Divorce Mediation Article Roseville MN

Former Pastor Helps Couples Divorce with Dignity

Heather Edwards, staff writer       Roseville Review: March 2, 2011

When it comes to marriage, the Bible notes, “What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” But former North Heights Lutheran Church pastor Jeffrey Dorman is helping couples do exactly that.

As an assistant pastor at the Arden Hills/Roseville church from 1986-2002, Dorman found himself helping many members of the congregation to resolve life issues. After hearing thanks and praise for his mediation skills, he wondered if he should investigate a career change. He left the church, studied mediation at Hamline University School of Law, and has launched a business offering mediation for divorce and other issues. Dorman Mediation, LLC is located in White Bear Township near Vadnais Heights.

A valued ‘neutral party’
Divorce mediation is a growing trend for couples who have already decided to go their separate ways. During mediation, spouses meet to discuss everything from financial matters, where children will live, or who gets the mementos they purchased on their honeymoon. The mediator facilitates the discussions and provides a calming, neutral presence.

Among other benefits, mediation is significantly cheaper than the cost of employing divorce lawyers. According to Dorman, a “fairly easy” divorce can cost a couple from $10,000 to $15,000 in lawyer fees, but a mediator can be employed for $2,000 to $4,000.

In addition, mediation promotes a “healthier” divorce. “It’s a better psychological situation,” says Dorman. “It’s healthier emotionally to be empowered to work out problems, rather than giving up your power and saying that a judge is going to make these decisions for you.

“(Mediation) can work toward healing and leave (the divorced couple) feeling good about themselves, rather than feeling like they were victims,” he adds.

Even couples who may think they’re too angry and hurt to benefit from mediation can find it’s a viable option. “It’s not an issue of whether you like each other enough to sit at the same table,” Dorman says. “Many high-conflict situations can successfully go through mediation.”

Typically, mediation isn’t an option if there is an order of protection against a spouse or a spouse is not mentally capable of handling the process. But for most couples, especially those with children who will be seeing their spouse on a regular basis, mediation can be a Godsend. “It’s not necessarily a win/win situation,” Dorman explains. “It’s more of an ‘I can live with this if you can live with this.'”

What’s a Christian’s role?
However, some Christians could argue that Dorman’s career change challenges the traditions of the church, citing the Bible verse Matthew 5:32: ” I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.”

The church’s stance on divorce has been “an awkward thing” for decades, according to Dorman. “The church traditionally says divorce is not a helpful option, and that we should do what we can to make marriage loving,” he notes. “But the church has ended up with the reality that 50 percent of marriages end in divorce, and we must offer grace and hope and love to those (who divorce) and minister to their needs.”  It’s a case of meeting people where they are, he says. “Nothing I’m doing is promoting divorce. But there are people who have important reasons for divorcing.”

Volunteering outside vocation
Dorman says he fully realized value of mediation when he began volunteering at the Conflict Resolution Center in Minneapolis. At the CRC, volunteers work with a number of underserved populations to find effective and peaceful resolutions to conflicts. The situations vary, but the end goal is always the same: to solve problems with the guidance of a mediator.

According to Karmit Bulman, Executive Director of the CRC, Dorman’s service to the organization has been invaluable.
“It is very helpful having someone with Jeff’s background work as a mediator. He has tremendous people skills, is a very likeable person and he’s the kind of person who empowers others to do their best. He’s really all about helping people come up with their own solutions,” she says.

Although Dorman no longer serves as a pastor, he feels he has found his “calling.”
“I feel called to resolve conflict in a way that is healthy and in a couple’s best interest,” he says.

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