Mediate This!

1. Matthew and Sydney's Experiences with Conflict & Divorce

May 08, 2020 Matthew Brickman, Sydney Mitchell Season 1 Episode 1
Mediate This!
1. Matthew and Sydney's Experiences with Conflict & Divorce
Mediate This!
1. Matthew and Sydney's Experiences with Conflict & Divorce
May 08, 2020 Season 1 Episode 1
Matthew Brickman, Sydney Mitchell

Matthew Brickman and Sydney Mitchell tell their separate personal stories and experiences with divorce and conflict. Both unique and completely different but yet share the common subject of conflict as they offer insight on how you can best resolve the conflict in your life peacefully in order to move forward.

Their advice will help you deal with:
• Divorce (contested/uncontested with/without children, property, assets, debts)
• Parental Rights
• Paternity Cases and Rights
• Parenting
• Child Custody (Timesharing)
• Alimony and Spousal Support
• Child Support and Arrears
• Document Assistance
• Visitation
• Prenuptial & Postnuptial Agreements
• Post-judgement Modifications
• Family Disputes
• Business & Contract Disputes
• Employment: Employer/Employee Disputes
• Real Estate: Landlord - Tenant Disputes
• In-person Mediation
• Online Virtual Mediation

If you have a matter, disagreement, or dispute you need professional help with then visit - Email mbrickman@ichatmediation or Call (877) 822-1479

Show Notes Transcript

Matthew Brickman and Sydney Mitchell tell their separate personal stories and experiences with divorce and conflict. Both unique and completely different but yet share the common subject of conflict as they offer insight on how you can best resolve the conflict in your life peacefully in order to move forward.

Their advice will help you deal with:
• Divorce (contested/uncontested with/without children, property, assets, debts)
• Parental Rights
• Paternity Cases and Rights
• Parenting
• Child Custody (Timesharing)
• Alimony and Spousal Support
• Child Support and Arrears
• Document Assistance
• Visitation
• Prenuptial & Postnuptial Agreements
• Post-judgement Modifications
• Family Disputes
• Business & Contract Disputes
• Employment: Employer/Employee Disputes
• Real Estate: Landlord - Tenant Disputes
• In-person Mediation
• Online Virtual Mediation

If you have a matter, disagreement, or dispute you need professional help with then visit - Email mbrickman@ichatmediation or Call (877) 822-1479

Sydney Mitchell:   0:00
Hi. My name is Sydney Mitchell.

Matthew Brickman:   0:02
Hi. I'm Matthew Brickman, Florida Supreme Court mediator. Welcome to the Mediate This podcast where we discuss everything Mediation and Conflict Resolution.

Sydney Mitchell:   0:15
Hello, everyone. We are so excited for you to be here listening to the first episode in the first season of Mediate This. I'm Sydney, and I'm sitting here with Matthew. Matthew, how you doing? You excited?

Matthew Brickman:   0:26
So excited. So very excited to be here,

Sydney Mitchell:   0:29
Really looking forward to diving into this content. And if you haven't listened to Episode zero right before this, yes, there's an episode Zero, go and listen to it. Matthew kind of gives, it's like, two or three minutes long, he's going to give you a brief overview of what? What you can expect listening to this podcast what different kinds of topics we're gonna be delving into when it relates to mediation. And so, Matthew, before we go into your story, uh, your upbringing, your family, you've got a crazy story as to how you got into mediation before we do that briefly, tell us what it is exactly that you do.

Matthew Brickman:   1:02
Okay, so in a nutshell, just ah, give it a just in a nutshell. I am a certified conflict resolution specialist who, through mediation empowers people who are experiencing fear and chaos to find hope in peace. I help people and conflict achieve peaceful resolutions, saving them tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees. I mean, who doesn't want to save money? I guide mothers and fathers as they create enforceable agreements that will set a new tone where they can peacefully co parent, limit their conflicts, and create a safe and stable future for themselves and their children. So that's that's what I do in a nutshell.

Sydney Mitchell:   1:44
So I hear you saying mediation is it's just that you're a guide and you guide families and parents through the midst of some really challenging conflicts and I'm looking forward to hearing somewhere your stories, to make peaceful agreements and so that they can co parent well and so you're primarily a family mediator. So I know you know, a lot of the cases for you is you've got parents they're going through a divorce, they come to you and you help them make those agreements. As you mentioned in Episode zero, I am actually from a divorced family. My parents were divorced when I was very young and I lived my entire life, you know, until I was 18 on a parenting plan. And so I'm a result of basically what what you do. And I know that we have a totally different story. So tell us about your upbringing and your family.

Matthew Brickman:   2:31
So yeah, it is opposite because my parents are still married. It'll be 50 years next year. So 2021 it will be 50. Congratulations. Yeah. So my parents are still married. They met in high school. And so I come from a family of four, a three other siblings. So there's four kids and my parents. I was raised in a Christian home, and then I got married at 21 had my daughter at 21. Had my son at 23 then ended up in divorce a 28 and, um, yeah, it was, it was It was a very quick, easy nothing divorced. We sat on the floor Sunday night. Mother's Day night. I know Mother's Day is coming up. Yeah, I mean, so we have Mother's Day night. We filled out paperwork and we felt we filed the very next day and we were divorced three days for Father's Day. It was a very amicable divorce that turned into a 13.5 year war.

Sydney Mitchell:   3:29

Matthew Brickman:   3:29
We had many, many, many battles.

Sydney Mitchell:   3:31

Matthew Brickman:   3:32
But you know what? You know we're not gonna get until the gory details because I actually talk about that in a book that I wrote that you could go find on iTunes. It's called. You're Not The Only One. If you go to the iBook store Apples bookstore, and, um, you can either keyword Matthew Brickman, you can just key word You're Not The Only One and download the free book. What's really neat is that book was actually published before my war ended. So we're gonna talk about in some of these episodes, you know how it actually ended. But to get all the gory details I'm not gonna just bore you because there's chapters and chapters in that book of all the gory details of all the things I went through, Um, but yeah, I mean, I experienced, you know, just like I said in my opening, you know, like what do I do? Well, I empower people who are experiencing fear and chaos to find hope and peace and I'll tell ya Sidney, I experienced fear and chaos after my divorce. Um, and after being in and out of the court system and filing 43 motions for contempt enforcement,

Sydney Mitchell:   4:45
Whenever you say that I'm blown away every time.

Matthew Brickman:   4:47
Yeah, yeah. I mean, 43 motions of contempt enforcement over the course of 13.5 years like this is somebody I was divorced from, like,

Sydney Mitchell:   4:55

Matthew Brickman:   4:55
You are no longer the boss of me like you're not yet I gave her control over my emotions. Um, and you know, she would, you know, she knew my buttons better than I do, but and so, you know, I you know, it took me 13.5 years. You know, I finally found that hope and peace in forgiveness. Now, during that 13.5 years, I hoped for peace and hoped for justice in court, but I found that the family court is part of the judicial system, not the justice system. And I never found justice. And if if if anybody listening can gather just one of the best pieces of information ever you know, going through this is so many people like myself we're going through the process thinking, okay, I'm gonna go to court and this is how it's gonna work and I'm gonna get justice. I'm gonna get justice, and we're not in the justice system were in the judicial system and it can be very daunting, very scary And that's where I come in to help with that fear and chaos so that people can find hope and peace.

Sydney Mitchell:   6:06
So you want to see your You were really in the thick of it. And so this process for you lasted about 13 years . 

Matthew Brickman:   6:13
13.5 years.

Sydney Mitchell:   6:13
You hear about divorces being a lengthy process. But I feel like you just set a record of some kind.

Matthew Brickman:   6:19
Our divorce. Like I said, it was Mother's Day to Father's Day. That's like probably the shortest divorce, like, really, really simple and easy.

Sydney Mitchell:   6:26
But the process of making agreement

Matthew Brickman:   6:28
Well, we had an agreement. It was just violations, constant violations of the agreement and  I mediate for people constantly who get agreements or I've even been their mediator and then they keep coming back, going OK, we've got an agreement, they're not following it. We've got an agreement, they're not following it and so you know you then you then you just keep running to court, hoping that you're gonna get some sort of justice and you failed to realize you're in the judicial system, not the justice system. But mediation, you know, mediation to me, is a place of hope,

Sydney Mitchell:   7:04

Matthew Brickman:   7:05
And it's a place of peace because this is whether it's a divorce or whether the parties were never married and have a kid and now they've realized wow this relationship isn't working out, it is a very emotionally, psychologically, mentally an expensive process. Uh and yeah, it wears on you in ways that you never realized like I mean, it was hard for me to sleep for, like, 13.5 years like, because I would sleep and in my mind, I would formulate a legal argument that I would make when I went to my hearing eventually, months after I filed my paperwork. And I'll tell you, Sydney, not one argument that I ever made in my head ever came out of my mouth because it never played out in court the way that I played it out in my head and I didn't have a chance to say things or they would say something. I get derailed. And then after, you'd be like, 00 gosh. So, yeah, it is just and it'll take it takes it takes It takes a toll on your relationship with your with your kids with your friends, with your family, with your co workers. I mean, it's draining,

Sydney Mitchell:   8:16
Right. So I personally I've never I haven't been married will someday but have not yet very been married and obviously haven't been divorced either. So you talk about this process being really, really taxing, obviously. For, you know, at the time for you and your ex wife. What's it like when that that chaos and that conflict I would imagine. I mean, you know, for my family, I experienced several divorces in my immediate family. And their conflict, either directly or indirectly created... changed things in the household. How did that that chaos affect your family, your kids? And I'm sure maybe some other people, too.

Matthew Brickman:   8:55
Um, yeah, I I'll tell you two, two times that just really jump out even today, and you know, my kids are now 22 24,  but it seems like yesterday I remember being in Texas at my brother and sister in law's house for Christmas one year. And I remember being on the back porch and sitting with my sister in law and my grandmother and they were like, Matthew, you know, you've just got to forgive You gotta let this go. And I'm like, you don't understand. You don't get it. And for years, it put a strain on my relationship because I really felt like I was ganged up on and they didn't understand. And I was like, Well, then find check box. You're I'm done with you. Right? Um, the running joke in my family was if you can date Matthew longer than two weeks, you've got to be something special because, you know, I mean, I was a ball of energy and usually negative energy, and and so it affected my ability to date because, like, two weeks into it is like, yeah, goodbye, you know, both of us things that I was like, I'm not putting up with this and they're like, Yeah, I'm not deal with this crazy. It also could a huge strain with my kids. You know that You're the second thing I remember. I remember one night, and this was when my son was in high school. And it is just is just the stress of everything because, you know, whether or not people directly talk to their Children about their conflict or not, which they never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever should. I cannot emphasize that enough. You leave your kids out of adult conversations. The older they get, they hear it. I don't know if I don't know if I mean, like, I don't know if you were aware because you're, you know, you were the child that I'm talking about.

Sydney Mitchell:   10:37
right right

Matthew Brickman:   10:39
so I don't know if you ever like heard your

Sydney Mitchell:   10:42
your Yeah. I mean,

Matthew Brickman:   10:43
all arguments and stuff.

Sydney Mitchell:   10:45
Yeah. I mean, some conversations in passing, you know, I heard, you know, I would definitely have had my fair share of hearing arguments behind closed doors.

Matthew Brickman:   10:54
You hear? Stuff like like as they were talking to people on the phone About a certain situation?

Sydney Mitchell:   10:58
Yeah. Oh, definitely, definitely.

Matthew Brickman:   11:00
And so I remember, you know, I had court coming up and my son very bright, very, very bright was in high school, and he had overheard it and he was upset and I went into his room and we got into some argument about something. I don't remember what it was but I know that he had overheard and was upset about it. And we ended up knock down, drag out yelling match never got physical, but just yelling to the point where the neighbors called the police, the police showed up to see if everybody was OK and they actually took me and my son aside ask us what happened. And, yeah, our stories matched. Nobody got physical, but I mean, like, a light bulb went off going Oh, my gosh, It is affecting them now.

Sydney Mitchell:   11:49
Yeah, definitely.

Matthew Brickman:   11:50
You know, and eventually the courts ordered myself, the kids and my ex wife into therapy, like the courts and, you know, it's bad when the court does your so dysfunctional you're going because the courts are dysfunctional, but they actually ordered us. And so, yeah, it takes a huge toll on the family, Huge toll. And amazingly enough, I was able to go to work every day and be a mediator and help everybody else. But I could not get out of my own way. Yeah, and once I was able to forgive and once I was able to move on and we'll get into that later, another episodes or whatnot. But once I was able to come to that Oh, my gosh, my business was booming and I was able to be even more impactful and helpful because I was no longer in my own way. I wasn't bringing my baggage into the room trying to help people that had their own baggage. I was able to come in clear going, all right, I've worked through this, I've been here, done this and I've gotten to the goal line. I'm done like I scored. Game is over. But that wasn't enough for me. I was like, let me come back and now help others get through it like I don't need to be the only one who's figured this out and then survived it. I want  others survive and thrive, not just through the process, but even on the other side of it.

Sydney Mitchell:   13:06
Yeah, that's so good that's so key and I I you know, I can see how somebody considering mediation, you know, that would be an important thing to them. You know, maybe our listeners are considering mediation. You know, you're somebody that's been through the thick of it. And you really understand the ins and outs. I've got a couple of questions on that really quick. I heard you mentioned that. Um, you know, obviously this process is very expensive. Um, and your journey seemed to have been. Seems to have been, you know, quite a long one. How much did it cost to you? How much did you divorce cost you in your ex wife?

Matthew Brickman:   13:35
Okay, so the divorce cost us the filing fee. We paid $409. That was that. We were divorced. Like back then there was no mediation requirements. We don't have attorneys. It was a way we just had to pay the filing fee. Filing fee. Now, post divorce. Um, 13.5 years with attorneys fees and everything on my end. I don't know what she spent. I spent 20 grand. Yeah, that now the typical typical cost. And these were new statistics I found online just recently. Average divorce with attorneys costs $30,000. $15,000 each. Takes approximately 22 months to resolve. Uh, wow. Now contrast that with me, 20% of my business There's no attorneys involved. I worked with phenomenal attorneys out of the almost, I think, 600 or so attorneys that I've worked with. There's like, five of them that are the typical poster children of attorneys that people like. Oh, my gosh, I ate attorneys there. sharks. They're awful people. NO! Family attorneys are phenomenal. Most of them are, you know, moms, dads. They've been through the process. A lot of them have been divorced. They understand they're wonderful people, but not always. Do you need an attorney? Not always can you afford an attorney? So with me

Sydney Mitchell:   14:48
I think a lot of people don't realize that either.  

Matthew Brickman:   14:50

Sydney Mitchell:   14:51
you don't need an attorney.

Matthew Brickman:   14:52
Well, so it was a number of years. I think it was, Ah, 2008, I think somewhere around there, um, maybe a little bit later was when law started to change and you no longer needed an attorney to go into a courtroom, but in Florida they made mediators a statutory requirement. And so what they found was mediation works. And it's a place where the parties now have vested interest monetarily. They they then also have a say they have more creative say and so, you know, coming to maybe 20% of my business. There are no attorneys involved, and people can come to me get through the entire process that's paying their filing fee, their mediation, fee the parenting class and do it for under $3000 take maybe about a month or so to resolve, depending on their timeline and how fast they file and how fast they fill out their paperwork. But there's a big contrast between $30,000 and $3000 and 22 months and 1 month, but, you know, the choice is up to them. But it's definitely an option.

Sydney Mitchell:   15:51
And one of the things that I've heard you say in our in our own conversations and, you know, as a kind of prepared for this and you telling me about what it is that you do, you help families take control of their own situation. You know, I think maybe a lot maybe some of our listeners have a preconceived notion of, you know, they're gonna hire a mediator and they're going to get into this room, and the mediator's gonna be the one, um, you know, facilitating conversation, but making the decisions. I've heard you explain it this way that you're you're there to guide, You know, parents or couples in finding creative solutions to achieve the agreement that they want.

Matthew Brickman:   16:26
Yeah. So, you know, one of the just amazing things about mediation is in mediation, the party's mom, dad, husband, wife, wife, wife, husband, husband. Doesn't matter. The you know, the two people in dispute in mediation, they're in charge. The attorney is not in charge. I am not in charge. A judge is not in charge they're in charge. They get to make their own decisions. I am there to empower them I'm there to give them creative suggestions. I'm there to give explanations. But I have no decision making authority. I'm not a judge. Um, I am. I have no decision making authority. I make a I make space for them to make their own decision. And that decision can be to settle or that can that that decision can be to give up their decision making authority and let a judge tell them. But either way, I make a space for them to take control. However they want to take control.

Sydney Mitchell:   17:28
Did you feel that you had that opportunity in in your own journey were you experience, like, you know, being on the other end of, you know, mediation and then later on in life, becoming a mediator.

Matthew Brickman:   17:39
Okay. Fun story. I just recently had a mediation with an attorney named Karen Johnson. And, yes, Karen, I'm going to use your name. You're a phenomenal attorney, phenomenal mediator. And I had the best attorney in the world. Roni  Devack. Oh, my gosh. I love Roni. Those two women inspired me to do what I'm doing today. If not for Roni  Devack, and if not for Karen Johnson, I would not be a mediator. Karen Johnson was my mediator. She's an attorney up in Stuart, and Roni Devack is an attorney down in Palm Beach Gardens. And I don't remember like it was so funny if I ever had to pull my mediator out of a lineup which hopefully, Karen will never be in a lineup if I ever had to. There said, OK, which which one was your mediator? I could not pick her out. I don't remember what she looked like. Um, it made like my day of mediation was such an empowering day. But it was a fog because, you know so much information's being thrown at you

Sydney Mitchell:   18:35
like you said. I mean, it's emotionally

Matthew Brickman:   18:37
emotional, draining. But she inspired me because I sat mediation going this is the coolest process in the world. I could be this and she was so empowering to me not only did she empower me to take control of my life that day, she empowered me to change the entire course and direction of my life and was such an inspiration. And it was interesting. Just just recently, I had a mediation with her. She was the attorney, and I said to her, Hey, do you remember me? And she's like, uh, like, almost like Okay, what did I do? Right? And I'm like, No, no, no. You were my mediator back in, like, 2001 or 2002  it's 2020, and she's like, Really? And I'm like, you inspired me to sit here and do what I'm doing today was blown away, but yeah, I mean, mediation is a place of empowerment. Um, I I had a, you know, I had a  mediation actually wanted first virtual mediations I ever did was for was for really, really great couple. And the wife ended up becoming a mediator. I did her mentorship. She is now a certified mediator in the State of Florida

Sydney Mitchell:   19:44
That's amazing.

Matthew Brickman:   19:45
So I mean, this

Sydney Mitchell:   19:46
that's got to be so regarding for you.

Matthew Brickman:   19:48
It is. It is. So I mean, just like for me. Not only was I empowered that day to take control of my life, but it also empowered me and gave me, you know, a direction for my life and that that is hope and peace like right, like, wow, to actually be able to create peace and have a hope that wow I've got a new direction for my life, you know, they say that the two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why. And for me, you know, 17 months after our divorce, we were ordered to mediation. And because of Karen and because of Roni, that was the day that I found out why I was put on this planet. And, you know, she inspired me. And you know, the rest is history. You know, if it's it absolutely changed my life again not just that day, because that day was a turning point. It didn't finish our war. But it was a defining moment in our battle because all of a sudden there was a shift in my mind that was, you know, she planted a seed of peace and becoming a peacemaker. And then I had to cultivate that and water that and it grew. But you know, at times and you'll find out through some of my stories, Sydney, I'm a slow learner. I'm a man. Sometimes I don't like

Sydney Mitchell:   21:08
We're also learns those sometime I could say the same thing about myself.

Matthew Brickman:   21:11
But I'll tell you, my grandmother bless her heart. Bless her soul she past couple years ago. She used to always say, Matthew, you know what? Come easy, come hard. But you know what? You always end up coming around. And so these days I always stop and she'll be like, OK, what's the path of least resistance? Okay, I'm I'm just gonna take that I don't I don't have time for the noise and chaos because I'm busy trying to help others with noise and chaos.

Sydney Mitchell:   21:35
Right. So once you once you, go ahead.

Matthew Brickman:   21:38
No, I said so you know. I mean, I don't always want to be a mediator. I mean, I didn't even know it until I was in mediation. I didn't know what mediation  was there were. There were no podcast about what's mediation. There was none.

Sydney Mitchell:   21:52
Exactly. So when your case was all said and done and over with, were you able, and this is my last question that I want to wrap up for Episode one. Were you able to co parent with your ex wife successfully in an environment that was safe and that was stable, for your kids?

Matthew Brickman:   22:07
No, I know that's probably not the answer you were looking for.

Sydney Mitchell:   22:12
I was kind of  hoping you were gonna say. Yes.

Matthew Brickman:   22:14
Yeah. No, Because if it was, I would not have filed 43 motions of contempt enforcement

Sydney Mitchell:   22:20

Matthew Brickman:   22:20
Remember? Remember, it was 17 months after our divorce that we were ordered to mediation. And then we're talking 13.5 years, so it our mediation agreement gave us a whole lot more structure that we did not have in our own divorce that we did ourselves. And so we're able to create more structure that started to put us on a path. I mean, look, you can have all the structure in the world, and if you don't have somebody on the other side that's going to follow it, then that's that's gonna lead you to court. And that's unfortunately, that's where we kept ending up. Um, but you know, did it set us on a path? Yes. Did we finally get there? Eventually. Was it hard co parenting? It is always hard to co parent. It just IS. It's just just hard to co parent. But, you know, we were able to finally get to a place of co parenting when I came to a place of forgiveness with her. Um, and that was about me choosing to set a new tone in my life and for my kids,

Sydney Mitchell:   23:39
we've certainly, I mean, even just from you know, these past few minutes we've been chatting, and you certainly have learned so much, not only from your own experiences and you know, but your education, your training, which we'll talk about maybe in the next episode. But I just want to recap a little bit of what we've talked about. So mediation is a process that allows families in fear and chaos, dealing with conflict find hope and peace in whatever their situation is. And so here that listeners there is hope for whatever struggles you find yourself in. We learned about how much it costs to get divorced, how pricey that it could be, and maybe some good ways to get around that or to find a fast, quick solution. And then, as well, we introduced some of the affects of divorce in the family. Andi, I'm really looking forward to the next two episodes discussing with you, Matthew more about that tone. You know what you said. You know what do you mean when you when you say the tone of your family? You know the depths of what that means, it looks like as well as how to peacefully co parent, um And so I'm just I'm like I said, I'm really looking forward to delving into some more of these topics with you. Matthew, thank you so much

Matthew Brickman:   24:45
For more information about my services or to schedule your mediation with me, either in person or using my iChatMediation Virtual Platform built by Cisco Communications. Visit me online at Call me at 561-262-9121, Toll-Free at 877-822-1479 or email me at