How can Mediation help divorcing parents with Snow Days?
Snow days are one of the most exciting events when you're a child, especially if it means a reprieve from an upcoming test or homework due date. But for parents, snow days are a significant inconvenience including last-minute schedule changes and all the fun involved in snow removal. In addition, many employers will expect you to "work from home" but that is easier said than done when you have young children (as I write this I'm being asked by a three year-old why she can't have candy for breakfast).
As with many issues separated parenting exacerbates many of these inconveniences. For separated parents, a snow day means additional questions such as which parent is in charge and who is responsible for snow removal at a shared property. For parents who have chosen litigation to resolve their divorce, these disagreements could mean additional attorney's fees or court dates. By contrast, all of these challenges are minimized when parents work together, as they are are encouraged to do by any settlement process that prioritizes self-determination.
Mediation and Collaborative Divorce help parties deal with the unexpected on their own by setting communication as the first choice, before fighting. Even for parents who were not able to settle their case in mediation, if they tried mediation first then they set a precedent that they would try to work it out themselves before going to court. One study, which we've written about before, showed the dramatic results that just trying mediation had on parental relationships with their children.
Going to court to resolve parenting disputes can be appropriate when one parent or the children need protection, but in cases where parents are simply unable to agree going to court, sets a precedent that all disputes should be handled by attorneys. That's not only expensive, it takes away control from the parents to determine themselves what is best for their children. There is even a contrast between the practical issues of scheduling when choosing court over mediation: during today's storm (2/2/2015) the trial court decided to stay open despite all local school systems closing. Mediation let's you choose your own schedule and timing, but if you choose litigation your schedule is now controlled by a bureaucracy which is always a frustrating experience.
In Massachusetts the statutory waiting period after a Judgment of Divorce and before the divorce becomes final (or absolute) is called the Nisi period. After a divorce case settles or goes to trial, a Judgment of Divorce Nisi will issue and it will become Absolute after a further ninety (90) days. This waiting period serves the purpose of allowing parties to change their mind before the divorce becomes final. If the Judgment of Divorce Nisi has issued but not become final yet, and you and your spouse decide you don't want to get divorced, then you can file a Motion to Dismiss and the Judgment will be undone. Although many of my clients who are getting divorced think the idea of getting back together with their ex sounds crazy, I have had cases where this happened. In addition to offering a grace period to change your mind, the Nisi period has three other legal effects: 1. The most obvious effect of the waiting period is that you cannot remarry during the Nisi period, be
If one of the parents in a custody case has a criminal record, the types of crimes on their record could have an effect on their chances of obtaining custody. In custody cases the issue is always going to come down to whether or not the best interests of the child might be affected. In the most extreme case, in which one parent has been convicted of first degree murder of the other parent, the law specifically prohibits visitation with the children until they are of a suitable age to assent. Similarly, but to a less serious degree, in making custody and visitation determinations the court will consider crimes that would cause one to question the fitness of a parent. These types of crimes would obviously include any violent crime convictions which could call into question whether the children would be in danger around a parent who has shown themselves to resort to violence when faced with conflict. In addition, drug and alcohol abuse offenses would call into question a parent
I recently had the opportunity to train with two of the most prominent mediators in Massachusetts: John Fiske and Diane Neumann . Each time they run a training, John and Diane share what they think is the most important question for a client to answer to have an effective mediation. John says that he thought the most important question is "What do I want?" But then he will tell you, with a knowing smile, that Diane disagreed with him and she would say that the most important question for a client to answer is "Who am I?" I agree with Diane. The best lawyers and mediators ask their clients not just about what they want, but also deep questions about the clients' identity, goals, and values in order to help the clients resolve conflict in the most effective way possible. Despite knowing this, we often fail to ask clients the simplest questions when we first meet them or have them fill out an intake. We fail to give them an opportunity to answer the question “W