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Spousal Support in Virginia

In Virginia, section 20-107.1 of the Virginia Code sets out the law with respect to spousal support.  The court, in deciding whether to award support and maintenance for a spouse, must consider the circumstances and factors which contributed to the dissolution of the marriage, specifically including adultery and any other ground for divorce as stated…
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Using the Right Words for Mediation and Negotiation

I recall one of my first mentors in the legal field advising me to work on changing my language to develop more powerful speech. As a young lawyer, woman, and minority over thirty years ago, in the very conservative insurance and financial services industry; I needed to learn how to make my speech work for…
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Mediation Preparation

Mediation Preparation: 4 Ways to Prepare Your Client to Speak up

Why is mediation preparation important? Mediation allows parties to have a discussion and possibly develop a solution to the dispute. The assistance of a skilled and experienced mediator helps to provide the parties with a facilitator who can assure a neutral environment. Mediators also help both sides explore options and use proven techniques to overcome…
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Reframing in Mediation and Negotiation

“Reframing” is taught in all the basic mediator training courses, and mediator mentors and instructors evaluate and coach novices and students in mediation on their development of this acquired skill.”Framing” refers to the manner in which a client describes the way he or she sees a conflict situation, goal, concern (interest) or issue. Clients often…
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Listening Skills in Negotiation and Mediation

As a collaborative lawyer and trainer, I am constantly working on communication and negotiation skills. One of the reasons I became a collaborative attorney is that the skill set needed is in many ways the same as in mediation, and therefore easily transferrable. The information below although not originating in the collaborative practice area, was…
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Mediator Selection – When Marriage and Business are Combined

In recent years I have noticed a developing trend in divorce mediation. Specifically, there are many more marriages where the parties are also business partners. I first noticed this in my mediations involving married parties from other cultures; notably Asian, Hispanic, and Caribbean. Later, I noticed the same trend in those born in the United…
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Personality and Negotiation

It is a recognized fact that everyone has a different approach to negotiation. The personalities of the parties involved significantly affect the process and outcome of the negotiations. We often hear of the generally accepted four basic personality styles, Driver, Expressive (or Extravert), Amiable and Analytic. While it is true that most people have elements…
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Dealing with Impasse (Mediator and Advocates – Each can help the process!)

In my experience, the most frequently asked question of alternative dispute resolution (“adr”) trainers and professionals is “how to handle and overcome impasse?”  It is my observation that successful mediators have two or three techniques they use with variation, that have helped them to overcome impasse in some instances.  Unfortunately, there is no technique that…
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Five Suggestions for Neutrals with Culturally Diverse ADR Participants (What Advocates Should Know)

I have always felt that the philosophy or motto of a mediator or arbitrator (simply referred to as a “neutral” in this article) should be the same as those in the medical profession – “First, do no harm”. The reason for this is obvious. A neutral needs to establish trust and credibility from the beginning.…
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