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

The Price of a Lack of Trust

One of the many benefits of opting to pursue divorce through mediation rather than litigation is the cost savings. It’s 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.

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, 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, the 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.

Creating Reasonable Parenting Plans

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 considered 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–as experts of their own children–are in the unique and best position to assess what “best” should like with respect to 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.

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

Not All Messengers Bring Great Packages

For as much as I enjoy facilitating the discussions that happen in the mediation setting, there is the occupational hazard of being “the messenger.” While we all have had the opportunity to see divorces play out in literature and on the silver screen, these are fictionalized versions of what amounts to be the “contract for the dissolution of marriage.” I’m oftentimes the very first person to broach the important matters of the division of marital assets, child support, and alimony. These topics are tough: no wonder why screenwriters skip over these.

Regardless of the inclination to avoid wading into these conversations, as your mediator, I’m here to guide you through exactly those tough discussions. Along the way, you’ll get legal information to help you decide what a judge will most likely deem as “fair and equitable under the circumstances.” Additionally, I provide support so that communication can be fruitful and structured.

While I’m regularly the bearer of not-so-glad tidings when it comes to the intricacies of divorcing, Holistic Mediation takes this role of with both seriousness and solemnity. I believe that in order for my clients to feel positively about the process of mediation that they need to be fully informed so that they can fully participate.

Please reach out to see if mediation is right for you by calling Jenna Brownson, Esq. at 978.760.0482.

Cost Matters

Even though many consider meditation a more relaxed and informal way of resolving a conflict, one that could otherwise be litigated, that notion is a little fuzzy. People who use mediation as a tool for alternative dispute resolution (ADR) find many advantages to those who “lawyer up” and battle their matter out in court.

One way that mediation is nearly always better than litigation is the lower cost. In almost every case, it is simply less costly to pay for a mediated settlement than it is to pay for a litigated result. In fact, I cannot think of even one instance where mediation was under priced by litigation.

Let’s take for example one set of “facts” and cost compare:

A couple who have been married for eighteen years, two minor children, the marital home, two vehicles, retirement accounts for husband and wife, a significant inheritance coming from the wife’s side, one boat, and a small plot of lakefront property out of state.

Presume that the parties are amenable to a fair and reasonable settlement in a timely fashion.

If the parties choose to litigate the matter, they are likely to spend between $15,000.00 and $20,000.00.  That figures two lawyers each working for between 30 and 40 hours on the matter. The lawyers’ billable time included the hours sitting in the hallway of the courthouse waiting for the case to be called.

If, instead, the parties choose to mediate the matter, they are likely to spend between $3,500.00 and $5,500.00. If you choose Holistic Mediation, you’ll get the benefit of working between six and ten sessions and all costs to draft the requisite paperwork for court for far less than litigating.

When it comes to cost, a mediated agreement is better than a litigated result (nearly) 100% of the time. And I believe at Holistic Mediation that you should keep as much of your own money as possible 100% of the time.

Please contact me to see if mediation is worthwhile for you.

Atty. Jenna Brownson at 978.760.0482.

A Solid Track Record

Holistic Mediation has successfully worked with:

  • Married Couples seeking divorce
  • Married Couples unsure about whether divorce is right for them
  • Pre-Nuptial Couples interested in constructing a marital blueprint
  • Family members in conflict over finances, property, estates, and wills
  • Family members facing the prospect of elder care and decision-making
  • Family members struggling with disparate views on child-rearing
  • NGOs creating a new path relative to mission or design
  • People in need of guidance and support to make meaningful change

In mediation sessions, the clients get the benefit of having access to a practiced skill set. As an attorney, Jenna addresses the legal, logistical, and analytical aspects of conflict. This approach offers all clients a rich experience in the crafting of legitimate and personally meaningful resolutions.

As the facilitator, Jenna promotes discussion and negotiation that encourages all parties the opportunity to exchange divergent views, ask questions, discuss difficult topics, and find solutions.

Jenna regards the work done in mediation as potentially transformative, in that the time spent working through the matters at hand can help the parties reframe their perspectives toward one another. In each mediation, Jenna challenges the parties to adopt new strategies of interaction and to let go of those concepts which stand in the way of present healing and future progress.

Please reach out if you wish to benefit from this method of approaching and conquering conflict.

Mediation by Zoom

We’re closing in on a year of isolation and social distancing. At the beginning of Covid-19, I had a handful of clients whom I concluded their time with me using video conferencing, i.e., Zoom. While the communication shifted to something different, the work went on and unhappily married couples became civilly divorced individuals.

For the last few months, the clients whom I have been helping to forge through the “we’re getting a divorce” list of topics the court wants to make sure were discussed–those clients have been exclusively Zoom-based clients.

At first, I wasn’t sure if it would be possible to comprehensively facilitate a fruitful and transformative process for these couples. What if the “secret” to a successful mediation is being right there in the room with the person you’re readying to divorce? What if those tense moments of negotiation can only be capitalized on when the tension in the room gets so high that someone feels forced to give in? What if zooming from home feels like an unwanted house-call, like opening the door to find a traveling root canal specialist offering to “help”?

Luckily, there is no secret to mediation; tensions still can run high, regardless of physical proximity to the soon-to-be ex-spouse; and, most report that they are “fine” mediating from home.

So, it works.

It is possible to go from where you are now (wondering how long you will have to wait before you can make a positive change for yourself) to where you want to be (moving toward a fair and equitable way to end your marriage).

If you’re there, I’m here.

To reach Jenna Brownson, call 978.760.0482 or email to jenna@holisticmediation.org.

Go with the Pros

When a couple comes to the end of their domestic partnership and are looking for ways to part amicably, it is sensible for them to do so with some guidance from a professional who knows “how the system works” and “what hoops need to be jumped through.” The courts require that particular matters be resolved before a judge can come to a finding and grant a divorce or sign off on a parenting plan.

While there are intricacies and tedium in the process, doing it right the first time is advisable. One of the best ways to ensure that what you bring to court is adequate is to hire professionals who know what you need to have so that the judge can make the finding that the details outlined in your agreement are “fair and reasonable under the circumstances.”

At Holistic Mediation, I understand what you need to get through those hoops.

Call Jenna at 978.760.0482 to see if working with Holistic Mediation can work for you.

Bringing the Children Along

I just wrapped up a mediation with a couple who is divorcing. They were committed to the process, thoughtful about their choices, measured in their tone, and, above all, concerned about their children’s futures.

When I met to compile their “filing packet,” which would be mailed to the Probate and Family Court to be scheduled for a Zoom hearing, I did so taking all Covid19 precautions. While I’d met with this couple in person for the bulk of their sessions, I, too, have shifted to online mediation sessions. But to sign papers and have them notarized, I really needed to be face-to-face, or mask-to-mask as the current “normal” requires.

Outside on a lovely New England afternoon, I waited their arrival. And, to my surprise, four people stepped out of their car. Our clients had brought their two children.In mediating divorces, children are not present. The goal of a divorce mediation is to come to terms on a contract, i.e., the contract for the dissolution of a marriage. The law presumes that anyone under 18 years old lacks the capacity to enter into a contract.

(Note: Chore contracts, homework contracts, and practice-piano contracts are established all the time between parents and their children. Don’t let on that you know that these contracts are invalid based on the legal presumption of incapacity of minors. That could sabotage the harmony that can come from “contracts” like these.)

So, while children aren’t legally necessary to participate in a divorce, it is irrefutable that they are right “there” in each and every mediation session. They are the bond that gets couples to compromise; they are the vehicle to keep the couple focused on the most important piece of the divorce puzzle.

Seeing my clients’ children, from a socially-distanced vantage, warmed my heart and reminded me that when done well, parents can be honest with their children and even let them have a glimpse of what Mommy and Daddy were doing all those times they said, “We’re going to mediation.”

If you think mediation is right for you and your children, please call Jenna Brownson, Esq. at 978.760.0482.