Introduction from my New Book: MARITAL SEPARATION AGREEMENTS A Guide for Non-Lawyer Mediators

February 7, 2012

I. INTRODUCTION

Marital separation agreements are unique among the spectrum of contracts between parties. Because the terms of these agreements concern parties dissolving their marriage, they have long been the object of intense scrutiny by legislators, the judiciary, and scholars. The issues raised by these agreements are often complex and difficult to address. This book will focus primarily upon separation agreements for divorcing parties in North Carolina, but it will also trace the definition and development of separation agreements in general, their historical roots, and the shifting public policy concerns about them over time. It will explore how both legislators and courts have attempted to inject themselves into these agreements in order to review, revise or prevent them from being enforceable. In the process, thorny issues will be surfaced and discussed, issues that demand standards, criteria and guidelines to inform and direct non-lawyer mediators in the practice of their craft. Finally, I will offer suggestions about how Alternative Dispute Resolution, as a profession, can develop and define itself more fully. I will conclude by offering specifics about how to remedy the current quagmires, and to chart a positive course for the future.

About Institute

Bob O'Connor, MJuris, MDiv, LLM in Dispute Resolution Bob brings a wealth of experience to his work as an alternative dispute resolution practitioner and trainer. He has worked with families in crisis for nearly three decades, and has mediated hundreds of disputes. Upon his graduation from Albion College in 1977, he began his legal training in England at Oxford University where he earned an M.Juris. He pursued but did not finish his J.D. at Notre Dame Law School, and later received his LL.M. in Alternative Dispute Resolution at The Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution, Pepperdine University School of Law. In between his legal studies, Bob earned a M.Div. degree with honors from Yale University, and then served as a minister, counselor, and teacher for 17 years. He has dedicated himself to the development of the field of alternative dispute resolution. He is the author of Marital Separation Agreements A Guide for Non-Lawyer Mediators (ICR Publishing 2011), Five Essential Steps to Negotiate Your Same-Sex Marriage (Forbes 6/14/12), and Same-Sex “Marriage” What’s in a Name? (ADR Times 7/9/12) Bob lectures in leadership development to the non-ADR community, and on practice-related issues in mediation. In addition to his private practice, Conflict Resolution Specialists, he served as a certified Superior Court mediator in Florida, North Carolina, Georgia, and California. He also founded the Institute for Conflict Resolution—an education and publishing entity—and Good Decisions.org—a nonprofit organization helping at risk middle school teens stay in school and out of gangs. Bob founded the Institute for Conflict Resolution to respond to the need in this region for a premiere education and training organization. www.instituteforconflicresolution.com

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