How does Divorce Mediation work, exactly?
Parties choosing to agree that irreconcilable differences have led to the irremediable breakdown of the marriage select a Rule 8 Certified Divorce Mediator in Massachusetts. This trained Professional acts as a neutral third party who facilitates discussion in one or more sessions to help the parties come to an agreement on the issues involving their circumstances. By law, the trained Professional Mediator cannot represent the individual interests of any individual party.
Should the parties reach an agreement on the issues of marital property division, custody, parenting plan, child support and alimony, or on any other issues prevailing in their marriage, then the Divorce Mediator may draft the parties' Separation Agreement.
The parties then appear before a Judge in the Probate and Family Court in their area during a brief hearing.
How do I know if it is right for me?
This is a very individual choice. It requires that both parties put forth their good faith effort to work together to resolve any areas of conflict. While the overwhelming majority of couples who participate in divorce mediation come to an agreement leading to the drafting of a Separation Agreement, some couples are not able to agree on all of the issues. In that case, the benefit of mediation is that the couple has narrowed down the issues that still need to be resolved. Accordingly, subsequent litigation will be less involved and expensive. Thus, mediation is an opportunity for couples to save time and money, by exploring ways in which they may be able to resolve all the issues in their particular circumstance in a cooperative fashion.
Why would I want to try this?
Most clients find confidential divorce mediation reduces costs, provides stability, and achieves a better tomorrow in the shortest time, while the process endeavors to preserve the personal relationships of the parties. Divorce Mediation can be an effective way to empower the parties to develop a Separation Agreement that the Courts in Massachusetts will enforce.
What are the other advantages of trying to work things out this way?
The major advantage of the mediation process is that the parties, rather than the Court, can decide how their future will proceed. The parties retain total control over the terms of agreement rather than relying on a Judge to apply strict evidentiary rules to reach an outcome that neither party may find desirable. Because the parties work together to bring about a solution to their specific needs, they often find the process preserves their long term relationships. As retired Judge Edward Ginsburg stated after each divorce involving children, "There can be ex husbands and ex wives, but parents are forever."
Perhaps most importantly, when parties work together to find solutions most suitable to their circumstances, they tend to be more inclined to comply with the final agreement they created once they are divorced. Divorce mediation is rooted in cooperation, not contentious, alienating litigation. The spirit of cooperation inevitably transcends the divorce, enabling future issues to be resolved more amicably.