WE HELP FAMILIES RESOLVE CONFLICT PEACEFULLY


Monday, April 13, 2020

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 their client communications and work product. 
While these are state requirements, training does not "certify" mediators under these provisions; training simply qualifies mediators to meet these requirements.

Some private organizations do provide certification for mediators, including the Massachusetts Council on Family Mediation, Inc. Those private certifications often have more stringent requirements. For example, MCFM requires an additional 60 hours of training (on top of the 30 hour basic training) as well as a certain level of experience to qualify for their certification. For more information on MCFM's requirements read: How does a Mediator become Certified?

If you see a mediator claiming to be certified you should ask what organization has provided their certification and what are the requirements for obtaining that certification because, not all certifications are created equal.

If you're interested in more reasons to take mediation training read: Top 5 Reasons to get Trained in Mediation.

If you're ready to get trained, Divorce Mediation Training Associates is holding a 40 hour online Mediation Training that not only qualifies for the three Massachusetts state requirements above, but goes beyond and meets the national standard of 40 hours of training.  The training begins on April 22 and will take place over nine mornings from 8:30 AM to 1:00 PM (UPDATE: We're doing another training in July as well!).  Learn more and Register here.



Saturday, April 11, 2020

A Template for Avoiding Court

"We must come to see with the distinguished jurist of yesterday that

'justice too long delayed is justice denied.'


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 most common rejection of mediation, and other forms of out-of-court dispute resolution, is that the other side wouldn't agree or participate in good faith.  As with anything else we don't control the decisions of other people, and we must focus on what we do control, our own actions and reactions.  So if you want to try mediation, or another forum, then ask yourself whether you've done everything you can to make that possible.  In order to facilitate that process, we are sharing a sample letter and explanatory flyer (links below).  We're encouraging you to consider using these templates to find the right forum for your case:

Download: Sample Letter suggesting use of out-of-court dispute resolution

Download: Sample Flyer describing the options for facilitating out-of-court dispute resolution

Outside of Court you have other forum options including:
The sample flyer includes a short description of each of these forums, and the sample letter provides a template for sharing your interest in one or more of the options.  

We encourage you to consider how you can affect your current situation and what action you can take.  When it comes to seeking ways to resolve your conflict, I'm reminded of the lottery tagline "you can't win if you don't play."  If you don't at least ask the other side to try mediation, then you can't keep saying they are the reason you haven't tried it yet.

For more templates to assist in the settlement of divorce matters in Massachusetts, visit the Gray Jay Endeavors, LLC divorce forms website.



Tuesday, April 7, 2020

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 fellow mediator, David Kellem, wrote an excellent article entitled the Price of Peace where he describes asking a client stuck on the last $15,000 of a lengthy and painful negotiation from which both parties had already moved on to new relationships: "how would it feel to you if this afternoon you went home to Diane and instead of telling her how awful your wife is, you could tell her that the case is settled and that life can move forward?

David broke the cycle by helping his client see that regardless of what the final number was (within reason), the value of peace and a finalized divorce was something he had to weigh by his own standard of value.  This is a value only clients can choose, and is often overlooked because it doesn't have a legal or financial value.  Only a client can decide if the price of peace is more important to them than the cost of the fight.

Often the number that clients are left disagreeing about is not going to make or break either of them.  The remaining disagreement often stems more from a feeling of "right"; about where they are each coming from and what that number might represent to each of them.

Instead, of focusing on those feelings of loss, I encourage clients to think about that number, as much as possible, as just a number that will allow them to finalize their conflict. I ask them to recognize that regardless of where they land it's not going to make either of them whole.  Unfortunately in a divorce no-one leaves whole, but it is possible to leave having found enough peace to move on and start healing.


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