Mediators Works to Ease Stressors of Divorce (Oakland Press 9/19/11)

With divorce rates hovering around the 50 percent mark, mediation has become an important resource when it comes to an amicable split.

It was with that in mind that Macomb County denizens Matthew R. Babcock and Paul S. Roodbeen launched Modern Family Mediation in July 2010.

Today, the business is celebrating its first anniversary while striving to help area couples in the midst of legal separations.

“Based on our experience working with children and families, we have seen first hand the many negative effects of divorce and felt that we could make a positive difference,” Babcock said. “Knowing that divorces will continue to occur, we decided to directly address them by becoming more proactive in the process.”

Babcock, a graduate of Michigan State University, is a licensed master social worker with specialties in school social work and clinical social work.

Roodbeen graduated with a degree in psychology from Wayne State University and is a certified school psychologist and also a limited licensed psychologist.

The duo met while working for a local school district and decided to attend Macomb Community College to become conflict resolution specialists and mediators so they could join together in a business.

While the business was officially launched a year ago, the partners spent a lot of time planning prior to its launch.

“To help reduce overhead cost and keep our services affordable, we maintain home offices for administrative business,” Babcock said.

“During the mediation process, we also have office space in Troy as needed, however, the mediation process itself is flexible in nature and allows us to mediate where the parties agree.”

Since divorce proceedings can become contentious, many couples are asked to go into mediation to settle both financial and child custody issues.

Roodbeen and Babcock stress that they believe mediation is better than litigation in a lot of different instances.

In some situations, the partners said that mediation can replace the whole litigation process. In other, more complex cases, however, there are benefits to mediation and litigations working together. So what are the benefits of mediation?

Roodbeen and Babcock said the biggest one is that the parties agree to all the decisions about their situation and are in control of the outcome, rather than the court dictating what will take place.

In addition, mediation is often less expensive due to time efficiency.

While undergoing mediation, all conversations are confidential and cannot be used in a court of law by any party — including the mediator.

Babcock and Roodbeen stress that children are the most important aspect of their work and that while they believe mediation is always helpful, sometimes if there are personal safety issues the case might have to be settled in court.

Modern Family Mediation essentially works by appointment — which are usually after standard business hours because the clients are usually busy during the day.

“It’s important to note that even after the initial agreement is made, there may continue to be a need to future mediation,” Babcock said.

“For example, in situations where custody is shared, parenting time calendar planning is generally an ongoing issue which often needs review and may require assistance.”

FYI

Modern Family Mediation, visit www.modernfamilymediation.org or call 586-713-0883 or 586-801-0822.