Forrest S. Mosten has been a mediator in private practice since 1979, teaches mediation at UCLA School of Law, trains mediators worldwide, and is the author of four books and numerous articles on mediation. He specializes in handling mediations involving high conflict parties and challenging legal issues in the areas of divorce, family law, partnerships, employment , probate, real estate, commercial and organizational (companies and non-profit entities) disputes. and other complex civil lawsuits. He is often engaged to mediate the most difficult matters in which a prior mediation did not result in a full agreement.
Woody is also a member of a small team of mediators and independent collaborative professionals serving Southern California.
I employ strategic planning and a full toolbox of mediation tactics. I work with parties and counsel to design a process that will resolve their dispute. While I prefer low-key, safe, and a facilitative tone and format, I increase directive and evaluative approaches where necessary. My article, “Muscle Mediation,” demonstrates that I can play hard-ball if necessary in order to settle a case.
I have pioneered the use of pre-mediation private sessions with parties in order to prepare them to maximize success at the joint sessions.
I prefer non-confidential briefs so that counsel can educate and persuade the other side and help bring reality and dissonance into risk analysis.
I urge parties and counsel to both make opening statements to encourage participation in the process and stimulate discussion that motivates movement.
No two mediations have ever been identical—I am usually retained due to my creative and innovative approach to designing format and helping develop comprehensive and workable settlements. I am both patient and tireless. I never give up and often my confidence is the single factor that motivates conflicted parties to reach settlement.
Conflict is pernicious—ending it with dignity and a workable solution frees parties to cut losses and move on with their lives. I urge parties to focus on one variable… “Can I Live with This Agreement?”
I believe that with the proper information and facilitation, people in conflict can take control of their own lives and settle their disputes with dignity and affordable fees. Most disputes originate from a good relationship that has gone sour: business partners start a company with friendship and dreams, a husband and wife take their vows hoping to be together forever; an employee takes a job hoping for a secure and lucrative career; owners of real estate and their contractors hope to build a building affordable, quickly, and with quality. With the use of my legal knowledge and mediation experience, I enjoy helping people resolve their differences and move on to more profitable and satisfying chapters in their lives. I honor the empowerment and control that both parties and their lawyers seek in mediation. Settlements must work after the mediation—they can not be built on sand.
December 16, 2014
In an interview with host Virginia Colin, Woody Mosten discusses why family mediation peace-making services are so important, why court is much too often a health hazard for families, some of the reasons people hire family mediators to help them resolve family problems, and how a mediator can build a career.
According to Forrest Mosten, a Los Angeles mediator, family law specialist and the author of A Complete Guide to Mediation (American Bar Association), mediation is a new alternative to divorce litigation. “As people become disenchanted with our court systems, and as we become aware of the significant impact that a family breakup has on children, more people are turning to mediation.” Mediation isn't marriage counseling—that's for couples who want to get back together again. You may discuss your feelings about the marriage and the decision to divorce during the process, but the goal of mediation is to reach agreements that will help you, your ex, and your children (if any) adjust to the divorce—and resolve future issues together.
Before going into a mediation or collaborative negotiation session, I encourage all separated and divorced parents to do the parenting work on UpToParents.org. The newest parenting site is www.CoParenter.com which gives easy to use tools to draft successful letters to your co-parent and to develop and tweak your parenting plan. I also recommend that parents use the suggested age appropriate parenting plans provided by the Los Angeles Superior Court (see below) and the communication tools of OurFamilyWizard.com as resources to help their children. Most importantly, listen to your children. The movie, www.Splitfilm.org (click on video clip) is the most useful resource. For less than 10% of the cost of an hour of a mediator or a lawyer, this film has children of divorce discuss their impressions and feelings of how divorce affects their lives and how parents can make it better for their children.
Up To Parents offers free help for separated, divorced, and never-married parents. Because peace for children is success for parents.
CoParenter is a mission-driven social venture that promotes the well-being of children. We do this by providing education, tools, and technology to help parents communicate, optimize their coParenting skills, and make better, more informed, child-centric decisions for their kids.
Visit OurFamilyWizard.com for online tools to help your family manage shared parenting (paid service).
Comments of Los Angeles Lawyers about
Forrest Mosten as a Successful Professional Mediator
Professor Stephen B. Goldberg of Northwestern School of Law and Margaret Shaw, a mediator with JAMS in New York, have written a comprehensive article on "The Secrets of Successful (and Unsuccessful) Mediators, Studies II and III published in 23 Negotiation Journal 393-418 (October 2007). Professor Goldberg's first study, "Secrets of Successful Mediators" (discussing mediators" self-reported "Secrets of Success" ) was published in 21 Negotiation Journal 365-376 (July 2005).
Professor Goldberg has kindly granted permission for Mr. Mosten to post the following comments by 10 lawyers who commented on Mr. Mosten's Success as a Mediator.
Your strong point, as identified by the responding advocates, was your process skills. You received many rave reviews. I have selected excerpts from some of them:
I would say that Woody is extremely patient and kind. He gives all parties and clients the opportunity to tell their story—to say everything they need to say, because they need to get their problems off their chest—no matter how boring or inconsequential… He is tireless at listening to whatever needs to be said. As great as that is, he has all the right tools at his fingertips—and he uses them.
I think the best quality that Woody possesses is his he ability to allow each person the time to share their view and feelings regarding the situation at hand. He doesn’t allow people to go on for hours and hours and hours, but he lets all parties express their views—no matter how far off, or how far removed from reality, or when the views will have nothing to do with final considerations in the case ultimately. He never says or acts as if you’re way off… He has a calming and peaceful demeanor. Each client who’s there feels comfortable. He creates a safe zone… He’s creative; always looking for alternatives outside the box.
Woody has an incredible amount of patience. But, he also really lets parties know when it’s time to move.
He’s a great listener; he’s very creative, very good at getting to the real interests of the parties. He’s good at initially establishing a range of options that suit people’s real interests. He’s also very good at keeping people positive and on track.
He has a really good understanding of the limitations of what the adversarial process can accomplish… Woody tries to get away from the language of rights and focuses more on a realistic plan, (e.g., what can this process give you that the adversarial legal system cannot give you?)
Woody is keen on keeping people talking, humanizing each case a little, getting people over the real angry zone, and getting people to a more practical solution and mode of communication… He pushes for the compromise and establishing ongoing communication systems.
A sincere regard for others and a sincere interest in their problems.
A soft and rich voice which conveys empathy.
A comfort with the skills needed for mediation, honed over years of experience.
A wisdom of one who knows his craft well. Who has acquired the wisdom to know when one approach is not working and to try another tactic, the wisdom of knowing that the anger being expressed by one of the parties is actually pain, the wisdom of knowing how much might be accomplished and what is not possible.
I guess patience is number one. He’s a very good listener, and he’s also creative about coming up with ideas on how to resolve a problem… He basically depends on the law (in an evaluative sense) to let people know what their rights are, and to let them know what they may be giving up if they do X instead of Y)… I think he is fair and instills trust. He doesn’t have partiality to any gender.
He is exceptional at diffusing “hot button” issues and keeping parties on track. He does this with interest based techniques that show parties that there is a common goal. He re-frames positions that parties take so that they will listen to ideas instead of shutting down. He is exceptional at diffusing “hot button” issues and keeping parties on track. He does this with interest based techniques that show parties that there is a common goal. He re-frames positions that parties take so that they will listen to ideas instead of shutting down.
First of all he’s intelligent, he knows the law, he knows the personalities involved—the attorneys, judges, the “players”) and he knows the downside of using the court system… He’s not shy about telling the parties the difficulties in using the court system and lauding the benefits you reap from mediation—in that very nice way that only Woody can do. For me he has taken some very difficult cases and made them work beautifully. He creates situations where the parties can live better without tearing up the estate. He thinks outside the box. With mediation you can do so much more that you can do in court.