Barbara J. Katzenberg, Attorney at Law
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Divorce mediation offers platform for conflict resolution

Divorce mediation offers couples seeking a divorce in Massachusetts the power to take control of their post-divorce lives rather than having a family court judge make decisions without significant insight into the family's unique dynamics. When there are children involved, the important decisions to be made in the years ahead will be easier for parents who are able to maintain open channels of communication. Divorce mediation can lay a foundation for effective conflict resolution in the future. The compliance rate is said to be consistently higher in mediated settlements as compared to court-ordered settlements.

A mediator is a neutral third-party who will start off the process by getting familiar with both spouses and their children. The mediator will assess the financial information provided by the parties. Each party will have the opportunity to talk -- uninterrupted -- about issues of concern or contention. Open issues will be identified, and the mediator will encourage communication and suggest compromise when necessary. Mediation has proved an effective way to ensure a level playing field between the parties, particularly in those circumstances where one party tries to dominate the discussions.

Other professionals, such as tax consultants and appraisers, can be called in to give guidance as needed. On rare occasions, some issues may remain unresolved, even after mediation. All settled issues can be recorded in an agreement, and the parties can either choose to litigate the rest, or come back to mediation after further consideration.

Both spouses are entitled to have their respective attorneys present during divorce mediation. Once all issues are agreed upon, the mediator will draft an agreement to be reviewed by both attorneys, who typically assist in the legal procedures. Papers must be filed with the court, along with the request for a judgment of divorce. Disclosure documents will be prepared and filed, and the prepared agreement can be filed with the court. Some Massachusetts attorneys are also experienced mediators; however, while acting in that capacity, an attorney may not give either party legal advice.

Source: FindLaw, "Divorce Mediation FAQ", Accessed on Jan. 23, 2016

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