The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court recently issued an opinion on whether a lawyer, disciplined and disqualified from practicing law, may serve as a mediator. While the court recognized that generally mediation is not considered practicing law, it did suggest several circumstances where a lawyer may be prohibited from acting as a mediator, due to bar discipline.
The Court articulated the following factors, “(1) whether the type of work is customarily performed by lawyers as part of their legal practice; (2) whether the work was performed by the lawyer prior to suspension, disbarment, or resignation for misconduct; (3) whether, following suspension, disbarment, or resignation for misconduct, the lawyer has performed or seeks leave to perform the work in the same office or community, or for other lawyers; and (4) whether the work as performed by the lawyer invokes the lawyer’s professional judgment in applying legal principles to address the individual needs of clients.”
While this may be an extreme example, not all mediators are alike. Experience counts! Take the time to interview several mediators to find the right fit for you. Call our case manager, Yvonne, at 508 795 0200. She will explain the mediation process and match you with one of our qualified and experienced divorce and family law mediators. At Parker Mediation, you have choices. Call us today to get started, 508 795 0200.
Sometimes people can “get stuck” in the divorce process. This can occur when one or both parties take a stand and become as seemingly immovable as a mountain. When people take positions, they often fail to see solutions to the problems. Focusing only on one possibility can lead to an impasse. Communication may break down, harsh words may be exchanged, and the parties may become frustrated and drift even further apart. An experienced mediator guides folks to understand the Zen Buddhist idea captured by Donovan in the song, “There is a Mountain.”
First there is a mountain, then there is no mountain, then there is.
From my own experience climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro last summer, I attest to the truth of this statement. Walking for days on the African plains, creeping toward the great monadnock affectionately nicknamed “Kili”, I understood. Mount Kilimanjaro was big, really large, even enormous. I was not, however, paralyzed with fear; I proceeded and yielded to the task. As I climbed the looming mountain, with each small step, it disappeared beneath my feet. Finally, when I reached the summit, I was as light as the air.
The practice of teaching clients to see beyond the mountain, to explore alternatives to the principles they cling too, to get past the positions they are stuck on, is artful mediation. When the mediator is mindful of potential situational deadlock, tactics may be used to avoid a destructive phase where communication deteriorates and progress is halted. An experienced divorce mediator shares professional and personal insight with clients, permitting change and creating an atmosphere where solutions are made. At times this may be subtle, but may also be more of a metamorphosis, where understanding and collaboration promote change.
First there is a mountain, then there is no mountain, then there is.
The song continues, “The caterpillar sheds his skin to find a butterfly within.” Mindful mediation can help people give up the old ways and find a new, fresh, perhaps even better life. An experienced, professional mediator can help.
If you wish to learn how you can keep control of your divorce, call our divorce mediation case manager, Yvonne, she’ll get you started in your new life.
Call us at 508 795 0200.
The Implementation of the MASSACHUSETTS UNIFORM PROBATE CODE (“MUPC”) is effective as of March 31, 2012 in the Worcester County Probate Court. If you recently lost a family member or loved one and need to probate the estate, please use the new format. New forms for the probate of estates are available on Mass.gov and on the new Worcester County Probate Court Web site. If you have questions or need assistance feel free to contact us at 508.795.0200. You can do this, we can help.
Parker Mediation is dedicated to serving our clients with the best experience through troubled times. Our experienced divorce mediators help parties move away from positional bargaining and towards ideas that serve the interests of our clients. Cooperative explorations help people avoid impasses and obtain individualized and unique solutions. Our mediators defuse difficult situations that may have occurred when prior tactics failed.
How mediators help people is part skill, part art and part intuition. We understand that divorce can bring about negative feelings, poor behaviors and even irrational thinking. Our divorce mediators are specially trained to help you through aggressive adversarial tactics, insulting offers and bad faith proposals. We do this by exploring the realities and consequences of many different choices. Fear often drives people to act in unflattering ways. By taking control of your divorce, fear is reduced, rational thinking prevails and good decisions are made.
To learn more about divorce mediation and to schedule time with one of our mediators, call Yvonne at 508.795.0200. She’ll answer any additional questions and explain how to get started.
Valentine’s Day may be bitter sweet if you are struggling in a broken marriage. Do not despair, you can take charge of your future. Have a heart to heart talk with your spouse. Change may be difficult, but sometimes change is for the best. At Parker Mediation we help couples get through divorce with the least amount of pain possible. Next year will be better, you’ll see. Call 508.795.0200.
New Year’s Resolutions!
Don’t worry if you already failed to follow through on your New Year Resolutions, you can start fresh with the Year of the Red Dragon. That means good luck for you! Each New Year brings an opportunity to reflect on the past and to design the future. Resolve to make 2012 a great year. Take the steps to make the changes you need in your life. While we often resist change, go ahead, it will be ok.
Top Ten Resolutions:
#10 Get Organized!
Clean your desk, organize your papers, and collect your year-end documents so they will be ready for tax season. If you plan to divorce this year, these documents will assist you to analyze your financial situation. Also, you’ll be prepared to make full financial disclosure as part of the mediation process. You, your spouse and your divorce mediator will utilize the information to create a sustainable plan for the future.
Help others in need; it will make you realize that things aren’t so bad after all. Going through a divorce can be difficult. You may feel depressed and isolated. By volunteering, you will meet new people and feel good about yourself.
#8 Try Something New!
When was the last time you tried something for the first time? Learning something new helps stimulate the brain and keeps you young. If you are going through a divorce, your life is going to be different. Why not take the opportunity to do something you always wanted to try.
#7 Get Rid of Debt!
Live well, but within your means. Cut back on spending now to realize savings in the future. Divorce is usually a challenge financially. You can save a load of money using divorce mediation. The cost for divorce mediation is typically many thousands of dollars less than traditional litigation.
#6 Stop Smoking!
Really, just stop! If you need help, get it. There are lots of techniques to quit smoking. Herbs such as Lobelia and Oat Straw are just one of the many supportive therapies available to stop smoking. Need a reward? Just think how much money you will save.
#5 Get Fit!
Sounds easy, but it’s not. Getting fit and staying fit takes time. Start with a walk, then increase the time and distance. Change your routine, experiment and find things you like to do. Make a fitness date with a friend. Getting motivated and following through is easier when you do it together. Have fun and don’t get discouraged.
#4 Eat Healthy!
Eat your fruit and vegetables. Listen to your mother!
#3 Lose Weight
The stress of divorce can lead to unwanted pounds. Don’t sit around feeling sorry for yourself eating cookies and ice cream. Let’s face it, you will feel better if you eat properly and exercise. Dropping a few pounds will not only make you feel better, you’ll look better. This could come in real handy post-divorce.
#2 Spend Time with Friends!
If you are used to being a couple, it may feel awkward getting out with friends. Just do it! How else are you going to meet new people? Socializing will help you get a glimpse of the future while navigating through the transition period.
#1 Joie de vivre!
Ok, so things didn’t turn out the way you expected. Life isn’t predictable, but it is worth living and you know how to give your best. Go ahead, enjoy yourself! You deserve to be happy.
How is Alimony determined in Massachusetts?
The Alimony Reform Act of 2011, Massachusetts General Laws §§48-55, provides new guidelines for alimony in Massachusetts. The new alimony law goes in to effect March 1, 2012. The Act provides guidelines for alimony amount and duration. The new law will promote consistency in alimony orders and flexibility in the types of alimony ordered, while reserving judicial discretion for special circumstances.
Under the Alimony Reform Act of 2011, there are several types of alimony: General Alimony, Rehabilitative Alimony, Reimbursement Alimony and Transitional Alimony. The new alimony guidelines create a structure for determinations of alimony. The various types of alimony provide for increased flexibility in making alimony orders, while specific guidelines promote consistency in alimony orders. And because there are always special circumstances the New Alimony Act preserves judicial discretion in creating fair and equitable alimony orders.
Contact an experienced divorce attorney mediator to learn how the Alimony Reform Act of 2011 may affect you. If you are contemplating divorce, if you are currently receiving alimony, if you are paying alimony, or if you are a stay-at-home parent, you need to understand the impact of the new alimony laws. Contact us at 508 795 0200 to learn more.
Joint Petition for Modification
A Joint Petition and Affidavit for Modification of Judgment soon will be available for use in The Probate & Family Court. This will be a welcome tool for folks utilizing mediation services. Parties will be able to mediate modification agreements and then file them with the court using a Joint Petition. The proposed Rule 412 will facilitate uncontested actions to modify judgments. The filing may be approved by the Court administratively. That means you won’t have to go to court, unless the court determines that a hearing is necessary or helpful for disposition of the petition.
The Massachusetts Probate & Family Court is planning to permit folks to file a Joint Petition for Modification of Judgment. Parties that wish to file a joint petition will file a signed and notarized agreement, accompanied with an affidavit. In matters involving changes to financial terms, the parties will also file financial statements and/or child support guidelines worksheets. This new process will save time, money and relieve the long lines in the Probate & Family Court. Unless the court schedules a hearing, you will have your decision in fourteen days.
This is a welcome tool to assist families that want to make changes to their divorce agreements. Filing a Joint Petition for Modification of Judgment will be less costly than going through a traditional process of filing a Complaint for Modification. Using mediation to discuss proposed changes to parenting plans, Alimony and child support, will keep open lines of communication. You stay in control of the process and avoid litigation. The divorce mediators at Parker Mediation will facilitate the process to modify your judgment. We keep it simple and confidential; call us today at 508 795 0200 to take the next steps.
Parker Mediation is accepting gifts suitable for middle and high school aged children. Donations may be made at our Worcester offices through
December 21. All gifts will be delivered to local teens in need of a little joy this holiday season. Please drop by anytime Monday through Friday 9AM-5PM to drop off your gifts.
Your generosity will be greatly appreciated. Adolescents and children in the juvenile justice system or in foster care need your support.
This age group is often neglected during the holidays, partly because teens are hard to buy for! Some great ideas for teens are gift cards, sweat shirts, phone accessories, hair products, nail polish, alarm clocks, cameras, sunglasses, hats, scarves, gloves, bean bags, snow goggles, earrings, T-shirts, picture frames, jewelry holders, flash drives, flip camera, hoodies, art supplies, or maybe some ear buds. Check out these earmuff headphones! Happy Holidays and happy shopping!
Lori Caravalho is the newest member to join the team at Parker Mediation. She previously served as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (“CASA”) in Worcester County, Massachusetts. At CASA, she became a supervisor and trainer before moving on to other mediation work with families and children. Lori provided Permanency Mediation services for Children’s Services of Roxbury, Inc., Massachusetts Families for Kids (“MFFK”). She is a talented and experienced mediator.
Lori Caravalho earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Worcester State University. She is a Court Investigator for the Worcester County Juvenile Court and has years of experience working within the court systems. Her experience working with families in transition enables her to guide folks through the divorce mediation process with ease. If you would like to schedule a free consultation with Lori or learn more about divorce mediation, call us today at 508 795 0200.
This week Gov. Deval Patrick signed the Alimony Reform Act of 2011. The provisions of the new law take effect on March 1, 2012. The mathematical algorithm for determining alimony is fairly complex, but the new alimony law generally reduces the duration of time alimony payments will occur following divorce. Anyone considering divorce should be aware of the changes and plan accordingly.
Folks that are currently receiving or paying alimony will want to review options created by the new law reforming alimony in Massachusetts. In many cases parties will want to seek a complaint for modification because the existing alimony judgment exceeds the durational limits set forth in the new law. A set schedule establishes the transition period for the filing of these types of complaints.
Payors who were married to the alimony recipient 5 years or less, may file a modification action on or after March 1, 2013. Payors who were married to the alimony recipient 10 years or less, but more than 5 years, may file a modification action on or after March 1, 2014. Payors who were married to the alimony recipient 15 years or less, but more than 10 years, may file a modification action on or after March 1, 2015. Payors who were married to the alimony recipient 20 years or less, but more than 15 years, may file a modification action on or after September 1, 2015. Also, any payor who is eligible for the full old-age benefit under the United States Old Age, Disability, and Survivor Insurance Act, 42 U.S.C. 416, or who will become eligible for said benefit on or before March 1, 2015 may file a complaint for modification on or after March 1, 2013.
The transition period provides the opportunity for people to plan accordingly. If you and your ex-spouse plan ahead and communicate openly, the topic of alimony will be easier to handle. If you are facing changes as a result of the Alimony Reform Act of 2011 and would like to mediate rather than go to court, feel free to contact us at Parker Mediation 508 795 0200 to schedule a free consultation.
It happens. Not all mediations are successful. Mediation can be terminated, suspended or postponed. Some couples are just not ready to work together or don’t have the necessary trust level between them. Sometimes a party feels he or she is “giving up” too much. If one or both parties are too interested in “victory” or revenge, divorce becomes a zero-sum game where one party’s gain comes at the expense of the other party. Children suffer terribly in these cases, watching their parents fight it out. These divorces are extremely expensive as they drag on, hearing after hearing, and they leave scars and resentments that may never go away.
Sometimes, a couple cannot seem to agree on one or more topics. The mediator will encourage full discussion about the underlying emotions or reasons for the disagreement. He or she may provide suggestions for alternative approaches to the problem, or ask the parties to imagine themselves in the other party’s position. In some cases, there can be a trade off on a separate issue that is satisfactory to both parties. Disputing parties will be reminded that almost any solution they construct will be better than asking a judge to decide the issue for them.
The couple meets together with a trained, neutral mediator, preferably an attorney familiar with the divorce process. With the help of the mediator, the couple identifies the issues that must be addressed and resolved in order to get the court’s approval for a divorce. These issues may include division or disposition of the marital home, division of personal assets and liabilities, as well as issue related to the children of the marriage. We explore and discuss these issues over a number of 1-2 hour sessions in the mediator’s office. Many people find it easier to be candid about their feelings about an issue in such a neutral setting.