Divorce Mediation McMahon Group Interview

Video Transcription

00:05 “The McMahon Group: Welcome back to The McMahon Group everyone. Well, you know, breaking up is sometimes very hard to do, and if you or someone you know is going through a divorce, there are some options out there that I want to let you know about, and one of them is mediation. So, joining me this morning is Dr. Oliver Ross. He is the founder of Out-Of-Court Solutions and he is going to fill us in and hopefully give us some advice and some direction for our loved ones who may be going through this right now. Good morning!

00:33 Oliver Ross: Good morning to you.

00:34 The McMahon Group: Thank you. Okay, divorce mediation, what is this?

Oliver Ross Phoenix Mediator Interview

00:38 Oliver Ross: Well, divorce mediation is an alternate way, a different way of resolving disputes that are centered around divorce. What a mediator does, what I do as a mediator, at least the way my view of it is, is to help people communicate and negotiate effectively. Offer them different options and alternatives for resolving whatever issues there are, and provide them with legal, financial, tax and other information. But, all of that is directed towards one central goal.

01:07 The McMahon Group: Okay.

01:08 The McMahon Group: And that is to make sure that when each of them make decisions, they’re fully informed ones. You see different…

01:13 The McMahon Group: Yeah.

01:14 Oliver Ross: What’s different from using two adversarial lawyers is, my job isn’t to make any decisions for the couple, the husband or the wife. I’m not a judge saying, who wins, who loses, who’s right, who’s wrong. I’m not an attorney saying, “You should do this, you shouldn’t do that”. I’m there to give them the information they need, the legal, the financial, the tax information to help them communicate and negotiate effectively because emotions get in the way…

01:43 The McMahon Group: Yes.

01:45 Oliver Ross: And to provide them with different options and alternatives such that when they make decisions, they’re fully informed ones.

01:52 The McMahon Group: Oh, and every time, when you hear of a couple that is getting divorced, I just think of just, okay, they’re hitting their heads, and the anger and the heartbreak and then the financial. And to me, I think it’s just, “Oh, my gosh! The amount of money that is going to be spent.” And it just… There is… It seems it’s like never a win-win situation.

02:16 Oliver Ross: Well, I mean, it’s pretty axiomatic, and people come in to me, we offer a half hour consultation, a free consultation.

02:23 The McMahon Group: Okay.

02:23 Oliver Ross: And they come in… Like I had one yesterday. And everybody kind of knows. Like the husband said, “Well, I don’t wanna give a third of what we have to the attorneys.”

02:33 The McMahon Group: Ooh!

02:34 Oliver Ross: Mediation is likely to cost a small fraction…

02:38 The McMahon Group: Compared to the attorneys.

02:39 Oliver Ross: Of what using two separate lawyers will cost.

02:42 The McMahon Group: Okay. But now, you were just telling me that if you’re working with a divorce mediator, that you also refer other attorneys to them if they need it.

02:50 Oliver Ross: I have two other mediators that work with me here in Arizona and they’re with Out-Of-Court Solutions, and we all give our clients a list of what we call mediation-friendly attorneys. It’s on our expert list. We give them accountants, we give them appraisers; anybody that might be expert in areas that we don’t have the expertise. But, in the case of lawyers, the lawyers on our list don’t charge the retainers, the initial upfront money that has to be paid. Typically, the lowest retainer you’re gonna find nowadays is about $3600 to $5000. So, couples will spend $7000 to $10,000, just for starters…

03:34 The McMahon Group: Oh, wow!

03:35 Oliver Ross: Using separate lawyers.

03:36 The McMahon Group: Wow.

03:37 Oliver Ross: With these lawyers, when we refer clients to them, and we encourage, is part of our introductory rules and procedures. We talk about the use of independent attorneys and we get each of their permission to allow the other, if they choose. It’s not a requirement, but it is definitely an option for them to consult on an hourly basis, without the large retainers, with one of the mediation-friendly attorneys on our list. So…

04:03 The McMahon Group: If they… Yeah.

04:03 Oliver Ross: I want my clients to have that additional support.

04:08 The McMahon Group: Right.

04:08 Oliver Ross: Because they’re going through a grief process.

04:11 The McMahon Group: Sure. Right. And now that brings up the situational approach to mediation.

04:15 Oliver Ross: Yes.

04:15 The McMahon Group: Explain what that is.

04:17 Oliver Ross: Well, the situational approach to mediation means that the mediator has to be adept at tailoring the mediation to the people involved because we’re all different, and to the nature of the dispute. Now, in divorce, grief — a grief process from anger, sadness, frustration and over time into the acceptance stage of the grief process — that is similar to what we go through emotionally when we lose somebody through death, by death. We are very aware that people are going through that process.

05:00 The McMahon Group: Got it.

05:00 Oliver Ross: So, we’ll help them progress through that process. We see a lot of angry people.

05:09 The McMahon Group: Yeah.

05:10 Oliver Ross: I’ll point out in the beginning that anger is common and normal in these situations. So, we normal out, we acknowledge that it’s happening. Most lawyers, quite frankly — and I before I went through my own divorce and went back to school and studied for my PhD in Psychology — I didn’t know my feelings.

05:29 The McMahon Group: Yeah.

05:29 Oliver Ross: So, if don’t know my own feelings, how am I going to recognize them and help other people deal with them. All the mediators with me, my two other mediators, have backgrounds of both law and psychology. We all have advanced…

05:44 The McMahon Group: Which is very beneficial.

05:44 Oliver Ross: Degrees in psychology.

05:46 The McMahon Group: And that’s so good to know. Like you said, because of the whole grief process and all the feelings that everybody is going through. And I don’t think people know how to address those feelings.

05:56 Oliver Ross: Well, when you’re inside a picture frame, when you’re inside of the frame, you can’t see the picture. So when I’m going through my own emotions… That’s why we have therapists, that’s why we have counselors. Well, mediation with Out-Of-Court Solutions is the situational approach that… By the way, I had a book published about it in 2003. But we are able to recognize the emotional aspects. Not that it’s therapy. We’re not doing therapeutic counseling, but just the recognition that people are going through those emotions, and acknowledging just like, “Lisa, I can see how angry you are.” That’s therapeutic.

06:40 Oliver Ross: Well, and let’s bring the kids into the picture here.

06:42 The McMahon Group: Ah, the kids.

06:43 Oliver Ross: Divorce mediation, it seems to me, that… How does this benefit the kids? And the different ages, like the young ones versus into the teens?

06:53 Speaker 1: Well, first of all let me say that the major blessing for me in doing the work that I do, and I’ve been doing this for 16 years now, is I not only get to save the parents from that other process, the adversarial process using lawyers, but I get to save the kids.

07:09 Oliver Ross: Yeah.

07:11 The McMahon Group: Now, in terms of helping the children, children will be going through their own grief process, similar to what we adults go through.

The McMahon Group Interview

07:19 Oliver Ross: Right. Nobody wants to see Mommy and Daddy get divorced.

07:21 The McMahon Group: Well, and also, they’ll be going through the anger and the sadness. With… What I help parents recognize is that they can influence how deeply they will go through that process. You can’t control it, I learned a long time ago, it’s the illusion of control.

07:41 Oliver Ross: Right.

07:41 The McMahon Group: But they can certainly influence the depth and the duration of that grief process.

07:47 Oliver Ross: And soften the situation a little bit better.

07:48 The McMahon Group: Right.

07:48 Oliver Ross: And, plus, the mediation does not take as long as a regular court process.

07:54 Oliver Ross: Oh, mediation is typically over within a matter of two or three months.

07:58 The McMahon Group: Got it.

07:59 Oliver Ross: Court process could be 12, 15, 24 months.

08:02 The McMahon Group: Oh, my gosh. And you know what? We’re running out of time here, Dr. Ross. But this is such important information. I know all your information was on the screen there for everybody at home, and if you have questions, please get in touch with Dr. Oliver Ross. And we will be right back after this. Thank you.”

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