One of the advantages of mediation is the flexibility of the mediation process. For those people whose conflict includes multiple issues, as is often the case in divorce mediation, skilled mediators can adapt and assist with communication, goal-setting, problem-solving, and in some instances even transformation of a relationship.
To allow the mediation process to adapt in this way we sometimes have to look at options for meeting that are unconventional to help people see their issues in a new light. At Skylark Law & Mediation, we have two conference rooms that are very different for exactly this purpose.
One conference room is more business-like and is more appropriate for discussing financial and legal issues. Our other conference room is more casual, including pictures of my children on the walls. I find that clients usually feel this setting is more comfortable for discussing parenting disagreements, or communication issues.
Meeting only in conference rooms, however, can be limiting. Conflict doesn't only occur in a board room. Conflict occurs in the dining room, and the living room, and the bedroom, and outside, and in the car, and so on. So why do we only mediate conflict in a conference room?
Now, I'm not suggesting that we mediate conflict in people's bedrooms, but I think there is a value to giving people the opportunity to stand up and move around when problem solving. As the other attorney/mediators at Skylark can attest I typically walk around the office when on the phone. I find it easier to stay calm and think on my feet while literally being on my feet. So I was intrigued when I recently discovered a company in D.C. called Netwalking, LLC which helps organize walking meetings. The idea of movement and walking during a meeting, especially one that can be as emotional as a divorce mediation, seems to be a natural fit.
Therefore, I've decided to start offering our clients the option of meeting outside on the walking path behind our office (weather permitting). The Cochituate Rail Trail starts right behind our office and is a paved and low impact walking trail. It is an ideal location for a walking mediation meeting and it is as private as an outside walk is likely to get.
The walking mediation meeting obviously won't fit every situation. For example, it won't be appropriate with conversations that may require the complete privacy of the office setting. However, if mediation is going to be flexible and adapt to the situation, then we may need to adapt more than just the arrangement or style of our chairs. It may be time to think outside the conference room.
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