Family Law Mediation in Massachusetts

Family Law Mediation in Massachusetts


Family mediation is a process in which family members use a neutral third party—a family law mediator—to help them discuss and resolve conflicts and make decisions that allow them to move forward in their lives. Family mediation is a broad category, which can include mediation of legal issues, such as divorce mediation, as well as mediation for issues that are not strictly legal, such as how to care for and support elderly family members.


Family law mediation focuses on family issues that necessarily involve the legal system, such as divorce, adoption, pre-marital agreements, and disputed wills and inheritances.


Regardless of whether the family issue is strictly legal or not, the hallmark of mediation is the facilitation of focused discussions by the mediator. The mediator does not make decisions for the parties or favor one side or the other.


Unlike family therapy, which deals with family emotions and relationships more generally, family mediation is more narrowly focused, with the goal of reaching an actionable resolution to a particular problem or dispute. The mediator keeps the conversations focused, makes sure all parties feel heard, and helps the parties reach a resolution that works for both of them. Because the parties play the central role in creating the agreement, family mediation encourages outcomes that are tailored to the distinctive needs and preferences of each family.


I am a family law mediator with a practice that specializes 100% in family divorce mediation.


Because I specialize, I am unusually efficient in helping couples reach mutually satisfactory agreements on all issues related to divorce. This efficiency allows me to charge affordable flat fees and to help you see your path forward in life very quickly.


My experience—over 1600 cases successfully mediated—gives me insight into ways to help couples move forward and has helped me to streamline the process. If you choose me as your divorce mediator, I will send you a draft of all court documents, including the “separation agreement”, within a day of our first meeting. Getting divorced creates enormous uncertainty in lives. Getting a draft of the whole package within a day of meeting with me relieves your uncertainty. You will immediately see what the practical aspects of your new life can look like and can begin taking steps down that new path.


Call me at 413-253-7484 to learn more about how family mediation for divorce can save you time, money, and stress.



How to Choose a Family Mediator for Divorce



In choosing a family law mediator for divorce, you must first consider what effective divorce mediators do.


They must manage emotions and make sure both parties’ concerns are heard and understood.


They must educate the couple about the legal parameters of divorce and the many, specific issues that must be decided and then recorded in the separation agreement.


They must take a couple’s financial situation and show the couple, in clear terms, how a court might view their assets, debts, and income, so that the couple make decisions that can be approved by a judge.


To determine if they can manage difficult conversations, discuss your case with them and see if you feel comfortable with them.


In terms of legal parameters of divorce, do they specialize in family law? Can they answer your questions about divorce in clear and informative ways?


Describe your financial situation to them, and see if they are confident and comfortable in dealing with numbers and can explain to you basic concepts like house equity and how child support calculations work. Do they understand how retirement accounts can be divided in divorce?



Do I need a lawyer for family mediation?



If your family issue involves the legal system—which many do—you should hire a family lawyer who specialized in mediation. For divorce mediation, you should definitely hire a lawyer who is an expert in family law.


Divorce is governed by state laws that are highly specific and, at times, seemingly arbitrary. Only a mediator who is intimately familiar with legal parameters for divorce in your state can guide your conversations and decision-making processes in ways that will address the issues that must be addressed in your state.


Your lawyer mediator can then draft all the legal papers, containing your decisions, for filing with the court.


Even beyond divorce, there are many family issues that interface with the legal system:


  1. Parenting Disputes: Family mediators can assist in resolving conflicts related to child custody, visitation schedules, and parenting plans, often in cases involving unmarried parents or custody modifications.
  2. Elder Care and Inheritance Issues: Mediators can help families navigate disputes related to the care and support of elderly family members, as well as inheritance and estate planning conflicts.
  3. Sibling or Family Business Disputes: Family mediators may facilitate discussions and agreements in cases where siblings or family members are involved in disputes related to family-owned businesses, inheritance of assets, or decision-making within the business.
  4. Guardianship and Adoption Matters: Mediators can assist in the selection of guardians for minors or help with adoption-related issues, ensuring that the best interests of the child are taken into account.
  5. Family Property and Estate Distribution: Mediators can help families divide assets or resolve conflicts related to the distribution of property, especially in cases where there are disputes among heirs or beneficiaries.
  6. Pre-marital or Post-marital Agreements: While not divorce-related, family mediators can help couples create prenuptial or postnuptial agreements that address financial and property matters in the event of a separation or divorce in the future.


In Massachusetts, there is no regulation or licensing for mediators in private practice, so if someone is just a mediator, you do not know if they have any credentials. In contrast, lawyers much pass a bar exam and be licensed members of the state bar in order to practice as lawyers. This ensures at least some credentials.



Family Mediation vs. Other Conflict Resolution Methods



Comparing Family Mediation and Litigation


  • Family mediation provides a cooperative and confidential setting for resolving disputes, allowing parties to maintain control over the outcome.
  • In contrast, litigation involves a formal court process where a judge—a “stranger wearing black robes” –makes decisions about your family, resulting in loss of control for the individuals involved.
  • Mediation encourages open communication and dialogue, fostering a more positive and amicable environment.
  • Litigation, on the other hand, often escalates conflicts and can strain relationships between family members.
  • Mediation is typically less time-consuming and costly compared to litigation, offering a quicker and more affordable resolution option.
  • Furthermore, mediation allows for flexibility in finding creative solutions that meet the unique needs and interests of all parties involved.


When considering the most suitable approach for divorcing and resolving family disputes, it is important to weigh the benefits of mediation against the drawbacks of litigation.



The Differences Between Family Mediation and Arbitration


Mediation and arbitration are both alternative dispute resolution methods used in family disputes. However, they differ in several key aspects.


Mediation involves a neutral third party who helps facilitate communication and negotiation between the parties. The mediator does not make decisions but guides the parties towards reaching a mutually acceptable agreement. This process allows for greater control, flexibility, and a focus on preserving relationships.


Arbitration, on the other hand, involves a third party who acts as a quasi-judge and makes a binding decision based on the evidence presented. This approach provides a more structured and formalized process, resembling a court setting.


While mediation promotes active participation and empowers the parties to shape the resolution, arbitration relinquishes decision-making authority to the arbitrator. Understanding these differences can help individuals choose the most suitable approach for their specific family conflict.