Keynote & Workshop Description

Keynote- From Niche to Norm: Empowering Mediators to Transform Family Law

Speakers: Erin Levine

The rise of mediation as a mainstream alternative to contentious family law proceedings is rapidly accelerating. No longer is mediation a best kept secret reserved only for the wealthy or low conflict ex-partners.  But what will we do with the new found glory? How will we encourage an ongoing surge in adoption, stay relevant in a rapidly changing digital world and shape the future of profession and divorce experience for the better? Erin Levine’s keynote will explore these questions and provide insights on how mediators can seize this moment in a way that expands their impact

Erin Levine Headshot

Erin Levine

Closing Keynote Plenary

Changing the Culture of Mediation: From My Career to Your Career

Speaker: Bill Eddy, LCSW, Esq.

Bill Eddy will talk about the changes he’s seen in his 40 year career and some predictions for the future of family mediation.


Bill Eddy

The Art of Premarital and Marital Mediation

Speakers: Amanda Singer and Jennifer Segura

Marriage isn’t easy and while most Family Law Mediators work with clients going through divorce, there are times before couples get married and even during the marriage where mediation can provide beneficial conversations for the clients that keep them from getting divorced. This program will discuss mediation processes, strategies and examples for premarital and marital mediation. Premarital mediation can both educate the couple as well as create a fundamental basis for relationship success in handling their assets, finances, and other decisions during their marriage, while marital mediation can assist couples who may be heading towards divorce in turning their relationship around, and when coupled with therapy can be a gamechanger for their relationship. Adding premarital and/or marital mediation to your service offerings can allow you to expand the clients you work with and provide a rewarding experience for the mediator in setting clients up for a successful relationship built on a strong foundation.

Jennifer Segura

Amanda Singer Headshot

Amanda Singer

Elder Family Mediation – The Other “Family” Mediation — Keeping Families Together and Successfully Bringing Yourself In and Out of the Mediation Room

Speakers: Marci Barrett and Cynthia Saffir

To many, “family mediation” is a tool to resolve disputes about who gets what in a divorce, and how child custody and visitation, child support, and so on, will be handled. Anger, resentment, and sometimes vengefulness, run high and the soon-to-be-divorced spouses have no interest in maintaining a relationship except as required for shared parenting. Come join Marci and Cynthia and learn about their practice of the “other family mediation,” Elder Family Mediation where the point is for family members to move forward together for the good of an aging parent and the relationships of the family members. Marci and Cynthia will talk about how their personal experiences with aging parents helps them connect with mediating family members, how they have laughed and even cried with families (and yes that really is okay,) and where they insist the entire family be together, eye to eye, throughout the entire mediation. Marci and Cynthia will share stories about mediations that lead to a “kumbaya” moment where the mediation concluded with hugs, planned holiday gatherings, and margaritas. They will also talk about the potential for getting emotionally drained, and how to remain neutral and convincing, even when you feel like tearing your or someone’s hair out!

Marci Barrett

Cynthia Saffir

Strategies for Dividing Marital Real Estate

Speakers: Zachary Taylor, Laura McGee, and Carlie Burke

Join Zach, Laura, and Carlie  as they discuss the best practices of how to handle real estate during the divorce process. This workshop will discuss the pros and cons of trading other assets, such as retirement, for real estate, the impact of negotiating a delayed sale, marital homes purchased with separate property or inheritance, and so much more.

Carlie Burke

Laura McGee J.D.

Zachary Taylor

Understanding Special Education Law to A.I.D.E. Parents of Children with Disabilities Through Their Family Restructuring

Speakers: Crystal Williams and Josh Kershenbaum

When parents decide to restructure their families through separation or divorce, numerous education related decisions emerge. This is especially true when their children have disabilities. Children with special needs have special rights under state and federal special education laws. These laws are complex and provide critical supports and services for these children and their families. The intersection between special education laws and the divorce process is also complex and often unfamiliar both to parents and the professionals who support them through their family restructuring processes. In this session we will explore the ways in which having a disability-informed co-mediator or consultant in your Mediation or Collaborative Process can help us: (1) ask well-informed and useful questions about the children’s and parents’ needs; (2) help parents generate options and alternatives they might otherwise might not have considered; (3) facilitate the creation of more well-informed and enduring co-parenting/custody agreements; (4) refer parents to appropriate outside professional when needed; and (5) help parents prepare more effectively for their children’s transitions to adulthood and a more independent life.

Josh Kershenbaum

Crystal Williams

Home Will Never Be the Same Again for Adult Children of Gray Divorce

Speakers: Bruce Fredenburg, M.S., LMFT and Carol Hughes, Ph.D., LMFT

As the divorce rate for adults 50 and older soars, so too does the number of adult children experiencing parental divorce. These usually ignored major stakeholders in their parents’ divorce range in age from 18 – 50+. Their feeling and experiences of shock, and fear from sudden, dramatic change are real, valid and generally dismissed. Key mistakes can damage parent-child relationships severely. You will learn valuable information to help your clients and their adult children protect their post divorce-family going forward.

This workshop examines the how later-life parental divorce affects adult children, grandchildren, divorcing parents, extended family and community support system relationships and why it is a mistake to overlook Adult Children as major stakeholders in their parents divorce.

Bruce Fredenburg

Carol Hughes

Pets and Divorce: How Mediation Nips Conflict in the Bud Before it Bites Everyone on the Butt!

Speaker: Debra Vey Voda-Hamilton

The custody of a pet is becoming as important to the divorcing parties as the custody of the kids. The latter can often speak and give the court guidance, the former cannot. Legislatures in Alaska, Illinois, California and NY, now require Courts to apply ‘best interests or wellbeing’ standard to their deliberation on awarding the family pet. This program provides attendees with the reasons why mediation is best in these discussions.You will gain the language and tools to help convince divorce attorneys and parties how to choose mediation in order to get it right over being right, about the pet. Everyone will be glad to find a viable, best outcome process that removes this issue from the Court. Join me and learn how to nip this conflict in the bud, before it nips the parties and the judge in the butt.

Debra Vey Voda-Hamilton

Coffee Colleague Connect: Red Card/Green Card Exercise- a Powerful Way to Help Your Parties Identify Feelings and Needs

Speaker: Sara Campos

This year for the first time, FMI will provide FMI attendees with an opportunity to connect with colleagues by participating in an interactive exercise led by Sara Campos, Visiting Associate Professor and Clinical Director of Loyola Marymount University’s Loyola Center for Conflict Resolution.  Ms. Campos will guide participants through the Red Card/Green Card exercise based on the Nonviolent Communication work of Marshall Rosenberg.  The exercise is designed to assists parties in recognizing the feelings & needs of others, which is the first step towards empathy & connection.

The importance of social & emotional learning cannot be underestimated, as it affects everything from learning, decision making, and creativity to relationships, health, and performance. Interestingly, research has indicated that the mean number of emotions that people can identify in themselves, and others is three; commonly bad, sad, and glad. However, the list of core emotions can more accurately be listed as follows:

Anger, Anxious, Belonging, Blame, Curious, Disappointed, Disgust, Embarrassment, Empathy, Excited, Fear, Scared, Frustrated, Gratitude, Grief, Guilt, Happy, Humiliation, Hurt, Jealous, Joy, Judgment, Lonely, Love, Overwhelmed, Regret, Sad, Shame, Surprised, Vulnerability, and Worried.

This exercise is most effective when used in real-time during a mediation where parties’ emotions are running high and preventing good communication from occurring.  This tool enables the parties to share a difficult situation with each other during mediation and then allows the other party to listen, recognize, and identify the feelings as well as the unmet needs related to that experience, which leads to understanding and ultimately conflict resolution.

Sara Campos

Register for the Family Mediation Institute 2023