Barbara J. Katzenberg, Attorney at Law

Judge orders divorce mediation to settle trust fund issues

Massachusetts couples who are considering divorce may identify with a multitude of contentious issues that may produce stumbling blocks along the way. This is especially true when there are children involved. More and more divorcing couples and family courts are recognizing the value of divorce mediation to avoid years of ongoing litigation.

In a high-profile case involving a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and his former wife, a judge in another state recently ordered the couple to resolve their disputes with the aid of a mediator. When the couple divorced in 2010, they agreed to work together on balancing their trust accounts to similar amounts for the two younger sons as was allowed for the two older boys. The wife alleges that, to date, her former husband has failed to put the funds into the younger boys’ accounts. She also claims that he does not respond to e-mails requesting a meeting about this matter.

In turn, the husband claims that his former wife failed to react to his e-mail requests for discussions about the funds and visitation. He asserts that he has made provisions for the younger children in his will and that the two boys are also named as the beneficiaries of his retirement accounts. He did, however, admit that he had failed to inform his ex-wife of these arrangements. The judge ordered the couple to commence mediation within a month.

Massachusetts couples may benefit from utilizing the available divorce mediation services prior to filing for divorce. Having an objective third party to facilitate communication and effect compromise may assist a couple in reaching agreements that would suit both spouses. In addition, the mediator may ensure that the best interests of the children will not be compromised when agreements are reached.

Source: The Augusta Chronicle, "Judge orders mediation in Sanford divorce", Bruce Smith, July 14, 2014

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