How Does Divorce Mediation Work in Massachusetts?
Mediation is gaining popularity. In the last 7 or 8 years in Massachusetts, it has become more and more common. I became certified as a mediator in the early 90s and have been doing it consistently since then. Mediation is suitable for some cases but not all cases. There are advantages and disadvantages to mediation. The obvious advantages are a less hostile setting. While I don’t see courts as a necessarily hostile place, some people do see them as a hostile place. What happens is the mediation occurs in my office in a friendly environment. The participants feel that it’s a much more open discussion that they can have than in a courthouse corridor. The advantage of mediation is it’s a lot less formal than going to court. The other advantage is the terms that you agreed to will be totally within your control. Sometimes a judge in a judgment will rule on an item that you don’t necessarily agree with. The other advantage to mediation is that it’s much more cost-effective than each party hiring a lawyer to go to court. The disadvantages of mediation are sometimes the weaker party loses, and by weaker party, I mean someone that isn’t quite in the know about finances, or the budget to run the household. They could agree to something that would not necessarily be in their best interest. As their mediator, I cannot point that out because I would be giving legal advice and one of the tenets of being a mediator is that you can’t give legal advice to either party. If the parties agree, that might become a term of the agreement, even though it might favor one party over the other. The court still has to find that the agreements are fair and reasonable. Typically, if the parties have agreed to the terms of an agreement, then the court will find that the agreement is fair and reasonable. A disadvantage of mediation is that sometimes the weaker party doesn’t know everything they need to know. In mediation you essentially have to rely upon the information provided to you by the other party.
This informational blog post was brought to you by Cynthia L. Hanley, an experienced Mansfield, Massachusetts Divorce Lawyer.