|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
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
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
|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
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
couples use the MOU to serve as the basis of a Separation
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