How to Choose a Divorce Mediator in Massachusetts

How to Choose a Divorce Mediator in Massachusetts


Your goal is to choose a divorce attorney mediator who excels at the three things a mediator does:

  1. The mediator manages interpersonal relations and conflict;
  2. The attorney mediator communicates legal parameters and processes so clients can understand the issues they must address for their families and future; and
  3. The mediator educates clients on financial issues so they can make informed decisions that will be a basis of the eventual court ordered divorce decree.


How to Find the Best Boston Divorce Mediator: Interpersonal Skills and Empathy

The best Boston divorce mediators exhibit empathy and compassion and can manage conflictual interaction, acknowledging painful emotions. At the same time, the mediator helps a couple move forward, step-by-step with the practical, concrete decisions that are the basis of a separation agreement. In other words, the mediator needs excellent interpersonal and communication skills.

The best way to judge the empathy and your fit with a mediator is to have a brief, no-cost (Zoom) interaction with them. You and your spouse must do this together, so neither of you feels like the mediator “belongs to” the other spouse. If you and your spouse do not feel comfortable with the mediator, or the mediator does not readily share the ways they work with couples or other legal information that you are looking for, the mediator is probably not a good fit.

Choosing the Best Divorce Mediator Near Me in Massachusetts: Legal Knowledge


A divorce mediation lawyer is a broker between the legal system, with its archaic traditions and language, and normal people who simply want a) what is best for their children, b) fair financial outcomes, and c) a predictable and secure path forward to their post-divorce lives.

The mediator uses their knowledge of the law to gently guide the conversation in a way that puts clients’ needs first. An expert attorney mediator writes the separation agreement in a way that meets legal standards and is clearly understandable to both you and the judge. Finally, this family law expertise allows the mediator to advocate with the court for you and your decisions if a court clerk, for example, mistakenly rejects your court documents or asks for clarifications.

Even before you meet with the mediator, study their website. Do they readily share useful, user-friendly information and guidelines about child support or division of property or how uncontested divorce works?

When you call their office, do they answer your questions about divorce in ways that make sense to you and seem doable? Or do they communicate in a way that makes the legal parameters and process seem incomprehensible to a normal person?

Lawyers have traditionally presented the legal world as a mysterious one that you cannot understand. This empowers lawyers, but not you. Uncontested divorce can be clearly understood by the couples getting divorced, so your divorce mediator’s website should present all of this information to you clearly.

Choosing a Massachusetts Divorce Mediator: Financial Expertise and Client Education


A good mediator understands and can explain the financial dimensions of divorce, giving spouses a clear picture of their financial situation and the implications of different financial choices going forward. MA separation agreements have sections that focus on children and parenting, but otherwise focus overwhelmingly on financial issues and decisions. Divorce mediation is, in large part, financial mediation.

Your mediator should be able to display to you, in easily-understood numbers and charts:

  1. your total assets and debts, and
  2. the exact numbers and implications of any choices you make about support payments and division of property.


They should be able to display to you, in black and white numbers in real-time, the financial consequences of each scenario you discuss, e.g., “What if I kept the house, he kept his pension, and I kept the charge card debt?”

The mediator’s ability to present a financial overview and make clear the implications of each financial choice made by the couple is critical to creating a level playing field for making decisions about money. You cannot afford to use a relatively facilitative, passive divorce mediator who does not have financial expertise and experience or the skills to educate you about divorce finances. 

It is not uncommon for a relatively dominant spouse in mediation to insist, “You’re taking everything and leaving me nothing.” It is much more difficult for that dominant spouse to persist in that claim if the couple and mediator are gazing at a spreadsheet that shows the division of assets to be exactly equal or even favorable to the dominant spouse who is claiming they are getting nothing.

Such clearly displayed financial facts can also encourage a less assertive or less financially savvy spouse to advocate for themselves. Even if such a spouse is not good with numbers or finance, he or she can see that getting 45% of total marital assets while their spouse is getting 55% is not equitable.

Evaluating a Divorce Mediator’s Financial Expertise


Does the attorney mediator give useful financial information on their website? Do they explain division of marital property in ways that you can understand?

Do they have user-friendly calculators for child support, alimony, and the new combined support, Cavanagh calculations?

Do they show a clear understanding of pensions and retirement accounts and how they can be divided in divorce? Do they do QDROs for 401k and defined benefit plans themselves (which shows that they understand them deeply)?

When you call their office, do you get answers to your basic financial questions? If you ask how to divide a house that one of you owned before marriage, do they lay out in clear terms the ways divorcing couples can divide the value of such a house in a fair and equitable way?

If the mediator cannot communicate about the financial aspects of divorce in ways that make sense to you, you should choose a different mediator.