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#36 – Mediation and the importance of compromise

two wooden figures next to broken heart held together with bandaid

#36 – Mediation and the importance of compromise

SUMMARY: Susan Chesnutt interviews a long time colleague Dawn Kirk who has been practicing family law for 30 years and mediation for 15 years. As a mediator Dawn’s primary focus is on the children, understanding the family dynamic to find an outcome in the child’s best interest.


[00:02:00] Dawn explains what it takes to become a mediator and the certification process. You do not need to be an attorney to earn your certification.
[00:03:15] Susan and Dawn discuss the benefits of having legal experience and the importance of life experience to provide quality mediation.
[00:05:00] How does writing a script pertain to mediation?
[00:06:00] Dawn and Susan explain the process of finding a mediator and what those steps look like.
[00:07:15] How long does mediation take? And guess what, it’s not an event, it’s a product.
[00:09:15] When in the mediation process, Susan and Dawn talk about the benefits of having the two parties separate versus together. Emotions and faces can be triggers for parties involved so what is the best strategy.
[00:11:15] Susan asks Dawn about mediation prep and the importance of the client coming with a wishlist of their priorities. The moral of the story is to come prepared.
[00:15:15] What are some of the barriers when it comes to mediation? What is appropriate and what is not appropriate.
[00:18:00] Dawn talks about the importance of coming to the table being open to the different possibilities available to both parties. She is a big advocate of encouraging the clients to think about other ideas.
[00:20:15] What does a restaurant menu have to do with mediation? Dawn uses the food analogy a lot today to help us understand the process. Get ready to hear her discuss what a temporary agreement can look like.
[00:24:00] Dawn discusses getting to a partial agreement between the two parties.
[00:25:15] Susan asks Dawn to discuss the cost of mediation vs the cost of litigating. They discuss the ins and outs to help make an informed decision.
[00:29:00] Dawn and Susan cover what are the trends she is encountering right now. Times change and so does the approach to splitting assets, especially in this current market.
[00:31:00] He said, she said conversations about divorce terms, do they mean anything?
[00:34:15] Before they wrap up, Susan asks Dawn to talk about figuring out alimony and child support, they are 2 very separate things in a divorce agreement.
[00:40:30] Parenting plans. So much information to digest before they finish the podcast. This topic has a lot of details to unpack to create a parenting plan. This section will keep you on the edge of your seat for the next 10 minutes.
[00:52:45] Family traditions and coming to terms with honoring each parent’s perspective on special days and holidays.

Susan Chesnutt: “It’s an opportunity to have a neutral person come in and help you discuss the issues and figure out ways to solve them.”

Dawn Kirk: “And I, I don’t think that people realize that your friends, your relatives, your lawn guy, I mean, everybody’s affected one way or the other by this.”

Dawn Kirk: “So my role really is to help them write their own script.”

Dawn Kirk: “Forget about money for a minute, what’s best for the child.”


Susan Chesnutt

Dawn Kirk

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