may 2016
 

THIS MONTH AT RSI

RSI Foreclosure Mediation Funding Extended 


RSI received official word from the Office of the Illinois Attorney General that it will continue to fund our mortgage foreclosure programs in Illinois through May 2018. We are extremely grateful to the Attorney General, and very excited about the opportunity to continue providing these services. At the same time, we are solemnly cognizant of the fact that this means people are still reeling from the fallout of the global financial crisis and the burst of the housing bubble.
 
While on the whole nationwide the housing market is improving, recovery is inconsistent among regions. Here in Illinois, 1 in every 803 Illinois housing units received a foreclosure filing in March, representing the sixth-highest foreclosure filing rate in the nation.
 
To date, more than 2,200 homeowners have availed themselves of Illinois’ Attorney General-funded foreclosure mediation programs, 1,500 of those in the programs RSI administers (we monitor and evaluate all six AG-funded programs, and administer half of those). RSI’s programs have helped 240 people save their homes, an outcome that not only benefits homeowners, but also reduces bank liabilities and contributes to community stability. Even as the foreclosure crisis abates, these programs will continue to offer a fair, respectful way for homeowners and banks to discuss and agree upon alternatives to foreclosure.
 

Susan Yates Presents at ABA Conference


At last month’s American Bar Association Section of Dispute Resolution Conference in New York City, RSI Executive Director Susan Yates and Washington, DC-based mediator Stephen Kotev delivered a presentation entitled, “Is Your ADR Safe? Reducing the Risk of Violence Before, During and After Sessions.”  The presentation shared findings from the Association for Conflict Resolution’s Taskforce on Safety Recommended Guidance on which Ms. Yates and Mr. Kotev served, and also allowed experienced mediators to share their experience and ask questions about mediating intense disputes safely.
 

RESOURCE CENTRAL

Mediating Protection Orders

In this new feature, Resource Center Director Eric Slepak will share inquiries received from court ADR personnel from across the country. It is our hope that sharing these exchanges might answer some questions you’ve had, or inspire you to take a fresh look at some aspects of your court’s programs. Names and other identifying pieces of information are removed, and content is edited for brevity and clarity. If you have an inquiry of your own, please reach out to Eric at info@AboutRSI.org.
 
--
Dear Eric,

My jurisdiction has a prohibition on mediating the terms of civil protection orders. These are cases in which parties who have an ongoing and/or extensive relationship (such as partners, family members, neighbors, classmates or landlords and tenants) require a court-enforced order to protect one or more of the parties from abusive or adverse behavior by another party. I have been asked by some judges whether we ought to reconsider the prohibition. They believe that there are some limited cases in which mediation is both appropriate and useful in agreeing on the conditions of such protection orders; for example, developing a plan for one partner to safely retrieve their items from their partner’s apartment. Can you provide me any guidance on how I might go about changing our rules to allow for such mediation to take place?
 
Sincerely,
Pondering Protection Order Mediation
 
--
Dear Pondering,

When it comes to allegations of domestic violence (DV) or other abusive behavior, and the role of mediation, there are many approaches that have merit. In the past, we’ve talked about screening for intimate partner violence, and how courts generally approach the subject of DV in the mediation context. Your inquiry is a bit different, however, and based on what my colleague Jennifer Shack and I were able to find, a slightly more obscure subset of this topic.
 
With regard to court rules or administrative orders, we were surprised that we could not find a single one that speaks directly to the authorization of mediation in the context of protective orders where DV has been alleged. Almost as incredible was the lack of statutory authority, save for Guam’s Conciliation Law, 19 Guam Code Ann. §7111 (2007). If you are attempting to modify your rules to carve out an exception for mediation in protective order cases, Guam’s law is an excellent place to start. We highly recommend, however, that you have clear and detailed guidelines about the qualifications and training for both the individuals responsible for screening the cases, and the mediators involved in these cases.
 
As far as programs go, Jefferson County, Colorado’s Protection Order Conditions Conferences provide a great model for mediating orders of protection. Their program is the product of ongoing input and collaboration among a number of stakeholders, including the local judges and advocates for women who are victims of domestic violence. The program uses a gender-balanced co-mediation model (whenever possible) in which the parties are placed in separate rooms and the mediators, who are trained on domestic violence issues, shuttle between them. During these sessions, parties can work out the terms and conditions of either a temporary or extended protection order, including issues such as parenting time and retrieval of property. Last year alone, they mediated more than 150 such cases, 68% of which resulted in an agreement.
 
While we don’t have evaluative data to make more definitive claims about their program, we were able to gain a tremendous amount of insight from speaking with Mark Loye, Executive Director of Jefferson County Mediation Services. We highly recommend reaching out to Mr. Loye if you are interested in more information. We also know that such programs exist in Nevada, and have been previously tried in Hawaii.
 
I hope this is a helpful start as you explore new opportunities to provide parties in these difficult situations a better way to find resolution. Of course, I know my suggestions are far from exhaustive, and I will leave it to the collective wisdom of our Court ADR Connection readers to fill you and me in on what we missed!
 
Best Regards,
Eric
 

RESEARCH

Child-Informed Mediation Reduces Relitigation

 
Child-informed mediation has been shown to result in agreements that are more likely to promote child well-being than those reached in the traditional mediation process. The latest research on child-informed mediation indicates that it reduces relitigation as well.
 
In child-informed mediation, a child consultant attends mediation and (metaphorically, not physically) brings “the child into the room.” Child-informed mediation includes “child-focused mediation,” in which the child consultant helps the parents focus on the child’s needs, but does not involve the child in the process, and “child-inclusive mediation,” in which the child consultant interviews the child before the mediation in order to bring the child’s views into the mediation. Research showed that not only did both of these have a significantly more positive impact on parental conflict and relitigation than “mediation as usual” (i.e. mediation that was not child-informed), but that child-inclusive mediation outperformed child-focused mediation on both these factors.
 
The latest research findings are discussed in “Child-Informed Mediation Study Follow-Up: Comparing the Frequency of Relitigation Following Different Types of Family Mediation” (Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, November 2015). For this study, Brittany Rudd, et al, examined the agreements and case summaries for 47 cases that had been randomly assigned to either mediation as usual, child-focused mediation or child-involved mediation. They found that both child-informed processes resulted in fewer motions, orders and hearings in the two years following case resolution than did mediation as usual. A comparison between child-focused mediation and child-involved mediation showed that parents who participated in the latter were less likely to return to court.
 
The researchers hypothesized that there was a link between the terms of agreement and the frequency of relitigation after mediation. Their analysis found that link: cases in which agreements addressed issues such as parental communication and interparental conflict were less likely to return to court than those with agreements that did not address such issues.
 
The researchers noted that the study was limited by small sample size and not having access to the full case records. Further, the study only included families in which at least one child was age five or older.

RSI Board Of Directors

Terry Moritz, President
Prof. James J. Alfini
Marc Becker
Hon. Morton Denlow (ret.)
Hon. Allen S. Goldberg (ret.)
Mitchell Marinello
Raven Moore
Hon. Stephen Pacey (ret.)
Brian Roche
Hon. James Sullivan (ret.)

RSI Staff

Susan M. Yates, Exec. Director
Bridget Crawford
Matthew Flores
Mariah Heinz
Hanna Kaufman
Olga Kordonskaya
Kevin Malone
Jennifer Shack
Eric Slepak, Editor

PROGRAM UPDATES


RSI Welcomes Matthew Flores To The Team!...


We are excited to announce Matthew Flores has joined RSI as the 17th Judicial Circuit Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation Program Coordinator, based in Rockford, IL. Welcome Matthew!
 

…And Says Goodbye to Kristen Sanchez
 

We recently said goodbye to our former 17th Circuit Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation Program Coordinator, Kristen Sanchez. We wish Kristen all the best in her new position at the federal court!

Kane County Child Protection Program Receives Media Coverage
 

In conjunction with last month’s National Child Abuse Prevention Month, Kane County Connects published a story about our forthcoming Child Protection Mediation Program.

FROM OUR BLOG


Model Mediation Surveys Are Now Available

Director of Research Jen Shack's recounts details from the development of our Model Mediation Surveys.

Child Protection Perspectives: Initiating the Conversation

Resource Center Director Eric Slepak shares his perspective on how child protection mediation programs are powerful tools for bringing children into safe homes where they can avoid further abuse.



 

Success Ain’t Pretty, But There’s Strength in Sharing


As we have all probably learned the hard way, developing a strong court ADR program is anything but a clean, straightforward process. That’s why we’ve tried to collect the best “secrets” we’ve heard over the years, and share them with you in our Court ADR Instruction Manual’s Other Secrets to Success. If you have any great tips that you don’t see here, please do share them with us!

 

HOW CAN WE HELP?


How Can We Help You? RSI offers a clearinghouse of information on CourtADR.org and also responds to requests for information. Do you have a question about court ADR?
 
 RSI Site
 CourtADR.org
 LinkedIn
 Facebook

RSI thanks JAMS and the JAMS Foundation for their support of this publication.

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