Why is it all so costly?

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. (Side note: 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.

I have seen, time and time again, suspicion and sideways glances that lead me 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, I’m honored to help people get from “unhappily married” to “civilly divorced.” I employ my professional skills to have this happen thoroughly and concisely. If either party cannot trust the other, a mediator cannot produce the required trusting environment. As much as I 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.

Working Together for the Good of the Children

Over the years, 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 I’ve wondered why this was the case, I reflected on my mediations and came up with a general conclusion:

When two parents are asked what is in their children’s best interests, the parents, AKA “the experts of their own children,” are in the unique and best position to assess what “best” should like with respect to their children. Regardless of their differences about the marriage, they oftentimes “unite under the mantle of the love they share for their children.”

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 freedom to come to terms on their own terms and in the best interests of their children.

If you’re thinking about mediation, consider Holistic Mediation by contacting Jenna Brownson, Esq. at 978.760.0482 to see if this cooperative approach would suit your goals.

The Taste of Glass on Your Tongue

Coming to an agreement 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) is a lot to ask. This is especially so if you find yourself having to attend to the house and the kids and the grocery shopping and the paycheck.

People just want it to be over–yesterday. People carry resentment and contempt rooted in betrayal and anger. People are so fragile they feel like the slightest change could crush them. People 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.”

I know.

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

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

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

Reach out if you want to work in this way to Jenna Brownson at 978.760.0482.

Where Did My Rug Go?

Most of us are accustomed to life going along at a fairly predictable and generally manageable pace. We stick to routines, we have appointments, we meet expectations, we go day to day with some justifiable confidence about how life will unfold.

And then, something flips, and the foundation (or rug) we’ve been standing on is gone.

For people who find themselves questioning their unhappy, sometimes painful marriages, the feeling that their world is out of control can go from a barely audible hum to a deafening scream. The volume is controlled by the level of crisis in any one moment. The stress and anxiety caused by this “place in life” is soul-depleting, sometimes leading people to turn away from the crisis.

When the day finally arrives that the unhappy person can verbalize a need for a change, that’s when the practical work might begin. The couple has choices: stay unhappy, find a way to foster happiness, go in separate directions and seek independent happiness.

(Side note: “Happy” and its derivatives are very broad terms used in a general way.)

At Holistic Mediation, I believe that you can be in control of your life. No one is more skilled in making thoughtful and proper decisions about your life than you are. Imagine how empowered you can feel when you make a choice about your life, rather than a stranger in a long black robe who was given information through “translators,” i.e., lawyers.

Mediation honors your autonomy.

Mediation welcomes your insights.

Mediation respects your decisions.

My role as your mediator is to facilitate your client-led negotiations and then draft your collaborated agreement. I know that peacemaking can prevail. Civility can be found even in the most emotional and challenging arena.

Please contact Jenna Brownson at 978.760.0482 to begin the process.

Take Hold of the Reins

“You can be in control of your life.”

This is what I tell my clients and what I believe to be true. No one is more skilled in making thoughtful and proper decisions about your life than you are. Imagine how empowered you can feel when you make a choice about your life, rather than a stranger in a long black robe. Your hold on those reins is what will direct and control forward progress.

Mediation honors your autonomy.

Mediation welcomes your insights.

Mediation respects your decisions.

My role as your mediator is to facilitate your client-led negotiations. As a trained attorney, I can give you legal information, though not advice, about the road ahead. If needed, I will draft the terms and conditions that will become your agreement.

I know that peacemaking can prevail. I believe that that civility can be found even in the most emotional and challenging arenas.

If you’d like to start down the road with me as your guide, please reach out.

The Entanglement of Money with Trust

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. This description is of a couple that manage to find agreement. Sometimes, the divorce goes to trial. The costs go up exponentially from there.

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.

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, I get from “unhappily married” to “civilly divorced.” My professional skills ensure that this happens quickly though concisely.

If either party does not trust the other, I have no way of structuring a trusting environment. While I believe in the non-adversarial nature of mediation, it’s not for everyone. No need to despair: there are lots of lawyers happy to help you through a litigated divorce, but it’ll cost you.

A Big Change for Holistic Mediation

ANNOUNCEMENT:

Holistic Mediation will no longer be offering the services of Rob Brownson, LMHC. Rob’s clinical case load is such that he does not have time in his busy practice to include working with new mediation clients.

Therefore, Jenna Brownson, Esq. will resume her practice of solo mediation effective immediately with new clients.

All clients who have started their mediations with both Rob and Jenna will continue to work with them both.

This change in Holistic Mediation’s practice applies only to new clients.

If you are interested in working with Jenna, please reach out at 978.760.0482 or jenna@holisticmediation.org

Trying to Predict the Future

Many people find themselves in mediation for one of two reasons.

  1. They don’t want to litigate; or
  2. They believe their circumstances warrant a not-so-run-of-the-mill approach

I do not have a crystal ball in the middle of the mediation room. It is plain and simple: l cannot predict what will happen once my divorcing clients leave the room to head to court. I can make generalizations about how judges tend to come to their findings. These generalizations are informed by what have traditionally been the decisions made in run-of-the-mill cases.

While Holistic Mediation will honor either of these objectives (or a blend of the two), I can’t assure you–with 100% confidence–that your agreement will be accepted by the judge. I can tell you that I’ve never heard of any “rejected” agreement. This gives me feedback that what I draft for couples is considered by the judge as “fair and reasonable given the circumstances.”

Let me caution anyone who is being told, “I can write your agreement in a way that will be accepted. Guaranteed.”

That sort of statement implies a knowledge of events which have not yet occurred. I believe making those sorts of “I’m 100% confident that the judge will sign off on this” is not only not responsible, it’s also not possible.

If you have come to a point in your search for a way to civilly come to an end of your marriage, I suggest trying mediation for all of its challenges and empowerment. The process is tried and true, unlike the guesswork of gazing into a sphere of glass.

Contact Jenna Brownson, Esq. at 978.760.0482 to learn more.

The Pacing is Yours

One of the great perks of working through a conflict through 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, I 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 mediator’s calendar.

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

Jenna Brownson, Esq. at 978.760.0482