Mediation – Benefits

What are the benefits of mediation?

A neutral mediator is in a very good position to develop trust and foster conditions where a durable solution is not only possible, but likely.

Mediation offers to:

Avoid conflict and so reduce consequent upset and distress;

Save unnecessary and expensive legal fees;

Prevent unnecessary delays (as Mediation is much quicker than the court process);

Provide a structure in which future differences (if they occur) can be resolved more readily;

Distribute control of the decision-making process (hence the outcome) to the two parties resulting in no decisions being imposed (unlike court);

Generate fewer stressful feelings than adversarial and potentially confronting court proceedings;

The cost of mediation per hour is less than the cost of most legal fees per hour;

Minimise costs, as costs are generally split equally between the two parties, so the fees per hour are both less than for legal fees and total fees are divided by the two in Mediation, and not multiplied by two as in the legal process. (The parties may come to an arrangement about whether they pay 50:50, or 70:30 etc, though the total fees for Mediation are almost certainly still less than protracted legal costs.)

Develop a workable solution to the conflict that both parties are less likely to break as they have reached agreements, and have committed to those agreements, themselves.

Be able to reach agreement that survives the test of time.

Research conducted by The Joseph Rowntree Foundation with Newcastle University is very positive about the usefulness of Mediation, which is much more positive for the children of separating parents. Very few people who go through the Family Court system say it was a positive experience for anyone involved in the conflict.

Martin Walsh first trained and registered as a Clinical Psychologist and is a trained (MBA) and experienced Senior Manager and a trained (LEADR) and experienced Mediator: he is very skilled and experienced and skilled in helping others to manage emotions and their options in life.

In what circumstances can I use a Mediator ?

Mediation can be used in a wide range of situations including as an alternative to family court, neighbourhood differences, workplace disputes, commercial disputes between two companies, parent/adolescent conflicts, problems at school such as bullying, and so on.

Employment Issues / Work Place Disputes

Martin Walsh’s experience as a Senior Manager and Human Resource Specialist bring with him detailed understanding of human factors in the work environment.

Every employment situation represents investment in productive relationships. Our experience in employment mediation allows us to help parties identify underlying issues and bring renewed understanding and skilled communication to benefit both the employer and the staff member (or the two work colleagues, etc).

We are seeing an increased interest in mediation as the preferred process for conflict resolution in the workplace, partly because the cost of legal action over employment issues can be burdensome for companies and partly because it offers the best alternative to restoring working and, where possible, comfortable and productive relationships.

Family Issues – separating parents

Martin Walsh had conducted many Family Assessments for the Family Court in his role as a Clinical Psychologist. Many practitioners agree that in almost every case, children of separating parents just want their parents to get along – no matter how the separation or divorce occurred. We offer mediation to help you and your family reduce conflict and stress that affects your children, yet is common when a separation becomes tense and argumentative and accusatory in a legal setting such as the Family Court.

Mediation is about directly negotiating your own decisions with the help of a third party. It is an alternative to solicitors negotiating for you or having decisions made for you by the courts. Entering mediation is always voluntary.

Family Mediation helps those involved in separating (or separated) couples to communicate effectively with one another and reach their own decisions about the issues arising from separation or divorce – children, property and goods, finance and emotional upset.

Co-parenting issues (parenting issues between two separated or divorced parents) that arise from children occupying two separate homes can be difficult. Caring and loving parents who end their relationships with one another but who both love their children have their children’s happiness and stability as their highest priority. Mediation helps sustain the loving approach of both parents to their children by providing a structure that is much less intrusive into the lives of parents and children than legal action and helps sustain both parents through Mediation fees that are considerably less than extremely expensive legal fees for the Family Court.

Mediation between ex-partners:

Takes sensitive issues out of the adversarial court process which can escalate the conflict and incur high fees for both parties in the process;

Avoids,

Overt conflict or conflict through legal representatives;

Escalation of conflict through allegations and counter allegations that escalate quickly in an adversarial / legal environment;

Children being assessed by a court appointed assessor (hence Mediation helps avoid the children being dragged into the adult’s conflict);

Is collaborative and results in both parents having more money left from the end of the relationship if they have chosen Mediation to negotiate an effective resolution to family and parent child issues than if they had chosen to engage legal representatives. This option builds a better financial platform to support the children from the relationship with activities such as holidays, sporting commitments, music tuition fees etc, and to support each parent’s life after the end of their relationship.

There are often times when the Mediator wishes to speak with the children to consult directly with them about the options brought to mediation. In those circumstances, the children would be asked for their comments and views on each option, without having to take sides in any difference of opinion between their parents. It is a minimum standard of such consultations that both parents agree to not question any of the children as to how each child responded to the propositions or options.

Family Issues – Parent / Adolescent Conflict

Parents and teens, do you disagree over curfews, friends, music, school, responsibilities or expectations? Are you a teen who wishes your parents understood your choices; are you a parent who wants respect from your teenager? Mediation can help! Mediators are a neutral third party who helps both parents and teens understand each other’s point of view and work towards a mutually agreeable solution. Mediation is confidential.

When a child becomes a teenager, the relationship between the child and the parent goes through many changes. As teens seek independence from their parents, their relationship often falls apart. Those teens that have bad relationships with their parents often end up getting into trouble or hanging out with the wrong crowd.

To avoid ruining their own lives, teens need to make an effort to fix a bad relationship with their parents. A teen with a good parent relationship may be able to stay out of trouble, and a good parent-teen relationship is one of the keys to a happier, more successful life.

To accomplish this, teens need to be informed as to what they can do to improve those relationships and to be informed as to agencies they can turn to for help.

Section Descriptions

The “Bad” Parent-Teen Relationship- Defines what a bad parent-teen relationship is, and what causes a bad parent-teen relationship.

The Effects-Explains the effects of parent-teen relationships on both parents and teens.

Fixing It Up- Tells you how to fix a bad parent-teen relationship
Parent-teen mediation- Explains parent-teen mediation and The Mediation Center of the Pacific.

When children reach adolescence, they may experience changes in their relationship with their parents. Teenagers fight with their parents about everything, from how they dress, to with whom they hang out. Teens become separated from their parents, and in the process, become more independent.

A bad parent-teen relationship is a relationship where there is little or no communication between a parent and their teen.

Lack of communication is one of the key factors in a bad parent-teen relationship. When communication breaks down, parents and teens no longer tell each other how they feel.

This can result in arguments over the smallest things. These seemingly silly arguments can lead to larger arguments, which often end with the teenager running upstairs to their room and slamming the door. It leaves both the parent and teen fuming over the silliest things.

The whole ordeal could have been prevented if the parent and teen had communicated their thoughts and feelings to each other.

What causes so many parent-teen relationships to turn “bad?”

There are several different answers to this question. The first one is that during adolescence, teens are seeking independence. This causes a change in the existing parent-child relationship because teens are trying to break away from their parents. The second reason is that parents know that how a teen turns out is a reflection as to how good they are as people and parents (“Teenage Criminals” 1)

This causes parents to try to control as many of the aspects as they can, but as the child enters adolescence, they realise that they can’t grow into adults without taking control of their lives. In response, teens simply rebel, stop asking for guidance, and fight for control to prove that they are their own person. This results in a very difficult parent-teen relationship.

The parent-teen relationship has a major impact on adolescence, and anyone living with them. Everyone is affected by their relationship with their teen or parent. It doesn’t matter if it is a good or bad relationship.

Some effects of a bad parent-teen relationship for teens include alcohol abuse, tobacco and use of other drugs. These same teenagers can also have delinquent behaviours such as stealing and graffiti. They hang out with the “bad crowd,” because their parental relationship is not strong enough to guide them (“Living…” 5) Parents also suffer from a poor parent-teen relationship. Some parents who are involved in uncomfortable or ineffective parent-teen relationships, often feel a lack of control, that they are taken for granted or that all their efforts begin being trashed by arrogant teenagers who know nothing of the world and the parent/s are left feeling isolated and hurt. The teen is often left with the same feelings of isolation and hurt.

For teens, these types of feelings can lead to bad decisions. In most bad parent-teen relationships, teens rebel against their parents. This can also cause both the parent and teen to feel alone because they used to get along, but now the teen is refusing to interact. The teen feels like they have nobody to turn to for guidance.

There are also many effects of a good parent-teen relationship. Teens benefit from a good relationship with their parents because it makes the road to adulthood smoother. They are able to become adults, while still maintaining a strong relationship with their parents, and a good relationship today generally means a good relationship tomorrow. Teens who have this kind of relationship with their parents are probably more likely to be able to avoid the pitfalls that other teens make i.e. drugs, driving fast or drink driving, not completing study and so on.

In any parent-teen relationship, the parent and teen are growing away from each other. The teen is learning how to be an adult, while the parent is learning to let go of their child. This can cause any parent or teen to become afraid of what will happen next in their relationship. Usually, parents and teens are able to live through this difficult time in their relationship together and form strong bonds when the parents and their offspring are adults (technically at age 18: more of that later).

Other times it isn’t as easy, but every teen will be affected by their relationship with their parents

When children reach adolescence, their relationship with their parents often becomes difficult, and it affects both parents and teens. It is obvious that something should be done to fix these “bad” relationships to make the road to adulthood easier for both the teen and their parents.

The first step in creating a better parent-teen relationship is wanting a better relationship. After both the parent and teen realize they want a better relationship, the teen needs to realize a few things about their parents. The first thing is that parents love their children, so they’re going to be worried about their child. The second thing is that parents were once teenagers, and they do know what it is like to be a teen. Once teens can accomplish this, both the parent and the teen need to ask themselves this question, “ If I were in my parent’s, or teen’s, shoes, would I be hard to deal with?”(Tobin 16) When they answer this question, they are able to realize what the other person’s perspective on the relationship is. It allows them to move forward and fix their relationship.

Now that the parents and teen are able to see eye-to-eye, it will be easier to communicate their feelings to each other. If they are able to communicate, there is a less of a chance of fighting. A parent-teen relationship with fewer fights is already much improved. Another thing to remember is that a good parent-teen relationship means an easier road to adulthood for everybody involved.
Even a good parent-teen relationship has a few rough spots. When this does happen, all a teen has to do is to remember that, “Your parents are your parents, and getting along with them is easier than fighting with them.”

When a parent-teen relationship becomes difficult, mediation is one of many options that can help repair a relationship.
The first question is “What is mediation?” The answer is that a mediator, a neutral third party, helps parties in a conflict to come together to talk and decide how to resolve their dispute. The mediator enables parties to reach an agreement with which they can both live. Mediation “enables parties to hear their differences, solve problems, and rebuild relationships.” (Wiltgen 3) The next question is “How does mediation work?” Both parties have the opportunity to express their point of view, while the mediators help the parties reach an agreement that is fair and acceptable to both parties. The mediator works with the parties in private sessions and in joint sessions to facilitate communication.

In Hawaii, The Mediation Center of the Pacific offers all types of mediation services including its new Parent-Child Mediation Program. In this new program, both adult and student mediators work together to mediate family problems between parents and teens. Through this program, “parents and children will learn new ways of communicating and negotiating peacefully with each other,” (Honolulu Advertiser Staff 3) MCP provides mediation services that are accessible and financially affordable to individuals on Oahu. There are other mediation centers available on the neighbor islands.

Disputes with Neighbours

We all have neighbours.

Sometimes neighbours disagree with us (or us with them) about boundary issues, fences, barking dogs, loud noise late at night and so on.

Neighbour disputes are sometimes adjudicated by the local council i.e. in the case of barking dogs or by the police in the case of loud music late at tonight, and in both cases neither party need see the other. This tends to keep the parties apart and have a poor view of one another.

Children

Noisy children

Noisy children in themselves are not a ‘nuisance’. If someone is disturbed by a neighbour’s children, for example, a shift worker who wants to sleep during the day, the only real solution is a conciliatory approach to the neighbour and if that fails to consult a mediator.

Damage done by children

If a neighbour’s child causes damage to a property, a conciliatory approach to settle the matter is probably the best first step. Legally, one party may be able to sue the child for damages if they are old enough to know what they were doing. In practice, this is unrealistic since few courts would look favourably on such an action, and a child is unlikely to have much money to pay any damages. However, the parents of the child may be liable for negligence and damages if they have failed to exercise the control that would be expected of a parent given the child’s age. Parents are often very protective of the children and their children’s behaviour so negotiations can become prickly: it is best to remember an old saying that ‘You Get More Bees With Honey That Vinegar’.

Using a Mediator to liaise between the two parties to achieve a sound and balanced result can smooth out upset communications and perceptions, and obtain a result that all are happy with (including the bees !).

Ball games and toys over the fence

If a child throws a ball or a frisbee etc into a neighbour’s property, it is suggested that the neighbour either hand it back or allow it to be collected.

However, as it is a trespass for the Frisbee etc to cross the neighbour’s boundary (even if it was unintentional), and is another trespass for someone to enter the property without permission, then there may be some conflict.

Seeking permission to enter the property to reclaim the frisbee or ball is usually the best approach. You may go with your child and introduce the request to the neighbour to smooth the way, and ensure the child is wearing their best manners. However, if the frisbee or ball going over the fence happens regularly or the ball (or other object) causes damage, the neighbour’s tolerance may start to run out, and the neighbour may be entitled to financial compensation if any damage has been caused.

If the ball does damage (or the child does when they go to retrieve the Frisbee, etc !) or the neighbour objects to them entering their yard so often, then using a Mediator can help establish a common agreement regarding the number of times a Frisbee etc goes over the fence and the number of times a child comes to collect it. Such approaches are superior to making a complaint as your first response, as it keeps the lines of communication open and keeps negotiations flexible enough to adapt to new circumstances.

There is always time next week to lodge a complaint.

Noise

Dealing with noisy neighbours

The first step is generally to talk with your neighbour making the noise and let them know about any special circumstances i.e. your health condition that is sensitive to noise, that you work shift work and need your sleep etc. Have a plan of what you want to say so you deliver the right information and don’t get side tracked. Some people rehearse their plan.

And remember, be polite.

When you tell them about your situation point out special circumstances such as a health condition, that you work shift work etc and ask them to reduce the noise, you may also point out that you have taken some steps your self such as by using ear plugs. This generally lets people know that you are flexible and you are not quick to complain just for the sake for taking control, or that you like to complain.

If the noise is not reduced and your neighbour is a tenant, it may be worth contacting your neighbour’s landlord. If the problem persists it is useful to keep a record/diary of the disturbances which can be used as evidence in any future action.

Local Councils have some powers to deal with noise nuisances or police and be contacted to see if they can take some action.

Again mediation is a sound way to negotiate such situations so that they do not escalate and people start to take entrenched positions on the matter.

 

Trees

Overhanging branches

If your tree hangs over an adjoining property, your neighbour can ask you to trim back the tree. If this is not done, your neighbour generally has the right to trim the tree back to the boundary line although any branches and/or fruit removed can belong to the tree’s owner and, if so, should be returned.

An overhanging tree may also be a danger and some parts of some trees are poisonous. If any damage or injury is caused, the tree owner may be liable to pay compensation if a person affected or injured brings a claim for damages.

Again, Mediation is a sensible, low cost and low conflict solution to charging off and making a complaint if your initial approach to the neighbour does not work. Making a complaint or taking legal action is often a point-of-no-return as it is seen as a confrontation or a challenge as to who has more power or who is right. Taking a slower and more flexible approach can get you what you want and avoid unnecessary conflict and cost. Go at the problem step by step.

Remember, patience is a virtue.

How to deal with a neighbour dispute

Approach the neighbour

There are a number of ways you can approach your neighbour depending on the circumstances. You can explain that you want their help with a difficulty, you can ask to talk about the issue (such as noise, trees, etc) and you can ask for their cooperation and their in put.

If you treat your neighbour as the enemy or the sole source of the problem you can reasonably expected to not get their best approach to you.

You can see them in person to raise the issue and talk later on the phone or vice versa.

If it seems that one or both parties will be unable to keep their temper during such a meeting, it may be advisable to write.

Sometimes a neighbour may be made to see that their behaviour is anti-social, or their dog really does bark that loudly and that often if a number of neighbours give the person feedback about the problem.

If an initial approach to the neighbour has failed, there may be local mediators who are able to help.

Contact the landlord

If the offending neighbour is a tenant and refuses to co-operate when approached directly, it may be appropriate to contact the landlord. You can find out who the owner is by obtain that information for the Lands Titles office. A small fee may apply.

Call the police

The police can be called if it is possible that a criminal offence is being committed. The most likely offences in the case of neighbour disputes are breach of the peace or assault.

Consult a solicitor/take court action

Letter

If all the low key and neighbourly approaches do not work then the next step may be a letter.

Some people go in ‘boots and all’ with a strongly worded letter either from themselves or from their solicitor (which will cost them money and start the ‘them-and-us’ stage of communication).

Instead, you may wish to draft a letter to the neighbour in plain words that simply and courteously addresses the issue. Outline what you think the problem is and what you see as one solution but then give them to make some suggestions as to the solution

If you just send a letter demanding certain action they are likely to not see you in a good light and mutter a few well chosen words under their breathe about you ! That does not get you what you want – and is not generally good for neighbourly relations for the future, in case they have a problem with you or your trees or your dog or your children and so on.

Being courteous is a good investment in future relations with your neighbours.

Letter from you may open up communications

Get your letter reviewed by a solicitor (there may be a service available in your city where the first 20 min of the consultation is free if you go the Law Society in your state, as occurs with the SA Law Society) but try to make the first letter not be legalistic and contain threats to take action.

 

Remember, at this stage you are still in Flexible Mode – you if you are listening you may discover your neighbour or the other party has some objections against you, or your children or your trees or their boundary with you, and so on ! And, in a few weeks or months time you may discover that you weren’t aware or you have unintentionally offended them in the past.

 

On the other hand, a letter from you advising that they have not responded to your previous letter (if you can be sure they got it – stranger things have happened !) a solicitor may be helpful in making a neighbour realise that you are serious about your complaint. It may be particularly effective in making tenants realise that the next stage might be eviction by their landlord. It may also be necessary when, for example, there is genuine disagreement as to who is responsible.

 

School Bullying