It’s time for your first Mediation Session. What can you expect?
Your first session at the Centre for Mediation & Dispute Resolution (CMDR) may be somewhat intimidating. Even though you have spoken with a staff member, a mediator, or both, actually walking through the door could be a challenge. In an effort to make your first session less stressful, we have written a broad-brush explanation of what you can expect.
When you arrive, you will notice that our office space is filled with beautiful and unusual artwork, a friendly and supportive staff, and a spectacular view of the waterfalls on the Charles River. The mediator will bring you into one of our offices, introduce him or herself and get you settled. The first session is an orientation and educational process. It is probably the only session in which the mediator does most of the talking.
It is essential to understand that mediation is not therapy and it is not litigation. There is no fault or blame placed on either party. A full financial disclosure is necessary as is a “fair” division of all property. Please note that fair is a relative term. It is only through negotiation and compromise that fairness is achieved. Participation in mediation at CMDR is completely voluntary, and the mediator will explain that a couple or individual may choose to stop mediation, or to put the process on hold, at any time.
Many couples are interested in what the alternatives to mediation might look like. The mediator will discuss possible scenarios with lawyers and what the judge might decide regarding property and custody. Any questions you have regarding divorce law can be addressed. Although CMDR is not a law firm, our director, Lynne Halem has been mediating for over twenty-three years, and she is well educated and up-to-date on divorce law in Massachusetts. In fact, all mediators at CMDR must be knowledgeable in the area of divorce law.
The mediator will inquire about your concerns and what you anticipate are your major issue(s). You will be asked about your current living arrangements including your home, your children and your finances. Action items for future sessions will be determined.
CMDR has a packet for each client that includes: a Personal History Form, CMDR’s Rules of Mediation, and a contract explaining our fees. These will need to be read and the personal information completed. If you have any questions about any of the information in the packet, the mediator can answer them.
Frequently, couples will ask about a Temporary Agreement to resolve issues around support and custody while the mediation is in process. The decisions regarding the Temporary Agreement are not an indication of what either spouse needs or can afford relative to the final agreement. In many cases, couples are doing fine as they are and do not need a Temporary Agreement. It is up to each couple to establish what works best for them.
During your first session, the mediator will cover the different points of the law that need to be addressed (according to Massachusetts state law) in order to create what will be called the Memorandum of Agreement and will serve as your divorce agreement. The areas are as follows:
1. Property and Liabilities
2. Custody and Co-parenting
3. Support (Spousal and/or Child Support)
4. Health Care (Insured and Uninsured; spouse and children)
5. Education (Child and Spousal)
7. Taxes and the Ramifications
8. Future Dispute Resolution
At this point, you and the mediator will determine the most appropriate area with which to begin. For the most part, couples with children start with custody. There will be some homework for your next session, but the biggest hurdle is over. You have begun the mediation process.
Please Call Our Office For Answers To Your Questions – 781.239.1600