Family Co-Mediation Dispute Resolution
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Team approach to mediation and dispute resolution
When getting a divorce in Massachusetts, there are a number of decisions that have to be made regarding the division of property, assets and liabilities, spousal support, and the custody, care and support of children.

Family Co-Mediation can provide parties seeking divorce with the information they will need to file with the courts.

Divorce mediation at Family Co-Mediation is a process that assists the divorcing couple with the full spectrum of decision-making required of a divorcing couple.

Studies have found that couples who choose to mediate their divorce are:
  • Less likely to experience post-divorce conflict because they have arrived at their agreements cooperatively.

  • More able to work together around co-parenting issues because they have improved their communication skills.

  • More satisfied with the shorter length of time and the reduced financial cost in comparison to couples using the traditional divorce process with two individual attorneys.

The Divorce Mediation Process: Intake
The process at Family Co-Mediation usually begins with a telephone conversation with each of you. We talk about where you are in your thinking/planning process. Some couples have already done a tremendous amount of thinking and planning about their divorce. Some have already separated and reached many agreements.

Couples might be looking for assistance with just a couple of unfinished items, or for guidance around filing for divorce, or for help in putting their agreements in writing. Other couples are at the very beginning of the long divorce process, and may not even be clear that divorce is what they want.  In this telephone conversation, we also offer information about Family Co-Mediation and our process, and what we value about working together in a mediation team.

The Divorce Mediation Process: First Meeting
At our first meeting, we review together our shared understandings about you and where you are in your thinking/planning process.  We also discuss what Family Co-Mediation can offer to you (and what we can’t offer, e.g., legal or financial advice, or therapy) as mediators.  We affirm that the mediators and parties have no prior relationships (and disclose it if we do) or any reasons to believe that the mediators’ neutrality could be compromised. If, in our first half hour of meeting, you choose not to proceed with mediation, there is no charge to you.

We then all sign our mediation agreement and begin. We might start with an issue that is most pressing for you. If there is no urgency on any issue, we might start with an overview of the issues you will need to decide, and identify the kinds of information you will need to gather in order to make decisions.   Our first meeting usually ends with a scheduling of a next meeting, though not always. And it usually ends with some "homework" to be done in preparation for our next meeting.

The Divorce Mediation Process: The Guts of Negotiation
At Family Co-Mediation we usually set aside two hours for a mediation session, although sometimes it might be less, and sometimes more. Your needs and requests are our guide. Both of us take notes during our sessions, so that we capture just about everything that needs to be incorporated into your written document.

The number of sessions required to complete the process often depends on:
  • The complexity of your particular situation, including finances and properties, parenting and children.

  • The nature and extent of your conflicts and disagreements.

Occasionally, though rarely, a divorce mediation is completed in a couple of two 2-hour meetings. More typically, a mediation takes four to eight sessions, and sometimes the process extends over a much longer period of time.

Occasionally, we might decide to meet separately with each of you in order to better understand the factors contributing to an impasse in the negotiations. This is not a sign that the process is breaking down. It is a way to use all the tools at our disposal to move the process along.

The Divorce Mediation Process: Outcome
The goal of the divorce mediation process is to help you reach agreements on all the matters you have chosen to address.   At your request, we memorialize those agreements in a written Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

The product of mediation, the Memorandum of Understanding, is capable of serving as a binding document akin to any other legal contract.

Should the couple desire to divorce, they will ultimately be required to file a Separation Agreement.  A Separation Agreement is a legal document that spells out the terms and conditions under which a marital estate (the marital assets and liabilities) will be distributed and support relationships established.

Many couples use the MOU to serve as the basis of a Separation Agreement, adding the additional provisions required by the court.  Others choose to have attorneys, including a Family Co-Mediation attorney, draft the Separation Agreement.

Consistent with the desires of the couple, Family Co-Mediation can assist a couple with the preparation of all the divorce filing requirements.