Mediation Lawyers in Hanover, MA Helping Clients Find Solutions
Mediation can be an invaluable tool for couples going through a divorce. It has many appealing qualities, such as the ability to maintain control over the outcomes vs. having a court decide what is best moving forward. Another appealing factor is that it can allow discussions to feel less formal, therefore keeping some of your most personal concerns out of a courtroom. In many cases, the cost of mediation is less than litigation, so coming to any agreements during mediation can save you time and money moving into the litigation phase of the divorce if it is still necessary to pursue. Mediation can also foster better communication between the parties, even in cases where a lack of communication was one of the determining factors in the decision to divorce in the first place. Relying on a trained, neutral third party to help guide you through the important issues regarding your divorce can help alleviate the stress that you may feel with so many details to consider. What happens with our children? What about alimony or child support? How do we split our assets? All of these are questions that mediation can help you to answer.
Contact O’Connor Family Law at 774-214-2137 to find out more regarding your specific questions about meditation and whether or not it is the best option for you.
When Can Mediation Occur?
Mediation can be started during any phase of the divorce, before or after filing. If both parties feel they can resolve the issues through mediation, they can initiate the process before filing. If after a divorce has been filed, and one or both parties want to contest issues, mediation can be helpful. Contested divorces become uncontested if and when an agreement is reached between both parties and can help save time in the divorce proceedings.
What Does the Mediation Process Look Like?
There are five stages in the mediation process. The first is introductions. This step allows for the mediator to learn more about both parties involved, their communication styles, and their priorities. You will typically be asked to fill out a questionnaire helping to further explain your goals, what you are not able to agree on, and what your specific desires are for the outcomes. The mediator introduces themselves and their role in this process, as well as discusses the goals and rules involved during mediation. They will also have each party sign a mediation contract at this time, as well as a confidentiality agreement before moving forward.
Joint discussions then commence while the mediator addresses each of the goals or topics. They are trained to give each of the parties ample time to address their concerns and discuss what they feel the best solutions are for their family and why. The experience of the mediator comes in during this step of the process in many ways, namely due to them having handled several situations and having ideas about how to proceed that the couple may not have thought of before. The mediator may have suggestions as to how to handle alimony, for instance, and what needs to be agreed upon before the couple can proceed. Better communication is almost always achieved during mediation as opposed to trying to handle these emotionally charged topics without a neutral third party involved. There is someone trained to help “drive the bus,” for lack of a better term, keeping the priorities of both parties top of mind and allowing each of the parties to fully express their thoughts and concerns in a controlled environmentwhile maintaining confidentiality.
During this process, private discussions can be requested at any time, either by one of the parties or the mediator themselves. Divorce is very personal, and some of the topics are best discussed without the other party listening, whether to avoid arguments or to keep other details confidential. The mediator can also take this time to address ideas of how to resolve items based on their experience, how to communicate more effectively once they regroup, and how to proceed.
Once an agreement is made on each of the topics involved, a Memorandum of Understanding is drafted. This document is not legally binding but is executed by both parties and the mediator with the understanding that it is now the basis for a formal contract during the next phases of the divorce proceedings.
What if it Doesn’t Work?
If an agreement is not reached by both parties, they have the option to continue mediation in another session. In some cases, several sessions are necessary; there are so many details involved, as well as emotions on either side. Sometimes time in between sessions will let cooler heads prevail, or different perspectives emerge, and that can make the difference. Whatever agreements are made, however small they may be, they can still be regarded as successful in untangling aspects of the divorce and can also help reduce the amount of time spent in the courtroom. Even without complete resolution, most couples find the mediation process to be helpful as they have a better understanding of the other parties’ priorities or views on each of the topics discussed.
At O’Connor Family Law, we have several years of experience in dealing with mediation. We understand that these topics are almost always difficult and complex, and we are here to assist you in reaching an agreement that is best for you as you move on to the next phase of your divorce. If you feel that mediation may be a good fit for you, please don’t hesitate to call us at 774-214-2137 to discuss the next steps with one of our trusted team members.