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.

What You Can do to Get Ready to Mediate

Oftentimes, I’m asked, “What do we need to do for the first meeting?” While there is nothing you must do in order to fully participate in that first meeting, you may want to do a few things to prepare.

While the following questions presume that you have children, you can consider them even if you are divorcing without minor children.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  1. In a perfect world, how will the children’s time be allotted between myself and my soon-to-be ex-spouse? Are these notions reasonable when taking into consideration work schedules, school schedules, activities, etc.?
  2. Do I want to stay in the marital house? If so, why? What are the benefits? What are the potential challenges? Is this “best” for the children?
  3. If I don’t stay in the house, where will I go? What are the advantages and disadvantages to a new residence? Are the children relocating with me?

Bear in mind that your initial answers to these will like change and/or take a more defined shape as the mediation progresses. Nevertheless, the themes and realities will be consistent throughout the process. The sooner you begin to grapple with these questions, the more streamlined, i.e., the less costly and time-consuming, your mediation can be.

If you think you might be interested in a mediated divorce, please call Jenna Brownson, Esq. at 978.760.0482.

Less Out of Piggy

Even though many consider meditation a more relaxed and informal way of resolving a conflict 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 matters 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 out-priced 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. That total includes between six and ten sessions and all costs to draft the requisite paperwork for court.

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.

To learn more, contact Jenna Brownson, Esq. at 978.760.0482.

No Cookie Cutters

Recently in the midst of a mediation session, I was asked, “What normally happens in this case? You know, what does the judge say?”

Time and time again, couples who have decided to mediate (instead of litigate) their divorce want to know “what happens when.” And time and time again, I say, “That’s the beauty of mediation. The two of you get to decide what happens when.”

While it is true that most family and probate courts judges could do a pretty decent job of setting down the terms and conditions of an asset division and parenting plan from simply looking at the couple “on paper,” mediation permits the divorcing parties to be the “experts” of their lives and to be the ones making the decisions.

As a lawyer, I could take a fair guess at “what happens when” by knowing that there exists something of a “cookie cutter” that a judge might use to make the decisions for the couple. In fact, when couples litigate their divorces, that happens a lot: the judge makes the decisions for the couple.

Holistic Mediation isn’t in the business of making predictions, speculating on “what happens when,” or telling the couple what they should do. Why? Because the two people best suited to make choices about the terms and conditions of a separation agreement are those two people who it affects the most, i.e., the individuals who are divorcing.

In mediation, there are no cookie cutters. There is open dialogue and collaboration.

Holistic Mediation honors the decision-making when it is done by those best positioned to make those choices.

If you or someone you know is considering divorce, please contact Jenna at 978.760.0482.