There’s No Need to Rush

One of the great perks of working through a conflict using the tools of mediation is the ability to take a break.

When the subject matter gets tough and the emotions run high, mediation allows for an intermission. Quite literally, we will in the middle (“inter”) of the process (“mission” = resolving the conflict) take a step away. Sometimes it is a five-minute break during a session; other times it’s a few weeks away from the mediation room.

Unlike litigating a conflict, where there are court calendars to which the parties are beholden, mediation works on the schedule of the clients.

It is just one more way that mediation fits the client, not the mediators’ calendar.

If you have the goal of resolving your conflict, but don’t want to rush to a remedy, call us. We’re in no rush either.


Jenna 978.760.0482 or Rob 978.479.2923

Looks Can Be Deceiving

When parties opt to litigate their divorce, that is, when parties use the adversarial court system, they will invariably be asking a judge to make certain decisions for them. Generally, those judicial decisions are borne of a failure of the parties to make their own decisions themselves. Litigation exhaustion and the incentive a party might have to get his/her “way” factor into why some people would rather leave the choice up to a stranger in a long, black robe rather than trying to collaborate and compromise.


But no matter how nice a judge may look, like this handsome guy, that person is a total stranger to the parties.

judge HM blog

Judges do not have the luxury of time and, I would suggest that, they do not have any real interest in getting to know the parties so intimately that they can come to the “best” decision. This is not to say that the result can’t be “fair.” However, when parties hand over their agency to make self-guided decisions, they expose themselves to the greatest inherent flaw in the judicial system: not having all the information.

The people who do have all the information are the parties. And when those two people enter into mediation, they are the ones to decide, they are the ones with the autonomy, they are the ones with the ultimate authority to govern the result.

Mediation is the place where empowerment is not only found but also encouraged. At Holistic Mediation, we honor this reality, which, in and of itself, is a luxury that only the parties have.

To learn more about how you can find resolution in the midst of conflict using all  the information, please reach out to Rob Brownson LMHC, at 978.479.2923 or to Jenna Brownson, Esq. at 978.760.0482.





Distrust is Going to Cost You

One of the many benefits of opting to pursue divorce through mediation rather than litigation is the cost savings. It is simply less expensive to pay for a series of mediation sessions and the drafting of the separation agreement than it is to hire two attorneys to go in and out of court, hold court-mandated meetings, negotiate the terms of the eventual separation agreement, and then work through multiple drafts to come to final terms. Oh, and then go back to court again to have the judge approve of the work. The foregoing description is of a couple that manages to find agreement. If the divorce goes to trial, the costs go up exponentially.

Ask around. If you know someone who retained a divorce lawyer, what was the initial retainer? How many replenishing retainers were required? What was the final cost? If you can find someone who ended up going through a full-blown trial, see if you can get that person to admit how much money was forked over. Keep in mind that person’s number should probably be multiplied by two as there were two parties using two law firms.

I cannot confidently say that mediation is always less expensive, but I’m willing to bet that it is 99% of the time. So why, if there’s a cheaper and equally legitimate option for divorcing couples, would people go the “litigation route?”

Because of trust.

Mediation requires full disclosure of all financial interests. Plain and simple. While some mediators are lawyers, they are not permitted–when acting as mediators–to use the “power of subpoena” to get to the parties’ bank accounts, retirement assets, stock portfolios, etc. When people come to mediation, they agree to put that all out on the table.

My co-mediator and I have seen, time and time again, suspicion and sideways glances that lead us to wonder whether full disclosure is happening. Moreover, when one of the two people state something like “it’s impossible to trust” that everything is being disclosed, mediation can fall apart.

For many people–short of choosing whom to marry–divorce is the most consequential financial move they’ll ever make. In order to use mediation, trust is essential. A promise to work in good faith cannot be forced upon a soon-to-be-divorced person.

At Holistic Mediation, we are honored to help people get from “unhappily married” to “civilly divorced.” We employ our professional skills to have this happen thoroughly and concisely. If either party cannot trust the other, the mediators cannot produce the required trusting environment. As much as we endorse the non-adversarial process of mediation, it is not for everyone. No need to despair though, there are lots of lawyers happy to help you through a litigated divorce, but it’ll cost you.



Coming Up with a Plan

Over the years, my co-mediator and I have noticed that for most parents who are divorcing the task of coming up with a parenting plan is not the most difficult piece of a typical divorce mediation.

When Rob and I discussed why this was the case, we reflected on our mediations and came up with a general conclusion:

When two parents are asked what is in their children’s best interests, the parents–as experts of their own children–are in the unique (aka the best) position to assess what “best” should like with respect to their children.

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One of the benefits of mediation is the couples’ ability to dig deep and take the time to make thoughtful and evidence-based decisions. Unlike the hallways of family court where there is the pressure to “hurry up and compromise before the judge gets back on the bench,” a couple who uses mediation has the leeway to come to terms on their own terms.

If you’re thinking about mediation, consider reaching out to Holistic Mediation to meet Rob and myself to see if our approach would suit your goals.


Jenna can be reached at 978.760.0482

Rob can be reached at 978.479.2923



Co-Mediation is Hard to Find Despite its Value

vennIn co-mediation sessions, the clients get a double benefit through their access to two different skill sets brought by Rob and Jenna.

As an attorney, Jenna addresses the legal, logistical, and analytical aspects of conflict; as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Rob hones in on the relational and trauma-based aspects of people in dispute.

While Jenna is an attorney, and Rob a consulting psychotherapist, we do not represent mediation clients as an attorney, nor offer clinical explanations that underlie any disagreement. During the family mediation process, Jenna will share legal information but is precluded by ethical rules to give legal advice. Rob, through his years of experience working with conflict circumstances provides insightful direction in getting at the core of the areas of dispute.

This two-skill-set model offers to all clients a much richer experience in the crafting of legitimate and personally meaningful resolutions.

As the facilitators, Rob and Jenna promote discussion and negotiation that allows the conflicting participants the opportunity to exchange divergent views, ask questions, discuss difficult topics and find solutions. As co-mediators, they assume the role of neutral, third-party observers, assisting the participants to explore and find collaborated solutions. What generally results is the creation of a sound, mutually-acceptable agreement to address the parties’ particular circumstances.

Please contact us at 978.760.0482 (Jenna) or 978.479.2923 (Rob) to begin discussing how co-mediation can work for you.

When Chewing Glass is More Appealing

We get it: coming to agreements with someone you have come to _________ (distrust, despise, question, worry over, feel suspicious of, and/or wonder how you ever fell in love with years ago) can be a lot to ask. This is especially so if you find yourself feeling responsible for the house and the kids and the grocery shopping and the paycheck.

We’ve seen it: people who just want it to be over–yesterday, people who carry resentment and contempt rooted in betrayal and anger, people who are so fragile they feel like the slightest change could crush them, and people who are simply exhausted from trying.

When given the choice, many would choose a mouthful of glass over trying to come to terms on important matters in a mediation.

Why? Because it’s hard and because no one goes into marriage thinking: “You know, some day when we get divorced, I know we’ll be super kind and compassionate to each other so the process is just as rewarding as registering for this lovely, agreed-upon china pattern.”

We know.

And because we get it, we give you room to speak your peace before rushing to resolution

And because we’ve seen it, we know that everyone’s process unfolds at their rate and particular to them.

And, because we know, we offer kindness and compassion.

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Is It Time to Hit the Road?

Many people who find themselves facing a choice between staying in a failed marriage and moving toward divorce feel paralyzed by taking that first step. That “first step” often takes the form of admitting the failure to their spouse after having lived with the internal feeling for some amount of time. Having that first discussion–or debate–over the conclusions drawn about the decline of the marriage can take years. The pressure people feel to stay together “for better or for worse” can lead otherwise rational and thoughtful people to remain in a relationship that no longer serves either participant.

It has been said that “a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” The quote is attributed to Lao Tzu who actually said something about a “1,000 li journey.” A li is an ancient Chinese measurement equivalent to 360 miles. Through sloppy translation, we got “a journey of 1,000 miles,” even though a fair translation would be “a journey of 360,000 miles begins with a single step.” Not quite as catchy, and quite a bit longer a trip.

Image result for a journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step

While this quote was originally meant to convey the notion that great things start from humble beginnings, we at Holistic Mediation know that this axiom can also be applied to taking that first step toward a new chapter in one’s life. Although there is humility in the admission of failure, there is also the start of an unknown, albeit potentially great thing.

If you think that you’d like to move in a new direction, please call Jenna Brownson, Esq. at 978.760.0482 or Rob Brownson, LMHC at 978.479.2923.

Why Mediation? Part 3 of 3

Mediation saves time. Lots of it.

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When parties opt to mediate instead of litigate, the parties decide how the process will move forward and at what rate. Litigation of an average divorce can take eighteen months to two years because when you ask for the court to be the arbiter of your decisions that court also gets to put you on its schedule. And in case you’ve never been to court, it’s a slow moving behemoth of red tape and paperwork and “hurry up and wait.”

Mediation goes at your pace. You want to be done in a short time? We’ll work with you. You need to pace yourself? Great, we’ll be sure to accommodate that.

If you’re looking to have control of your calendar, then mediation is a much more attractive choice to litigation.

Contact Jenna at 978.760.0482 or Rob at 978.479.2923 to schedule a complimentary half-hour consultation.

Why Mediation? Part 2 of 3

One of the biggest complaints I’ve heard from people who have litigated their divorces or gone to court over custody and/or visitation issues is the total lack of privacy.

In addition to inviting lawyers into the controversy with the parties’ choice to litigate the matter, all sorts of folks get to hear about the why and how and when the problems between the parties began.

All sorts of court personnel get a glimpse into what happened during the marriage that led to the irretrievable breakdown.

All sort of complete strangers are witness to the blaming and finger-pointing which are inevitable components of the “adversarial” system that pits Party #1 versus Party #1.

Image result for family court

Bear in mind that Party #1 and Party #2 are by and large two people who once loved each other and likely had children together. Now they’re standing in court–center stage–for the “entertainment” of people who can never exactly “know” the details, but can only pass quick judgment on the unfolding scene.

Mediation is different. It is a place that respects privacy.

When people come to our office to collaborate toward a client-created solution, it’s them and us in the room: (usually) two parties and two co-mediators. You might be pleased to learn that the two co-mediators, i.e., Rob and myself, are duty-bound to confidentiality at all times and neither one of us could ever be subpoenaed to court as we are protected from testifying by statute. These realities lend another layer of privacy to the parties.

For those wishing to keep their domestic lives and personal matters private from apathetic, though critical strangers, mediation is always a better choice over litigation.