorcing spouses in carefully selecting options for division of their assets in order to make the most informed, confident and amicable decisions possible.


03:15 - 03:30   Afternoon Break


03:30 - 05:00   Guest Speaker – Divorce Legal Expert – Lecture and Q&A


Participants hear directly from a Legal Expert, typically a local divorce attorney, about how they may neutrally assist divorcing spouses in processing divorce cases that have been resolved in mediation.


05:00 – 05:15   Adding mediation to your existing clinical practice


Participants are taught to address confidentiality and ethical concerns when adding divorce mediation sessions to their clinical practices or to the agency/educational/governmental/etc… setting in which they work. Recommendations on preparing for the acceptance of cases are provided: forms, space considerations, intake and follow-up procedures with clients.


05:15 – 5:30     Final Q&A, Evaluations and Dismissal