Using “Collaborative Mediation” ™
Divorce Mediation stands in strong contrast to the traditional divorce process in which each member of a couple hires a divorce attorney to litigate or negotiate for him or her the terms of the Separation/Divorce Agreement.
Divorce Mediation saves time and cost and prevents conflict for all members of the family.
- Living arrangements, and talking with children according to age and developmental stage
- Division/buy-out/sale of real estate and marital property
- Child support using the 9/15/2017 Mass. Child Support Guidelines
- Equitable division of child expenses and educational costs
- Secure coverage for medical/dental/life insurance expenses
- Learning your current and future cash flow after taxes and expenses
- Repayment of marital and individual debt
- Minimizing tax and divorce costs
The Collaborative Mediation Process Builds Trust
Mediation clients here have the advantage of learning our own Collaborative Mediation process that builds trust and long-term negotiation skills. They will frequently work with our Certified Divorce and Financial Analyst to learn what their current net disposable monthly income is after payment of expenses and all taxes, including any family support, as well as deducting their real estate taxes, mortgage interest, personal and head of household exemptions on their Federal and State Income Taxes.
As clients move into their 50s and 60s, future cash flow including pension, retirement incomes, Social Security, investments, cash, dividends and interest are calculated so that, if desired, clients can know their cash flow even into their 90th decade!
All marital assets acquired since the beginning of the marriage, all real estate, vehicles, cash, investments, retirement plans, other employer plans, and household goods will be equitably divided.
Parenting plans are custom designed with flexibility and comfort in mind for both children and parents. Where there is a will to frequent access to one another, there is a way. Parents can see their children every day of the week if indicated, especially at the beginning of the restructuring of the family.
Our clients present the judge with a court-ready Mediated Separation Agreement, after a review attorney for one or each of them reviews the document.
Please review the Equitable Property Division Statute of Massachusetts
A quick Questionnaire to assist with the mediation process
Please review the Act to Reform and Improve Alimony
Please review the Massachusetts Family Court Financial Statement
Please review the Massachusetts Family Court Financial Statement
Please review the Massachusetts Family Court Self Employment Financial Statement
Please review the Massachusetts Rent Income Financial Statement
Please review the 2018 Child Support Guidelines
Please review the Child Support Calculator
Finally a checklist to assist you with getting your ducks in a row.
Janet Miller Wiseman, principal and owner, who works with several Certified Divorce and Financial Analysts, is an original co-founder of The Negotiation Collaborative in 1979 and the co-founder of the Mass Council on Family Mediation in 1982, an organization which provides high-level, bi-monthly continuing education to its members. Janet is a two-year past President of MCFM, the designee of the John Adams Fiske Award for Excellence in Mediation in 1982, and the original Director of Public Relations. Janet has thirty-nine years of experience in suggesting and co-crafting cost-effective, thoroughly researched, genuinely creative alternatives for settlement, not simply legalistic formulas.
Divorce Mediation FAQ
What is Divorce Mediation?
Divorce Mediation is a voluntary, confidential process which is respectful, inexpensive and beneficial in cost, time and relationship savings. It results in a Divorce Agreement which includes a parenting plan with all details about living arrangements for children, all financial arrangements for children and parents, all division of marital property and details concerning medical, life insurance, asset and liability allocation and tax considerations.
Can Mediation be successful if the couple has already retained lawyers and are involved in the court process?
Yes, definitely. Individual counsel from advocacy attorneys is helpful. Better yet, having first-hand experience, even, with an adversarial mindset and approach may be just the experience a couple needs, to know for sure that using a collaborative mediation approach is more congenial with their values and long-term needs.
What if your believe your partner is or will no reveal income or assets from the marriage or partnership?
The mediation financial questionnaire accomplishes “informal discovery”, a signed listing of ALL income and assets of a marriage with backup documentation and is signed under the “penalties of perjury”. If joint agreements are made by the couple on the basis of incomplete or erroneous information, fraud is being committed, with it’s penalties, and what would otherwise be a final division can be subject to court review. Mediation participants must believe and sign-off that they trust that all income and assets from the marriage have voluntarily been revealed and that in their decision-making about child support, alimony and division of property they have been fully financially informed.
What techniques does the negotiation collaborative use to address power/knowledge imbalances between a couple?
One of the most frequently encountered imbalances is when one of the parties has more knowledge of finances, tax ramifications, methods of valuation of assets, businesses, pensions. By referring the other spouse to experts in one or more of those areas, a “knowledge imbalance” may begin to be redressed. The advisory attorney, during mediation, may be a forceful advocate for and coach of a party whose power and knowledge need augmenting.
Does the cost of advisory/review attorneys increase the cost of mediation dramatically?
Review/advisory attorneys advocate for your understanding and achieving all the information you need, especially information about alimony and inheritance, and your individual review attorney ensures that the final divorce agreement reflects your own, as well as the families’ interests. Your review attorney will sign your pink 401 financial statement, and mark you up for a hearing date in court. We believe that the review/advisory attorney’s costs will not be dramatic and should be planned for as a systematic part of a thorough checks and balances mediation process.
Can a mediator go to court for the divorce hearing?
No. The parties, with the assistance of their advisory attorney, get “marked up” for a hearing date with a judge and then may go to court with attorney(s) or go by themselves, representing themselves “pro se” and signing their own Pink 401 financial statements.
Couples use the June. 15, 2018, Mass Child Support Guidelines in determining support for their children. It is assumed that both parents will contribute their earnings and that the guidelines are “presumptive”. That is, they will pertain to your situation unless:
- you have children who have special needs or aptitudes
- you have unusually low or high housing costs
- the children live with each of you approximately equal time
- you have joint incomes in excess of the guidelines
Couples decide when they reevaluate the Child Support Guidelines, perhaps every year, if their incomes or medical/dental insurance has changed. If a parent is not working or working full-time, and the children are old enough, s(he) may decide to do so to increase the total family income. Parents frequently decide that it is better, especially for young children to be guided by their parents and not nannies or babysitters.