Boston Divorce Mediation Attorneys
We Help Divorcing Couples Split as Peaceful as Possible
Family problems are so difficult to handle because the parties usually live together. Even if separated, they often have to deal with each other for financial or personal reasons, kids for example. Attempts at resolving the problems often just create more of them. At times, going to court and defeating a member of the family might make things worse in the long haul.
One way that the legal profession has sought to address the inherent tensions in family law is to train active mediators. These attorneys, such as of Infinity Law Group in Massachusetts, help families work through hard times to reach equitable agreements.
The overall goal of family mediation is to create peace in the homestead, which is good for society as a whole. Here are some of the most important benefits of family law mediation.
Divorce Mediation vs. Litigation: Which Is Best for You?
When a relationship fails, both parties often just want to move on with their lives. Yet, no matter the length of the marriage, their lives are intertwined in a variety of ways. The divorce process can go smoothly, but it is rare for two individuals to agree to all terms associated with the process. However, this does not automatically mean that a full-blown divorce litigation has to occur. Rather, mediation can be an option.
There’s Much to Decide On
During the divorce process, most people have numerous questions about support (for children or a spouse) as well as the division of assets, custody of children, tax implications, and other matters. Under Massachusetts law, it is essential for both parties to be given an equal ability to thrive in the future. Yet, the law does not provide very specific requirements. That is, every situation is different and every case needs a unique solution. That is where a legal team comes in to help you with mediation or litigation. Take a look at the differences in them and what you can expect moving forward.
What Happens in Litigation?
The most common method for divorce in Massachusetts remains through the litigation process. In this situation, both parties hire an attorney to represent them in a court of law. The case is filed in a court. Then, the parties present their case to a judge for matters such as child support, spousal support, asset division, and custody matters. While some discussion and concessions may be made between one party to the next, a judge is tasked with making a decision when the parties cannot agree. In short, through litigation, you allow the judge to have the final say.
What Happens in Mediation?
Mediation is a process where the goal is to work through a negotiation process to settle terms of the divorce together. Most often, individuals will find themselves unwilling to “give in” to the other party, but in mediation, that’s not what occurs. During this process, a neutral divorce mediator is brought in. This is often a licensed attorney who meets with you. The mediator will bring parties in multiple times until a decision can be made. The ultimate goal is to make these decisions outside of the court of law. This allows for the two people – those who will be living their futures apart – to make their own decisions.
Mediators do not make decisions. They do not require one party to take action over the other. We find that through mediation, both individuals tend to be able to come to a resolution that meets their unique needs. As a result, they may maintain a better long-term relationship. Mediation tends to be faster and more affordable than litigation as well.
Preventing Contentious Divorces
Divorce does not have to be contentious. Yes, that is the way it seems in the movies and on reality televisions shows; however, couples can agree to break up without all the animosity. If so, in the end, everyone, especially the children, can walk away with their self-respect, dignity and confidence.
In Massachusetts, there are both no fault and fault categories of divorces. In no fault cases, the parties decide to split without blaming one another for the dissolution. These divorces contrast with the fault cases, where one of the spouses must provide to the court evidence of extenuating circumstances that make the marriage impossible. Adultery is one such commonly accepted rationale.
A no-fault divorce can prove less costly and, definitely, less acrimonious than a fault one. The problem for some couples is that to reach this stage where no-fault is a possibility, they must first agree on the dissolution terms. Allocation of property, amount of child support and assumption of child custody being regular sources of contention.
Mediation attorneys can help put divorcing spouses on the right path. These professional advisors meet with the parties to work together to create settlement terms that all can respect. Hopefully, everyone involved, especially children, will live subsequently as normally as possible once the divorce becomes final. The possible alternative, fighting in open court, often leaves too much pain.
Renegotiation of Divorce Terms
Oftentimes, after signing the terms of divorce, circumstances change for one party. They may find that their income is not as much as they had expected. They may realize that they do not have enough time to pick up the kids as promised. Others may want to spend more time with sons and daughters now that their personal life is more stable than it had been. Yet, these changes must first meet court approval and, of course, the other party should receive notification.
It is much easier to first discuss the desired changes with the former spouse in a calm, non-adversarial environment. A mediation attorney provides just such an opportunity. They are trained to listen to both sides and work out a solution that leaves everyone better off; in stark contrast to adversarial courtroom battles where the required objective is to win the case for a client through zealous representation.
Family Law Issues Don’t Need to Be a Battle
Often, when people are thinking about bringing an issue to the family courts, one of the great sources of stress is the assumption that what is coming next is a protracted battle over a myriad of issues like is often depicted in movies and on TV. Many people reach out to us to talk about filing a case and getting the ball rolling before they’ve spoken directly with their spouse, ex-spouse, or their child’s other parent. While there are certain situations where this sort of “surprise” is necessary–where there are concerns about the safety, or it’s clear that the two parties are incapable of having any productive conversation about the issue at hand–more often than not, this isn’t the case.
The issues a family court can decide like how to split assets and debts in a divorce, how parents are going to share time with their children, whether parents will be required to make decisions together and if so how they will do this, how much child support should be paid, etc. are issues that the two parties can resolve largely between themselves or with a little bit of assistance and guidance from attorneys or a mediator. This option is usually the quickest, easiest, and least expensive both financially and emotionally. The Probate and Family Courts in Massachusetts have even recently passed new rules that make filing mutual agreements on the issues as a whole (judgments) or mutual agreements for temporary fixes to immediate issues (temporary orders) easier.
If you are seeking a divorce or a parenting plan, the first step is usually to talk to the other parent. Nobody knows your family better than the members of that family, which means those people are best suited to making decisions that work for your family. We always encourage clients to try and work things out first. A decision from the judge should always be a last resort.
The first step is knowing what issues you need to think about or resolve.
Confidentiality of Mediation
The mediation process is confidential. The mediator’s work is protected by work product confidentiality. The mediator cannot be subpoenaed as a witness if mediation fails and litigation proceeds. Anything either party says during the mediation cannot be brought up in court during the litigation process.
Although some states have exceptions to the confidentiality rule, Massachusetts confidentiality law is absolute. There are no exceptions and all matters discussed within the confines of the mediation process remain confidential.
On occasion, with the agreement of both parties, the mediator may meet privately with one party. What is said during these meetings is not shared with the other party unless agreed to.
Benefits of Mediation
There are number of reasons why divorce mediation is encouraged over litigation.
- It generally saves time and money. The parties schedule their time and do not depend on a schedule that is court-ordered. There are fewer court appearances which saves money. Also, the parties can jointly hire a mediator and other professionals that may be part of the process instead of each hiring their own.
- The parties control the decision-making process. They do what they decide works for them, not what a court says is right for them.
- According to the Massachusetts court, studies show that the parties are more satisfied with the outcome of the divorce when they have formed their own agreement. Because the couple worked out their issues on their own terms, they are much more likely to abide by the agreement than one that is court-imposed.
- When the parties abide by the agreement, future litigation is avoided.
- When children are involved, mediation is better for them. It focuses on mutual agreement and avoids the acrimony that often comes with litigation.
- Establishing a mutual parenting plan lets the children know the parents are in agreement, not in conflict.
Mediation Is a Viable Alternative to Contention
As shown here, there is at least one alternative to an all-out court battle in Massachusetts divorce proceedings. Indeed, mediation is becoming a popular means for resolving marriage splits around the world. People realize that if they have reached the point of being unable to resolve their differences, then they can dissolve the marriage without doing further harm.
Of course, the two former partners may not depart as friends, but at least they will both be able to avoid much of the animosity that marks so many divorces.
If you are considering mediation, contact our attorneys today for a free consultation.