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EMI Newsletter

Dear Friends and Colleagues,
EMI was actively involved in planning the Second Annual APFM (Academy of Professional Family Mediators) conference in Denver earlier this month.emi-blog-102913  Marilyn and Steve presented a day long workshop on creative child support and spousal support options.

Bill Doherty of the University of Minnesota Family Social Science Program was the keynote speaker and Marilyn moderated the response to Bill’s keynote address.  Joan Kelly, a well-known researcher on children and divorce delivered a plenary speech.  Almost 200 family mediators from around the country attended.

Bill Doherty gave a lively and information-filled talk about Discernment Counseling, and its usefulness to family mediators in their work. Discernment Counseling helps couples on the brink of divorce decide in a non-directive manner whether or not it is possible to save their marriage.  He made a good case for how mediators and therapists can have similar goals for their clients and can stay out of the adversarial system. The idea is that we all want strong marriages as well as peaceful divorces and the two are not incompatible.  His speech signals a new alignment for the APFM in its efforts to collaborate more with behavioral science in helping heal families in the midst of divorce and separation.

Joan Kelly, a well known researcher on the effects of divorce on children and co-author of the book, Surviving the Breakup, talked quite pointedly about how there is currently a divide in the research regarding attachment theory.  Apparently, there are some researchers from Australia who now claim that younger children and, in particular, infants form stronger attachment bonds with their primary caregiver (most often the mother), and this research is being used as support that joint parenting is not beneficial for young children.  Of course, the research is being used around the country in custody disputes.  However, Joan’s own research as well as her review of the literature indicates that children can form very strong attachment bonds to both parents and in particular, a father who might be the less-time parent.  She expressed a worry that this recent research on attachment, while not yet completely accepted as valid, is being used as cannon fodder in court custody disputes.

EMI continues to champion the cause for more parenting plans and less custody disputes.   As part of Steve and Marilyn’s forthcoming book, “Divorce Wars No More” they are including a chapter on custody disputes gone amuck.  If our U.S. Attorney General can say that the Criminal Justice System is broken, EMI can certainly say that the Legal Divorce System is broken.  If you know of people who are willing to be interviewed about or submit an email describing their “horror story” in Family Court, please contact Steve or Marilyn at EMI.  In publishing any of these stories, we will take care to respect confidentiality, and use the stories as a back drop for our suggestions to change the present adversarial divorce system.

As always, we enjoy hearing from you. Feel free to email Marilyn and/or Steve any time with your questions and comments!


Solveig Erickson Mayer
Erickson Mediation Institute

    Erickson Mediation Institute
    3600 American Blvd West, Suite 105
    Minneapolis, MN 55431
    (952) 835-3688
    Monday-Friday 9:00-4:30
    Evenings By Appointment
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Erickson Mediation Institute MN
Erickson Mediation Institute
3600 American Blvd West
Suite 105
Minneapolis, MN 55431
(952) 835-3688

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