Divorce Mediation Can Be Amicable
PelotonPosts is a monthly interview with a member of PelotonLabs, a co-working space in Portland’s West End. PelotonLabs’ mission is to connect and encourage people who step out of traditional modes of employment. This month, Peloton’s founder Liz Trice caught up with Seth Levy and Patricia Pyle of Portland Mediation Group.
How long have you been working together? What are your backgrounds?
Seth: We’ve worked together for six years, and we’ve done mediations for three years. I’ve had a law practice for 14 years. A mutual colleague introduced us and we’ve evolved a close working relationship and friendship.
Patricia: I studied languages and business in Canada and, as well as mediation, I have a skill with case analysis. I can see the whole picture, the patterns, strengths and challenges, and use that to help our clients figure out a plan.
How do divorce mediations work?
Patricia: The couple comes in together and meets with us. And in a series of six to ten, 90-minute sessions, we assist them through all the decision-making they need to do: property, custody, retirement accounts, co-parenting, who is living where, and how to transfer everything fairly and smoothly. We have guidelines for the process. This is an opportunity to come in and talk with each other – without yelling, intimidation or derogatory comments. We offer a free 30-minute consultation to explain the process and see if mediation is a fit.
Seth: The process is so valuable, because how you do your divorce affects how you relate to that person for the rest of your life. If you leave it up to the courts – if you’re adversaries in a battle – the decisions are made by lawyers and the courts, and those decisions often leave one or both parties with resentments.
Patricia: And the cost averages $1,500 or less per person – a fraction of what litigated divorces cost. Traditionally litigated divorces can easily reach $10,000 or more per person. We’re not therapists and we don’t delve into why the couple is divorcing. We’re just helping them navigate their way through the process.
Seth: A lot of what we’re figuring out is how this works for the children. It’s clear that children don’t do well with bitter divorces. If it’s amicable, there’s a healing process that can happen. We do a lot of work with situations affected by substance abuse, but will not mediate if there is domestic violence or other abuse in the relationship. When there’s a power imbalance the element of fear intervenes and prevents people from advocating for their interests.
What would you recommend to someone who’s thinking about getting divorced?
Seth: Know that there is a way to do a divorce that is not harmful and that allows healing to occur. You can say, “I want to divorce, but I want it to be amicable. There are things we have to figure out, and we can get these people to help us. “
Patricia: There is a way to divorce so that when you’re done you can still talk to each other.
Seth: Mediation is a transitional process. You’re moving to a different place in life, a different type of relationship. How do we make that change the best for both people?
Patricia: “What’s in the best interest of our children, and what do we both need?”
Seth: With very few exceptions, it’s always a positive experience for all parties.
Patricia: We can’t make it not be painful, but people rise to their best selves in the process.
Portland Mediation Group
Seth Levy also does criminal defense, and represents veterans, juvenile defense, estate planning and probate. Also, he is running for District Attorney of Cumberland County in 2018. Visit http://sethlevylaw.com.
Patricia Pyle also works with individual attorneys and business owners to assist them in putting in place organizational processes that work for them. Visit https://portlandmediationgroup.com or call (207) 808-0939.
PelotonLabs now offers a Community Membership that includes access to Legal, Marketing, Networking, Accounting, and Market Research coaches for $30/month. To schedule a tour visit http://pelotonlabsportland.com.