Author Archives: Susan Ingram

Integrated Team Mediation: What Is It
and How Can It Benefit You?

NYC Family and Divorce Mediation, Susan Ingram, explains integrated team mediation.For family and divorce mediation to be done as effectively as possible, I believe an integrated team approach must be utilized. I use the term “Integrated Team Mediation” to describe this approach. So what do I mean by this?

First let me explain some basics– at the core of the team is the couple who has come to me to facilitate their discussions, and of course myself, their mediator/attorney. Sometimes a couple’s circumstances are quite straightforward, and they already have all the information they need to make their decisions. For instance, I’ve had couples who don’t have children, have a short-term marriage and have few resources to divvy up. In those instances, typically there is no need to bring in outside professionals.

Can Mediators Be Impartial and Address an Imbalance of Power?

Divorce and Family Mediator, Susan Ingram, discusses maintaing impartiality while keeping parties balanced and informed during the mediation process.In my last blog article, I questioned whether a mediator could be either neutral or impartial. As I discussed, for me personally, the term “impartial” is more relevant – and something I continually strive for when I am mediating with my clients.

How does this actually play-out in a mediation? Sometimes with difficulty and a great deal of challenge. Let’s face it – even with the best of intentions, we’re all just human. I will frequently check-in with myself to question whether I am maintaining an unbiased position toward each of my clients. Then, if I sense there’s an issue, I’ll try my best to adjust my approach.

Can a Mediator Really be Neutral or Impartial?

NYC Family and Divorce Mediator, Susan Ingram, explains the difference between a neutral and impartial mediator.Is it really possible for a mediator to be neutral or impartial with clients?

This is an issue I’ve been grappling with for quite a few years now, ever since I started to mediate. While it hasn’t gotten easier to answer this question, my understanding of this issue has become much deeper and more multi-faceted – and I’m sure will continue to evolve over time. As I share my thoughts on this subject with honesty and an attitude of intellectual curiosity, I invite you, my readers, to keep an open mind and then come to your own conclusions.

As with any discussion of this nature, definitions are extremely important. So I first want to define what I believe is meant by the words “neutral” and “impartial” in the context of mediation.

What’s Perception Got to Do with It?

“It’s not what you look at that matters. It’s what you see.”
~Henry David Thoreau

What's Perception Got to Do With It? By Susan Ingram

What’s perception got to do with it? Everything! Thoreau couldn’t have said it any better. To illustrate this concept on a very personal level, I would like to share with you an experience I had nearly eight years ago. To this day, I continue to reap profound benefits from it.

In the summer of 2006, as I was in the process of switching my career from that of ‘regular lawyer’ to that of coach and mediator, I decided to do something very different that would hopefully assist me in my new endeavors. I enrolled in a 5-day course entitled “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain.” This course was based upon a book of the same title written by Betty Edwards, a professor of art with a doctorate in art, education and the psychology of perception.

Special Needs Children and Divorce Mediation

Special Needs Children and Divorce Mediation By Susan IngramOne of the important questions I ask on my mediation intake form is whether or not any of the couple’s children has special needs. If they answer yes, then I know I will need to obtain much more information about the specifics of their child’s situation in order to help the parents address important decisions about their child’s current and future care.

The term ‘special needs’ covers a broad range of conditions, some more serious and long-term than others. It includes physical disabilities, chronic disabilities and mental or cognitive disabilities.

The term ‘special needs’ covers a broad range of conditions, some more serious and long-term than others. It includes physical disabilities, chronic disabilities and mental or cognitive disabilities.

One-Up, One-Down: Power Imbalances in Mediation

One-Up, One-Down: Power Imbalances in Mediation By Susan IngramI recently participated in a discussion with a number of colleagues who are therapists working with couples and their families. We had all just witnessed a divorce mediation session where a couple was discussing the parenting arrangements for their two children, both under the age of ten.

The husband and wife were both foreign-born, although they had lived in New York City for quite a few years and had raised their children here as well. They had decided, because of money issues and a desire to be closer to family, that the mother and children would move back to Italy. The father needed to continue working at his job in New York City, and it was not clear if, or when, he might have the opportunity to move his home to Italy as well.

Purr-fect Wisdom: 6 Life Lessons from Master Percy

NYC Mediator Susan Ingram of www.susan-ingram.com uses her cat to share some life lessons that can benefit all.I recently added a beautiful Siberian cat to my household. This is not the first time I’ve decided to share my life with a feline. I’ve owned two other cats before this, spanning a total of 20 years. It’s been over a year since my last cat died. A few months ago I decided to take the leap once more and introduce a new fellow, this time dubbed Percy, into my life.

Creating Daily “Listening Time” with Your Child

NYC divorce and family mediator Susan Ingram of susan-ingram.com discusses the importance of creating time every day to actively listen to your child.An article that recently appeared in HuffPost Parents entitled “The Most Important 10 Minutes of a Child’s Day” triggered my own thoughts about supporting our children’s emotional well-being. The suggestions of the author, Kenneth Barish, Ph.D., a clinical associate professor of psychology at Weill Medical College, Cornell University, were simple, yet very meaningful.

Mediation: Balancing Self-Determination and the Law

NYC Mediator Susan Ingram of susan-ingram.com explains the divorce mediation process.In my last blog article, I talked about the concept of fairness, and how it is easier for a couple to reach a “fair” agreement in a mediation setting – because THEY are the ones making the decisions. If they were litigating their divorce in court, a judge or their attorneys would be making decisions for them.

What’s “Fairness” Got to Do with It?

NYC Mediator Susan Ingram explains how the mediation setting lends itself to a more "fair" divorce agreement than possible in the traditional litigation setting.In the divorce arena, a fascinating balance exists between the dictates of the law and a couple’s ability to determine what is “fair” for them, given their specific circumstances. If a couple chooses mediation over a litigated divorce, they have the opportunity to craft an agreement that more accurately reflects their needs.

How is this so? Even though the mediation process still remains under the “umbrella” of the law, in mediation a couple has much more flexibility in framing an agreement that meets both parties’ needs and is “fair” for both of them.

Under New York State divorce law, the non-custodial parent is required to pay child support to the custodial parent. This makes sense as long as one parent (defined as the custodial parent) has the children more than 50% of the time. Unfortunately, the law has not been updated to reflect the equal parenting approach that has become more popular in recent years. So when the law is applied to a truly 50/50 child-sharing arrangement, the results can end up being quite “unfair.”

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