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Collaborative in a time of COVID

by Beth Aarons When a former family law colleague of mine told me about Collaborative Law Process sometime around 2008, conceptually it sounded much like a series of traditional four-way meetings, but with a therapist present.  As a fledgling dispute resolution process, I saw no harm in adding this skill set to my professional tool kit to bolster the transition of my practice out of litigation and into dispute resolution. It was not until several years after I had taken the Introduction to Collaborative Law training that I experienced the actual magic of Collaborative Law Process.  The family had been slowly imploding for years and now everything was coming to a head.* Mom and Dad still occupied the same house but had stopped speaking to each other years earlier after Dad had an infidelity.  They had decided to divorce but not tell the kids until there was a plan to separate into two households.  Mom had lost her job and Dad’s salary was not enough to cover two sets of living expenses,
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2020 U.S. Presidential Platforms - What do they say about Families?

In 2016 we shared what each presidential platform stated about families and given the upcoming election we want to update our post with the latest information.  There are significant differences between the presidential candidates, and their platforms explain some of the vehemence with which many defend or attack the 2020 candidates.  Since this blog focuses primarily on the impact of the law on families and family conflict, we will concentrate on only one portion of the presidential platforms: How does each 2020 U.S. Presidential Platform address families in America? While in 2016 we indicated that we did not endorse any candidate officially, and we provided the platforms in no particular order, in this election the author (Justin Kelsey) cannot, in good conscience make the same statement.  The republican nominee for president, Donald Trump, has failed to represent equality, freedom, and human rights for all individuals and families in America and he has expressed opinions about powe

Easier than Ever to be Collaboratively Trained!

The Massachusetts Collaborative Law Council's Introduction to Collaborative Law Training won't be stopped by COVID-19.  The training is September 23-25 from 8AM - 2PM via Zoom.  Flyer:  Collaborative Law is a dispute resolution process similar to mediation but with many differences. It is an opportunity to expand your out-of-court negotiation practice, to increase your negotiation skill-set, and to provide additional service options to your clients.  If you've heard about Collaborative Law but you're still not sure, learn more about Collaborative Law by watching this 4-part video series , or reach out to me directly to schedule a meeting to discuss . Register and Learn more here! More Info on the Training: Save time, money, and your commute in this virtual IACP approved basic training in collaborative law.  Learn the fundamentals of the Collaborative Law model and how to apply it to both Family & Business Law cases. Develop results-oriented techniques to help cl

Are Mediators in Massachusetts Certified?

I get this question from lawyers a lot who are wondering if a particular training will "certify" them to be mediators. In fact, I just received an inquiry today related to the upcoming 40-hour online mediation training provided by Divorce Mediation Training Associates (more info below): Are Mediators in Massachusetts Certified? What Mediation Training results in a Certification? In Massachusetts there is no government certification or license provided by the Commonwealth certifying mediators. There are some court rules and statutory provisions, however, that require a 30 hour training for certain activities and I believe this is where the misconception about "certification" stems.  The court rules and statutes that require training are: Under the mediator confidentiality statute,  Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 233, Section 23C , mediators who have taken at least 30 hours of training and meet other requirements, have confidentiality protections in the

A Template for Avoiding Court

"We must come to see with the distinguished jurist of yesterday that 'justice too long delayed is justice denied.' "  - from the Letter from Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King, Jr. Seeking and obtaining the assistance of the courts in resolving disputes is a right afforded the residents of our republic, but it is not always administered justly and equally.  Many have been denied those rights over the years due to discrimination or economic limitations, and it is a privilege of access that many others have come to take for granted. The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted just how necessary court access is in emergencies, and also delayed significantly the access to courts for non-emergency matters.  Unfortunately, what constitutes an emergency is very limiting, and for many this means bearing the stress and trauma of ongoing litigation for much longer than even the normal lengthy process.  Now more than ever is the time to consider alternatives. The mos

In Mediation, Sometimes a Number Isn't a Number

In many settlement negotiations, the two sides narrow their disagreement to a small gap in their positions, a gap so small it pales in comparison to the total amount of money being discussed.  This happens often in divorce mediation, where clients threaten to blow up a multi-million dollar divorce settlement over the last $5,000 disagreement.  Why would anyone do that?  Why would either side let everything fall apart over an amount they'll obviously spend on attorneys if they continue fighting? The reason is that it is seldom about the money, and it is often about what the money represents.  Those last few dollars in a negotiation often represent winning or losing; they represent the potential for acknowledgment or just another rejection; they represent all the giving in that got us here thus far, and the loss that goes with it; and in a divorce those last few dollars potentially represent the true end of the relationship and the last chance to hang on. Our friend and fe

Replace your cancelled Court Hearing with a Mediation

If you have a court hearing scheduled in the next few weeks, most likely you've been told it's postponed.  While some hearings will be scheduled telephonically and by video conference, the COVID-19 pandemic is likely causing significant delays in obtaining a hearing and an order or judgment.  This is understandable as the court and the bar figure out how to adjust to this crisis.  Regardless of how understandable these delays are, though, the experience for individuals going through conflict must be frustrating, disappointing, and in some cases devastating. Now is the time to consider your alternatives to court. Mediation, conciliation, collaborative representation, and arbitration are all available options to those looking to resolve their issues without further delay.  Many of these dispute resolution professionals already have experience using videoconferencing to meet with clients and for us, our business has continued almost uninterrupted.  At my office, Skylark L