Neutrality and the divorce mediation process

When a Massachusetts resident hires an attorney to manage his legal matters he is asking that professional to be his counselor and advocate. Many legal matters can and often migrate toward litigation when they cannot otherwise be resolved; for this reason individuals utilize the services of legal professionals to give them assistance in clearing up their disputes. Family law is one area of the law where disputes often arise and when a divorce goes to court each party generally has his or her own legal representative.

As previously discussed on this blog, divorce mediation does not involve a litigious environment in which opposing parties spar off with their own counselors. Mediation is done in an environment ofneutrality and with a mediator who does not take the side of either party. During a divorce or family law negotiation a mediator hears what the parties have to offer and provides information to them regarding the laws relevant to their particular cases.

Another duty that a divorce mediator will often adopt is to give parties options for how they may find resolutions to their pending or disputed issues. A mediator will not make the decision for divorcing individuals on how to settle their quarrels. Instead, the mediator will offer the parties different ways of reconciling their differences in order to bring about closure to their marriages.

A goal of mediation is to avoid the contentiousness that can occur during a litigated divorce. However, mediation and collaborative divorces are not always the right choices for all couples. Attorneys who work in the divorce and mediation fields can provide their clients with more information on whether mediation may be right for their marital dissolutions.

Choose mediation to alleviate the strains of divorce

The nature of divorce is contentious. Any Suffolk County resident who has gone through a marital dissolution knows that conflict is often the reason for the divorce and that divergence often perpetuates through the legal termination of the marriage. Constant quarrels between separating spouses can leave divorcing parties exhausted, depleted of money and worn out by the process.

However, individuals in the area who choose to divorce have other options. Mediation is a way for parties interested in ending their marriages to work together to find agreeable solutions to their divorce matters. Professionals trained in divorce and family law mediation can help such parties talk through issues related to their divorces and find ways around conflict by offering neutral, unbiased guidance to those spouses who can responsibly work together.

Divorce mediation is not for all couples and some people do prefer having judicial settings for managing the details of their separations. When partners to a marriage cannot put their feelings toward each other aside they may not be able to find success through a participant-driven mediated divorce. For those that are able to work together, however, mediation can save them time, money and emotional resources often overspent in courtroom divorce hearings.

It is important that divorcing parties find mediators who they can work with and who understand the important steps couples must take to legally end their relationships through such a process. The Walters Law Office provides complete divorce mediation services to partners looking for just such opportunities. To learn more about the firm’s practice in this area, please visit its website on divorce and family law mediation.

Why should I try to avoid trial in a Massachusetts divorce?

Celebrity divorces make it seem like battling it out in court is the norm, that it is the most effective way to get what you want. As with any other aspect of celebrity life, we have to remember that they aren’t always like us — despite what PEOPLE Magazine says.

Did you know that approximately 90 percent of divorce cases reach settlement before ever going to trial? It is a statistic reported by Forbes based on expert estimates. The truth is that there are very real benefits to avoiding court by settling, either through mediation, negotiation or collaborative divorce. One of the largest benefits? The amount of control that each spouse has over the outcome of the divorce.

Judges in Massachusetts make decisions about property division, spousal support and child custody based on specific state law. Although there are definite laws, it doesn’t mean that these are always clear. A judge has a lot of discretion in making decision, and there is no way to guarantee that the judge will make them in your favor.

When you and your spouse agree to a settlement out of court, you make the decisions. Yes, you are probably going to have to make some concessions, but you have a lot of control over which ones you are willing to make. You can spend time focusing on creating an agreement that is truly tailored to you and your family.

In addition, the cost of cooperation is more often than not much lower than litigation. The details of the settlement can be kept confidential. A final bonus? It can help you address the emotional aspects of divorce that often motivate decisions or requests. It can be cathartic or just less stressful.

Source: Forbes, “When Divorcing, Why Is War Often The Preferred Option?” Russ Alan Prince, Oct. 22, 2014

Mediation can result in binding orders for family law matters

When a Massachusetts judge decides how a family law matter should be resolved, that judicial officer will create an order that stipulates just how the parties must act with regard to the custody, support or divorce matter under consideration. A judicially created order is binding on the parties. This means that the parties are required to act in accordance with the terms of the order or they may face real penalties like claims of contempt of court.

The Massachusetts courts allow parties to use mediation to resolve their family law differences. As previously discussed on this blog, a mediation session brings opposing parties together before a neutral, unbiased mediator. That mediator does not represent either of the parties and does not advocate for a particular resolution to their family law dispute.

During the mediation session the parties can talk through issues to try to resolve their own problem in a hands-on manner. They are not subject to the mandates of a judge and can resolve their disputes on their own terms. If they are able to come up with a way to fix their problems in mediation, the terms of the decision are embodied in a settlement agreement.

In many situations the agreement that the parties make in mediation is considered a legal contract. Contracts bind people to their terms and often include enforcement and penalty clauses that explain what can happen if a party fails to abide by the agreement’s terms. In some situations a family court judge may adopt a settlement agreement as an enforceable order and give the order the judicial weight of a judge-made order.

Mediation gives people the power to settle their own differences. The agreements they make in mediation can be enforceable just as orders made by judges are enforceable. Both mediation and courtroom hearings can be appropriate ways to handle family law disputes.

Our law firm can help you mediate your divorce

The Walters Law Offices include in their practice the mediation of Massachusetts divorces. As prior posts on this family law blog have discussed, mediation is an alternative to a traditional court-based divorce. Individuals who wish to talk through the issues related to the ends of their marriages outside of the courtroom may benefit from working in the mediation process.

Mediation can address many topics that fall under the general heading of divorce. For example, child custody matters may be negotiated between the parties to a divorce in a mediated setting. Additionally, the financial aspects of a divorce, such as property division matters, child custody, and alimony, may be discussed during a divorce-related mediation.

Mediation is not always the best option for every Massachusetts couple that finds its marriage ending in divorce. Interpersonal issues that prevent the individual partners to a marriage from speaking openly and honestly about their divorce plans may inhibit the mediation process. However, any couple that desires to begin its divorce in mediation may, if necessary, move its divorce to a more traditional setting in the family courts.

The attorneys of the Walters Law Offices have represented clients who have pursued mediated as well as traditional divorces. They recognize that not all couples may initially be interested in mediating the ends of their marriages. However, parties who would like to learn more about what it truly means to mediate a divorce may always contact the firm for more information about this aspect of its practice. Understanding mediation as an ends to a marriage gives some parties options for controlling the way that they separate their lives from those of their soon to be ex-spouses.

Mediation can be an important option for divorce

Every married Massachusetts couple is unique in its own way. How the partners of a couple interact, how they make decisions and how they share responsibilities can vary greatly from household to household. Whether they have kids, what types of property they own and other marital factors can also set one married couple apart from its neighbors. Incidentally, how Massachusetts couples approach divorce can therefore vary a great deal as well.

Because couples and even the individual members of a single couple may approach divorce differently, the state provides different ways for spouses to negotiate their divorces. Most people know that a divorce may be litigated in a family law court with the assistance of attorneys. A divorce may also be negotiated through mediation with the help of a neutral party.

Mediation can have benefits as well as drawbacks. For example, while the cost of a divorce may be reduced when the partners are able to talk out their decisions in a mediated environment, some individuals may not feel comfortable working directly with their soon-to-be ex to hash out the details of their separations.

Couples who mediate their divorces may feel more confident in the outcomes since they made the decisions themselves, though couples who cannot work together and experience conflict may prefer the use of a family law judge to decide important issues for them.

What is important for Massachusetts readers of this family law blog to realize is that they do not have to follow the path to divorce that their acquaintances followed. They have options for divorcing their spouses and family law legal professionals can help them decide how best to address their pending divorces. The Walters Law Offices help clients pursuing divorce through both the courts and mediation. Our law firm’s website can provide general information to those who wish to learn more about their divorce options.

Mediation and collaborative law are different divorce processes

This family law blog has included posts about the benefits divorce mediation could have for couples dissolving their marriage. However, another form of cooperative negotiation can also bring about a supportive end to a marriage. Collaborative law, and its applicability to collaborative divorce, is an alternative method of litigation to reaching the legal end of a marriage.

Both mediation and collaborative law hold as hallmarks the compliant nature of negotiations between the parties. They attempt to take the adversarial nature of divorce out of the equation by letting couples talk out issues to establish their custody, support and property division decisions. Though they share many commonalities, there are differences between the mediation and collaborative law divorce processes.

For example, in mediation the parties do not always choose to have their own legal representatives. While a mediator may be an attorney, that individual does not advocate for either one of the partners to the divorcing couple. In a collaborative divorce, the parties usually do have their own lawyers.

Additionally, mediation focuses on getting couples to the ends of their marriages and may not require the full exchange of information between the parties that is achieved through discovery in a litigated divorce. Collaborative divorce has a more formal information gathering process, and with their attorneys, divorcing couples can ask each other for more data in that legal environment than in a mediated setting.

There are other factors that make the mediated divorce and collaborative law divorce routes different, but at their cores, they are both committed to keeping the divorce process respectful and concerted. Couples who are planning to divorce and are interested in possibly pursuing collaborative or mediated methods may decide to research further the commonalities and differences that exist between the two processes.

When should divorcing couples choose mediation?

Divorce mediation is a process through which a Massachusetts couple may end their marriage without resorting to litigation in court. A mediated divorce typically takes less time to complete than courtroom litigation because in most cases the parties to the mediation are willing to work together to end the marriage. However, when couples cannot work together to reach their common goal of divorce they can opt for a traditional litigated divorce.

If one spouse desires mediation and the other prefers to go to court, the parties may want to have a look at the pros and cons of mediation and the traditional courtroom route.

First, Mediated divorce may be faster and less expensive than litigated divorce. Second, mediation can help keep a lid on the kind of anger and resentment that so often goes along with a divorce in the adversarial courtroom setting. A more peaceful end to the marriage can be especially important for divorcing couples who have young children.

However, there are advantages to the courtroom setting, as well. For one, a court can compel testimony from a party who doesn’t wish to speak. Additionally, although a judge typically approves the agreement after a mediated divorce, a litigated divorce ends with a judge formally determining the outcome. based on the merits of the case.

Mediation requires a commitment from each party to work toward a fair settlement. In a highly acrimonious divorce, in which the parties can’t agree to even a place and time to negotiate, mediation is probably not going to work. In these cases, a judge may have to make decisions for the parties.

If the divorcing spouses can at least agree that they’d like to save time and money, they should at least investigate the possibility of mediation or other alternative dispute resolution methods. Attorneys skilled in mediation and collaborative law can help Massachusetts residents to understand their options.

The role of mediation in a collaborative divorce

In music, an artistic collaboration may bring together artists of different styles, genres or even generations. In literature, a collaborative work may put on display the writing talents of authors across different literary realms. Collaboration, therefore, has to do with bringing together elements that may not be completely alike or in synch.

Similarly, Massachusetts residents can now seek to end their marriages in a collaborative way. It can make sense for the right couple: when a couple decides that it is time to separate it is highly likely that the partners to the failing relationship are starting to experience differences between them. In a collaborative divorce, those differences are acknowledged and solutions to conflict are actively sought out.

The collaborative approach to ending a marriage is not for everyone. Generally, couples who have few disputes do better in the process than couples who battle over every small decision that must be made. In essence, a collaborative divorce allows otherwise agreeable partners to work through the ends of their marriages without the court’s interference.

From time to time, however, a collaborative divorce hits a point of contention through which it simply cannot proceed. Rather than going to court to settle the dispute, the divorcing parties and their legal representatives can utilize the services of a mediator. Previous posts on this blog have discussed the role of mediation in divorce; though a mediator does not advocate for one party or resolution, he or she can talk parties through their options for finding peace on a point of contention.

Collaborative law extends to the family law world through collaborative divorce. The process allows couples to talk through issues and find harmony to their conflicts outside of a courtroom. While accord is generally found in a collaborative divorce, couples can settle their differences in the process through the utilization of mediation.

Characteristics of collaborative divorce

When a couple decides to end their marriage via divorce there are multiple ways that this may be accomplished. Some choose to go to court and litigate the matter in front of a judge. Others select arbitration, where the decision is made by a third-party decision maker. For some couples, mediation, where the couple gets to determine the outcome with the assistance of a neutral third party, is the way to go. In still other situations collaborative divorce is selected.

Readers may be wondering just what collaborative law is and whether it could be a good option for them. In this post we will address this question.

A collaborative divorce is designed to let the couple determine the terms of the divorce. When necessary, neutral professionals in a variety of fields may be called upon to provide guidance on matters affecting the outcome of the divorce. These individuals include: real estate evaluators, business valuators, mental health professionals, child specialists and financial neutrals.

There are multiple positives to this approach for couples who are able and willing to work through their differences. For example, because the focus is on working through issues together, couples are forced to communicate—an activity that they may have struggled with in their marriage. When children are involved this could bode well for co-parenting in the future.

In addition, the process takes less time than litigating the matter in court which in turn generally ends up costing less. For many who are starting a new chapter of life this is particularly appealing.

Divorcing couples interested in learning more about collaborative divorce should ask their lawyers about the process.

Source: CNBC, “Collaborative divorce can ease emotional, economic stress,” Deborah Nason, May 2, 2014

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