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Efforts to try to ensure that divorcing couples can remain friends and give paramount importance to the effects of divorce on children will be major topics of discussion for the roughly 50 attorneys and other professionals slated to take part today in the New York State Council on Divorce Mediations’ first conference in the Buffalo Niagara region.

The daylong session is slated to begin at 8:30 a.m. at the Buffalo Yacht Club at One Porter Avenue.

Clare Piro, the Westchester County attorney who is president of the 230-member state council, said the field is growing as more people come to realize that mediation is “less adversarial and more economical” than the often bitter court proceedings involving divorcing couples.

Williamsville attorney Nadia Shahram, who organized the Buffalo conference along with Buffalo attorney Bridget M. O’Connell, said she and other divorce mediators strive to ensure that, if possible, divorcing couples remain friends even after the breakup of their marriage. Mediators include attorneys, social workers, financial planners, health industry professionals and other business persons.

Piro stressed that divorce mediators must have 40 hours of training by the state’s various mediation programs and then periodic continuing education sessions.

She said the 30-year-old divorce mediation council, whose website is www.nysmediate.org, strives to make mediation the first choice for couples separating, divorcing or experiencing family conflicts.

The council’s mediators are trained to encourage better communication between couples, ensure that the two parties feel they have more control over the process of a marital dissolution and strive to make the mediations quicker and more cost-effective than court proceedings.

The mediation process also is designed to be more emotionally protective of families than standard divorce court proceedings, she said.

The Buffalo conference is expected to run until about 3:40 p.m.

email: mgryta@buffnews.com