Family Law & Mediation

Family and Divorce Mediation

“Mediation, to the greatest extent possible is non-adversarial.” ~Attorney Lisa S. Carlson

Advantages of Divorce Mediation

flat fee family mediation

Divorce mediation is cost effective. 
Our firm charges a flat fee for up to five (5) one-hour sessions with the mediator. Homework assignments are assigned to the parties. It is not necessary or required for the parties to have attorneys in order to participate in mediation. This translates to more money saved in the long run by reaching an agreement and then you always have the option to choose and hire a private attorney to review your agreement before it is submitted to the court for approval.

Divorce mediation is efficient.
By going to mediation constant trips to court for several hearings, status conferences, pre-trial conferences and more are avoided. The process is organized and guided by the mediator, and it moves quickly and efficiently, generally in only four (4) or five (5) sessions total.

Divorce mediation puts the parties in control.
By mediating your divorce you and your soon to be ex-partner are in control of the decisions, not the court.

flat fee family mediationDivorce mediation protects your children and family.
This process avoids a long, drawn-out and very public court battle which in most situations causes irreparable devastation to the entire family unit.

Divorce mediation allows for the parties to be creative.
This includes parenting plans to address custody arrangements, parenting time and fallback arrangements or agreements designed to keep the parties from constantly returning to court.

Divorce mediation can happen at any time during the divorce process.
Even if one of the parties has already filed for divorce, it’s still possible and often a good option to engage in mediation to resolve issues and reach an agreement that is then presented to the court for approval.

Divorce mediation plans for now, and the future. 
It allows the parties to anticipate and plan for current and future obligations, unique to each family situation. Family and finances are sacred. Mediation keeps these issues in your control and not in the uncertainty of a judge’s decision.

Divorce mediation is confidential.
Any meetings and conversations you have with the mediator stay with the mediator. Meetings and conversations are protected and the mediator, including the mediator’s notes cannot be brought into court or used in any litigation even by subpoena.

Divorce mediation is private.
The divorce mediation process allows for private, full financial disclosure (other than the filing of your financial statements) which are prepared with guidance and assistance of the mediator. All financial information is kept confidential between the parties and is not discussed in open court, including the presence of the general public.

Mediation for Unmarried Parents

Many times, children are born into a family where the parents are not married. What happens to the family if this family becomes divided and the parents are no longer in a courtship or relationship.  Unmarried parents have very similar rights to those of married parents in that arrangements regarding child custody and child support still needs to be put in place for the benefit of the children.  Mediation can help.

By using the mediation process, unwed couples can reap many of the same benefits as those that are going through a divorce.  Once the Mediation is complete and an Agreement is reached, the mediator will assist the parties in the filing of a Complaint for Support, Custody and Parenting Time; the Agreement; each of the parties Financial Statements; and Child Support Guidelines.

Grandparents Visitation Rights

One of the most common topics in family and divorce mediation is whether grandparents have legal visitation rights when it comes to seeing their grandchildren. Only in certain circumstances, and even then, it will be up to a Judge to make that determination.

The Massachusetts statute, M.G.L. c. 119 § 39D, addresses visitation rights to certain grandparents of unmarried minor children; The statute states in part that ‘grandparents of such minor child MAY be granted reasonable visitation rights to the minor child during his/her minority by the probate and family court department of the trial court upon written findings that such visitation rights would be in the best interest of the said minor child’.

An Order for Grandparent Visitation must not be confused with the Guardianship of a minor child.  There is a significant difference between visitation with a minor child and guardianship. In guardianship, the grandparent(s) become the child’s custodian and is raising the child.

An Order for Grandparent Visitation Requires Certain Criteria Be Met

  1. The parents of the minor child must be divorced, married but living apart, either or both parents are deceased, or if the unmarried minor child was born out of wedlock and the question of paternity has been established.
  2. The visitation must be in the best interest of the child, which means that even if one or both of the parents do not feel that the grandparent should have visitation, the Court can make a determination that the visitation is what is best for the child.

When couples separate and/or divorce there is often a strain on the grandparents ability to continue their relationships with their grandchildren.  Often when grandparents seek an order for visitation, they must prove to the court that there previously existed such a relationship with the minor child, that deprivation of the relationship would be detrimental to the child and that continuation of the relationship is in the best interest of the child.

For more information and helpful reading on this topic, the primary case that has supported the Statute is Blixt v. Blixt 437 Mass. 649, 2002.

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