Divorce Mediation & Collaborative Divorce Articles

We hope you find our articles relevant and informative. If you have questions about divorce or any other family law matter, please contact Susan Lillis for a consultation or call (978) 356-2934 ext. 12.

Life and death divorce matters

A life and death matter divorcing couples should consider is life insurance.

Most couples get some form of life insurance during the marriage and, in most cases, they name their spouse as the beneficiary. It’s not unusual for divorcing couples to keep the existing life insurance in place after the divorce.  But no matter what the method of divorce—litigation, mediation or collaborative divorce—both parties should re-examine life insurance coverage, particularly if children are involved. (more…)


Slow down your mediation

One of the many selling points for mediation versus litigation is time. In general, divorcing couples who are committed to resolving matters out of court can get divorced in far less time than it would take a case to go to through the court system.  That said, a mediation should not be seen as  a “quickie” divorce.  If anything, it makes paying attention to the details even more important.

Why? Plain and simple, you have to come up with a divorce agreement that you can live with not only today, but five to 10 years down the road. If financial information surfaces after the divorce is final, or if it is available at the time of the divorce but one or both parties choose to ignore it, it can be extremely difficult to go back and change the divorce agreement.   So being as thorough as possible during your mediation is critical. That’s why I always advise my mediation clients to retain counsel, even if they agree on everything. (more…)


Setting the boundaries for a smooth divorce

Many times I am asked about the most distinct difference between collaborative divorce and litigation and why collaborative divorce can be better.  Perhaps the most notable difference lies in the communication.  More specifically, the amount of direct contact you have with your spouse during the divorce process and negotiation. (more…)


Can mediation and collaborative divorce be less taxing?

When it comes to taxes, most people would prefer to pay as little as legally required. So it stands to reason that when a couple divorces, who gets what tax deductions can become a matter of contention. Mediation and collaborative divorce can help prevent disagreements over tax deductions from escalating into time-consuming, retainer-devouring delays. (more…)


Paying for college for divorcing parents

Paying for college can be quite a challenge for divorced parents. Yet those who have settled their divorce via mediation or collaborative divorce, might actually have an advantage in this area.


Many couples—divorced and otherwise—have different ideas on whether to and how much to contribute to a child’s college education. Some think their child shouldn’t have to pay anything. Other parents want their child to have some skin in the game and pay for a little, half or even all. Often these different ideas are not addressed until a child is ready to start college. (more…)


Mediation or collaborative divorce can save the house

You and your spouse have decided to divorce and your home is the primary marital asset. You agree you want the children to remain in the house. You even agree on which of the two of you stays in the house. Yet if the spouse who is staying on in the home cannot afford to buy out his or her spouse, you have a dilemma. Mediation or collaborative divorce may offer a solution that litigation might not be able to provide. (more…)


How to keep holiday visitation from being a sticking point

When it comes to celebrating the holidays, many people hearken back to their childhoods and want to replicate their family rituals for their own children, including things like lighting the menorah, decorating the tree, opening one present only on Christmas Eve, etc.  Yet, if you were not a child of divorce and now you and your mate are divorcing, it may be a bit unrealistic to expect those holiday traditions to continue exactly as you remember with your family.

For many divorcing couples going through mediation or a collaborative divorce, there’s an inference that ‘my spouse and I are working together on an agreement that’s fair and we will work the holiday arrangements out’.  Unfortunately, when it comes to the holidays, what you think to be reasonable may not seem the same way to your spouse. That’s why it’s so important to be as definitive as possible when setting a holiday schedule when going through a divorce. (more…)


Alimony durational limits and mediation/collaborative divorce

By now, most people have heard about the new Massachusetts’ alimony laws and how the length of time for alimony payments—at least for general term alimony–is factored based on the length of the marriage. On paper, you would think this might simplify things if you plan on mediating your divorce or going through a collaborative divorce process. The answer to that is: it can. But it can go the other way as well. (more…)


What would I ask before hiring an attorney?

As a mediator or collaborative divorce attorney, questions are a huge part of my job. Yet more often than you think, I’m the one being asked the questions. And the one most often asked is “what would I ask before hiring an attorney?”

The answer really depends on the type of lawyer needed—family attorney, mediator or collaborative divorce attorney. In general, no matter what type of attorney you need, you do want to ask three things: (more…)


Mediation – What’s it really like?

Over the years, I’ve mediated dozens of cases. One thing I try to be cognizant of is that, for most people, this is their first mediation (and hopefully their last). So while this might be routine to me, it can be a trip to the unknown for divorcing couples who are already in a highly stressed state. Often, I find that people who come to my 30-minute consultation prior to the start of a case really want to know “how does it work?”

Here’s an outline of what will happen over the course of a “typical” mediation. Granted, no two mediations are the same and there are circumstances that can alter the course. For the most part, this is what you can expect: (more…)