In Memory of Betty Ife

In whatever role you knew Betty, she stood apart as someone very special with a genuine appreciation for people. Serving on the FMC Board of Directors for 10 years in her various roles as President, Treasurer, Editor of Resolve, FMC Certification Chair and numerous other committees, Betty was a tremendous advocate for mediation.

Betty was a transformational leader, had a gift for innovative thinking, was extremely passionate about family mediation and was committed to improving the field. She worked as a Family Justice Counsellor in the Burnaby, Surrey and the North Shore Family Justice Centres for 20 years. Her first profession was as a teacher and she obtained a Bachelor and Master’s Degree in Education. She was passionate about assisting families with domestic violence issues and participated on innovative committees in Delta (DOVE) and the North Shore (ICAT). She was also trained as Crown Counsel Victim/Witness Services Volunteer Caseworker.

Betty was a mentor for new family mediators with the Mediate BC Family Mediation Practicum Program and she was on the faculty with the Justice Institute of British Columbia. She co-authored a parent education program called “Separated With Children-Dealing with the Finances” with the Justice Education Society of British Columbia. Betty’s energy, integrity, commitment and countless contributions were remarkable. Betty was one of a kind and will be sorely missed by many as an advocate, colleague and friend.

She leaves behind her sister Debbie and Debbie’s husband Fred Adams and their extended family.

Gathering

Those of you who would like to join the gathering of Betty’s friends, family and colleagues; we will meet:

Thursday, March 30th 2:00 – 4:00PM
Royal Canadian Legion
123 West 15th Street, North Vancouver

In lieu of flowers, donations will be gratefully accepted at the North Shore Crisis Services Society by calling 604-987-0366, where the Betty Ife Fund will be set up to help those in need.

It is with great regret that we advise of Betty Ife’s unexpected passing. We extend our condolences to Betty’s family, friends and colleagues. We deeply appreciate Linda Bonnell in preparing these remarks on the work of her dear friend.

Eat, Drink & Remarry: How to Get a Divorce Worth Celebrating

Now this had my attention! A divorce party hosted jointly by the people getting divorced?! The former spouse has definitely not attended the divorce parties I have heard about.

The couple had been married for 24 years and had fallen out of love. The party was not a celebration of the divorce but for the way they did it. Their shared goal was to keep the family as much intact as possible and to remember that their kids are most important, not their stuff.

These parents understood that how they moved forward in their separation was critical to everyone’s well-being. It is important for all couples that come to an end to be aware that the decisions made today have immediate and future impacts, intended or otherwise. Separating parents benefit from thinking about what kind of legacy they want to leave for their children and future grandchildren.

Will the focus be on both parents making decisions together on how to reorganize their family or more about who is right and winning?

One of these approaches is more likely to lead to shared extended family celebrations. The other may lead your kids to eating turkey dinner four nights in a row or worse: picking sides. There are circumstances when collaboration and shared decision-making are not possible, but in most cases they are. You don’t even need to particularly like the other person, but you do need to respect each other as parents.

Family mediation can help to bring this kind of intention or lens to all the decisions that you and your former spouse will need to make about your children and your finances. It also provides an opportunity to work together on making all of these decisions. Mediators do not provide advice on what each spouse should do, but rather they help explore options and provide information and resources so that the parties themselves can make informed decisions. The families control the outcome and the mediator manages the process.

When both parents avoid an adversarial process their stress is reduced and their children are the beneficiaries. A family that functions well and has simply been re-organized is the kind of legacy most parents want – the party is just an added bonus!

 

Amy RobertsonGuest blogger Amy Robertson is a Mediate BC Family and Civil Roster mediator in Victoria, BC. Amy keeps an active Family and Workplace mediation practice and she is a Facilitator of the Parenting After Separation Finances Course – for more information visit victoriamediation.com.

5 Ways to Wrap Up Conflict for the Holidays

What happens when we suddenly have all this compressed family time? For many families, it’s conflict. The gentle teasing goes a little too far. Old hurts, compounded by time and other issues that were never really resolved, are brought screaming to the surface. It does not have to be this way.

Last December a parent gave their family members the gift of mediation. An adult child had so much hurt built up with another family member they could no longer communicate or be in a room together.  The gift was an opportunity for them to work through their issues privately with a neutral person to see if they could find resolutions that would work for them.

I was asked if I would mediate between the family members in an effort to repair the relationship for a Christmas celebration where everyone would once again feel comfortable attending – or even consider attending! Everyone agreed to the terms of our work and progress was made. New boundaries were established and a plan with a timeline was agreed to in an effort to get things back on track.

As a mediator, here are my five tips to help families share information, understand different perspectives and hopefully get back on track:

1. Determine 3 things you each want the other person to hear

Take turns without interrupting and really listen to each other. Anticipate hearing something you do not agree with and be prepared to focus on what they are saying anyway without reacting.

2. Keep an open mind and be curious

Try to understand what is important to the other person and how they feel. Instead of making assumptions, ask questions. Try to avoid questions that include “why” as they can be perceived as judgmental or challenging. A simple option is to say “tell me more about this.”

3. Talk about the impact

By focusing on the impact of the conflict or circumstance on you or someone you love, you will be less likely to trigger defensiveness in the other person.

4. Acknowledge that there is more than one solution

Be flexible and think of at least two ideas or suggestions to move things forward.

5. Focus on the positive

If you cannot agree on what has happened in the past, shift your focus to what you can both agree on to go forward.

 

If both people follow what they agree to (which is more likely when they create the terms together), it can do a lot to repair a relationship and rebuild trust over time.

All relationships have their challenges and it is common to find conflict in an important long-term relationship. How you choose to handle the conflict going forward is what really counts.

If you are unable to manage the conflict on your own, mediators can be an important part of moving things forward in a positive and constructive way. The dialogue may be intense, so some people like the idea of having someone impartial to both prepare and guide them through these tough conversations. Mediators help families resolve some or all of their issues in over 90% of cases[1].

November 19 to 26th was proclaimed Conflict Resolution Week in BC[2]. Following that lead, let’s seize the opportunity to improve our relationships and cherish the holiday season with our families. After all, do we really need more stuff?

Amy Robertson, Mediator www.victoriamediation.com

Guest blogger Amy Robertson is a Mediate BC Family and Civil Roster mediator in Victoria, BC. Amy keeps an active Family and Workplace mediation practice and she is a Facilitator of the Parenting After Separation Finances Course – for more information visit victoriamediation.com.

 

 

 

[1] Mediate BC 2015 Business of Mediation Survey

[2] http://www.bclaws.ca/civix/document/id/proclamations/proclamations/ConflictResolWk2016

Sliding Scale Family Mediation Project Revised Scale

These changes come from recommendations made in a recent evaluation of Mediate BC’s Family Mediation Services and Sliding Scale Family Mediation Project by the Law Foundation, which generously funds the SSP.

Sliding Scale Family Mediation Project

The Sliding Scale Family Mediation Project helps people undergoing separation and divorce access the services of a private family mediator at a cost that is customized to their financial situation. Mediate BC is committed to helping families resolve their issues through a full spectrum of out-of-court options.

Similar to how the movement toward unbundled legal services recognize the capacity of many families to afford some legal services but not comprehensive service[1], the SSP is designed to help provide family mediation services for those able and willing to pay for service, but not able to afford the full market-rate.

 

 

 

How has the sliding scale changed?

  • The new sliding scale only looks at joint income and no longer takes fixed assets into consideration. The Family Mediation Coordinator has discretion to conduct individual income assessment should she deem joint income assessment inappropriate on a case by case basis.
  • The new sliding scale includes a greater degree of gradation. Having more rungs on the ladder decreases the size of the cost-steps and will make for better fits with each family’s unique financial situation.
  • Other important factors that were considered when updating the scale include the median family income in BC, the average hourly market rate for family mediators, the average total cost of a completed family mediation, etc.

[Update April 2017: Due to funding changes, Mediate BC is no longer able to provide this service. For those seeking sliding scale or low cost mediation services, Mediate BC staff will be pleased to assist you at info@mediatebc.com or 604-684-1300/1-877-656-1300.]

[1] Learnings From the Demographic Data on Litigants Without Counsel – J.P Boyd

 

 

 

Separation: Do it Better than ‘The Simpsons’ with Family Mediation

Spoiler alert! Homer falls asleep during couples’ counselling with Marge and dreams that they separate.  The episode chronicles some of Homer’s highs and lows that accompany the life-altering event of a separation.

Have to Order New Cheques!

Homer does not adjust so well initially and thinks that Marge will take him back until he calls the home number and discovers that she has referred to her maiden name on the family voicemail. At this point Homer realizes that there will be a lot to do and he will even have to order new cheques! This is reflective of the reality that there is a lot to do when couples separate and they may shift into having a more business-like relationship as they start the process of separating financially.

Mediators can help provide you with the information you need to become financially separate, as well as when you may need other professionals to provide legal advice or fully understand the tax implications of a possible agreement. Before starting the mediation process you could start an inventory of all separately and jointly-owned assets (e.g., cash, investments, vehicles, real estate) and a list all your outstanding debt (e.g., credit cards, loans, mortgages). During the mediation process you will be asked to provide documentation to support decisions around valuing your assets and debt, keep in mind that the date of valuation will be unique for each couple and something you agree on in mediation. You may also want to start thinking about your monthly and annual expense budget (e.g., food, medical care, housing, clothes).

Skype You at Christmas!

Later on in the episode both Marge and Homer are dating new partners. Lisa, (Marge and Homer’s daughter), had to cut a conversation with her dad short, saying she would “skype [him] at Christmas” because she had to “go pony shopping” with Marge’s new partner.  While comical for the show, this is not typical of parenting time over Christmas that couples living in the same city typically land on in mediation.

Mediators recognize that every family is unique and will support both spouses to establish a parenting schedule that is in the best interest of the children and also works for both parents. I ask people to bring an open mind, a willingness to discuss the issues and to listen to the perspective of the other person with the intention of negotiating a resolution. It can also be helpful for parents to think 20 years into their children’s future and about the kind of memories and childhood experiences they want them to have.  Your answers will impact the kind of co-parenting relationship you will want to establish with the other parent and will also impact the parenting arrangements you make in mediation.

Family Mediation

Family mediation can help you and your ex-spouse navigate the process of separation and all of the decisions that you will need to agree on:

  • where your children will live or how will parents share parenting time,
  • how decisions will be made for the children,
  • who will pay child support and what are special and extraordinary expenses,
  • what do you own as a couple and what do you owe together and how this could be shared; and
  • if both parties agree that spousal support is an issue then what amount of spousal support will be paid and for how long.

Mediation can offer you an unbundled approach so that families can get support on just a few issues if that is what they need, or cover a comprehensive list of topics. It is important to underscore that mediators do not provide advice on what each spouse should do but rather help explore options, provide information and resources so that the parties themselves can make informed decisions. The families control the outcome, not the mediator.

For those of you going through a separation either now or in the past you may have shared the same sentiment that it felt like a bad dream at times, but were not as lucky as Homer to wake up to the status quo. Aside from 30 minutes of entertainment this episode highlights that separation is common and takes work, but doesn’t have to be all bad – especially if you seek out support during this transition.

Amy Robertson, Family Mediator

Guest blogger Amy Robertson is a Family Roster mediator and management consultant in Victoria, BC and has also been the Chairperson of a Federal Administrative Tribunal. Amy keeps an active mediation and consultation practice at victoriamediation.com.

Photo: Marge and Homer Simpson, The Simpsons Matt Groening Fox TV.