Co-Parenting, Family Law & Conflict Resolution

Christine Gilman from Dispute Resolution Center of West Michigan spoke on Co-Parenting, Family Law & Conflict Resolution. We started with the example of two children arguing over the only orange. How would you solve it? Split it in half? Take turns? No one gets it? Mediation helps both sides find a win/win solution.

During mediation, both sides tell their stories, have a chance to be heard, listen to each perspective, exchange information, get to the root of the problem, and create a unique resolution that fits. It’s private, fast, and cost effective.

We also discussed the value and principles of restorative communication, which stems from understanding conflict. Conflict will happen–it’s an integral part of life and parenting. It’s also an opportunity to learn and build positive relationships. An important skill to develop is to separate the “deed” from the “doer.” We also focused on asking questions that don’t start with “why.” Asking open ended questions that don’t start with why helps elicit emotion and allows space to explore the issues in a non-threatening way. Some examples of questions are: “What happened? What were you thinking at the time? Who has been affected by what you’ve done? and What do you think needs to happen to make things right?”

We practiced this skill through the example of dirty dishes left in the sink. How would you react after you left a clean house and came back to a sink full of dirty dishes? What questions would you ask?

How can I get mediation? Call (616) 774-0121or email You can also visit their website,



Funding from the Office of Great Start within the Michigan Department of Education supports the implementation of Great Start.