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Family Law Mediation: When time is not on your side

Faculty: Irwin Joseph and Donald T. Saposnek

* Approved for 16 hours of continuing education units for psychologists.
Pepperdine University is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Pepperdine maintains responsibility for the program and its content.

* Approved for 18 hours of Specialized Credits for Certified Family Law Specialists (California)
* Approved for 8 hours of Children's Counsel Credits per CRC 5.242(d) (California)

This highly interactive, interdisciplinary training (taught by a judge and a psychologist) is designed for judicial officers, private counsel, staff attorneys in courts, custody evaluators, psychologists, and others who wish to learn and improve their skills in mediating family law conflicts. Special emphasis is placed on resolving disputes when there is limited time and when there are limited resources available.  After exploring an overview of core models and principles of mediation and successful techniques, participants will learn a range of specific dispute resolution strategies available through mediating. Interspersed within discussion and role-plays are presentations of critical child development research, essential perspectives on the psychology and dynamics of divorce, the ways in which high levels of conflict and emotions in family law cases present special problems, and hidden opportunities for dispute resolution, as well as other practical information.  

What you will learn:

  • An overview of core mediation principles
  • Mediating as an attorney, therapist, judicial officer, facilitator, or judge pro tem 
  • Managing implicit power imbalances
  • The psychology and dynamics of high-conflict divorce
  • Specific mediation models appropriate to your jurisdiction
  • The anatomy of custody disputes
  • Gate-keeping, attachment, and alienation
  • Mediating personal property, custody, and visitation issues
  • Getting past the obstacles to stipulations
  • Mediating cases involving domestic violence
  • Special problems:  self-represented litigants, the present economy, and parents who hardly know one another
  • Canons, ethics, obligations, and red flags

The Honorable Irwin Joseph serves as a Superior Court Commissioner in Santa Clara County, after more than eleven years of bench experience that has included family, civil, and criminal assignments. During his six years in the Family Law Department, he has heard dissolution, custody, support, paternity, and domestic violence matters. He created the Judicial Mediation Program and the Early Neutral Evaluation Program for the Santa Cruz County Family Court. He has mediated thousands of conflicts since 1995. He was a faculty member of the Center for Judicial Education and Research (CJER) and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) and a member of the Elkins Family Law Task Force. He is a graduate of La Verne University School of Law and UCLA. He cocreated this class in 2009 for those who wish to improve mediation skills in this difficult and contentious area of the law.

Donald T. Saposnek is a practicing clinical-child psychologist and child custody mediator, and a family therapist for over 40 years, and a national and international trainer of mediation and child development. He also is author of the classic book, Mediating Child Custody Disputes: A Strategic Approach, and coauthor of Splitting America: How Politicians, Super PACS and the News Media Mirror High-Conflict Divorce. He has mediated over 5,000 custody disputes since 1977, managed the Santa Cruz County Family Court Services for 17 years, and has published extensively in the professional literature on mediation, child custody and child psychology. He has been teaching on the psychology faculty at the University of California, Santa Cruz since 1977, is editor of the Academy of Professional Family Mediator's The Professional Family Mediator, and serves on the editorial boards of numerous publishers and several international journals on conflict resolution.