Category Archives: Divorce

Thinking outside the box about mediation

Clients and family law attorneys are by now very familiar with using mediation as a technique to settle divorce cases. What is less well understood is that there are a myriad of ways to use mediators to make litigation of divorce cases more efficient and streamlined without giving up the right to have their trial or their “day in court” if that is what the parties want.   The following are some examples of situations where mediators can be involved in constructive ways, short of being asked to settle the entire case:

Identifying and retaining neutral experts: If the parties to a contested divorce need a valuation expert, an appraiser of tangible property or real estate, a tax expert or ERISA law expert, they often expend large sums of money selecting their own experts who by definition will stake out positions that aggressively support the client who has retained them. If the parties try to agree on a neutral expert to be jointly retained, that process in and of itself can result in thousands of dollars of fees being paid and wasted time, before a joint expert is retained. As a neutral mediator I am happy to select a joint expert for clients. If that is all I am being asked to do, I would probably do it at no charge if I thought I could do it in a fairly short amount of time by making a few phone calls. Because the expert is chosen by a mediator there is less likelihood that the parties will feel the joint expert is biased.


Discovery disputes: Scheduling of Motions relating to discovery is not only a slow process in court, but Judges hate dealing with discovery issues. The parties risk alienating the judge and in most instances the judge will appoint a discovery master anyway. Why not agree to use a discovery master, or mediate the discovery issues. Often if the parties discuss their need for information with a mediator, there can be ways of obtaining the necessary information that are less intrusive and more efficient. It may be counter-intuitive, but getting a neutral to deal with discovery disputes can be a lot less expensive than two lawyers fighting with each other about them.


Management or monitoring of case logistics: Frequently when there is an appraisal of real estate or business property both clients and their lawyers are present. When real estate is being sold, both parties retain real estate lawyers to be involved in the drafting of documents or selection of real estate brokers. There are countless examples of events in a divorce case where the clients feel it necessary to have both lawyers present to avoid real or imagined opportunities for mischief. Why not pick one professional to attend or manage these events as a neutral?


Accounting: Frequently parties are in dispute over accounting issues. For example there are claims that a joint account was mismanaged or bills were unpaid, or bills that should have been shared, were not shared. Or there are claims that money has disappeared. These disputes can be maddening enough without making them worse by asking the parties lawyers to fight them out. Why not retain a neutral accountant/mediator to deal with it?


If we think a little bit out of the box, it will become apparent that there are many tasks in a divorce case that can benefit from being attended to in mediation, rather than court. And the parties can still retain the right to have the important issues decided by a judge, if that’s what is necessary.


BBA Talk on Income from Pass-Through Entities

On Tuesday November 3, 2015 at 5:30pm (at the Boston Bar Association on Beacon Street in Boston) I will be giving a talk with financial expert Robert Stankus from CBIZ Tofias about the implications of income from a pass-through entity. This is a challenging but interesting topic that can cause fits to practitioners and the Court as they… Continue Reading

Award Winning Book on Collaborative Practice

Proud to announce my participation as one of the co-authors of this award winning book on Collaborative Practice published by Massachusetts Continuing Education (MCLE NEW ENGLAND). Thanks to all of the co-authors who participated and to MCLE for their help. The International Association for Continuing Legal Education (ACLEA) has announced that Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education… Continue Reading

Temporary Alimony is NOT General Term Alimony

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court added new clarification today in its opinion in the Holmes case (see full opinion here). In Holmes, Husband was ordered to pay temporary alimony during the pendency of the divorce modification case.  The SJC held that the 2 years Husband paid “temporary alimony” (during the pendency of the modification case)… Continue Reading

Child Support is Becoming More Complex

I used to tell my clients that child support was a straight forward issue.  Prior to the August 2013 Child Support Guidelines, I believed that it was.  If one parent had primary custody of the child/ren then to determine income, simply input the data into the child support calculator and whatever the number was, would… Continue Reading

Your first meeting with your divorce lawyer

For most people the first step they take in getting divorced is contacting a divorce lawyer. A lot has been written on how to choose a lawyer. This article assumes that you already have chosen a lawyer who you think you will be satisfied with. There is a fair amount of anxiety surrounding that first… Continue Reading

When should I file for divorce?

New clients often ask the question, “When should I file for divorce?” This seems like a simple question, that should have a simple answer. But it does not. The reason is that every case is different. Here are some reason to file quickly and some reasons to wait. Which of them apply to you? REASONS… Continue Reading

Six Months of experience under the new alimony reform law

We now have been working with the new alimony law for almost six months. What have we learned? Here are my thoughts: The new alimony law has resulted in a sea change. The notion of lifetime alimony in Massachusetts has gone the way of the Dodo bird. Interestingly, the wave of new modifications based upon… Continue Reading

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