Susan Rossi Cook, Attorney and Mediator

Franklin Legal Blog

Keys to a successful divorce mediation

Any mediation will only be as successful as its participants' cooperation. If either participating party is unwilling to compromise on any matter, it will likely be a waste of time and money for all involved.

In other words, a party can be advised of the great benefits of divorce mediation, but the choice to participate rests solely on their shoulders. Therefore, in this post we want to provide a few tips that will very likely lead to negotiating, and reaching, a successful agreement.

What should be included in a co-parenting agreement?

A solid co-parenting agreement should include many facets. Issues such as education, medical expenses, decision making, parental responsibilities, religion, and others should be addressed. Generally, the more guidance a co-parenting agreement includes on these issues, the less likely it is future conflicts will arise.

One successful kind of co-parenting is known as a collaborative parenting plan. However, it does not work for everyone. A collaborative parenting plan is one in which parents are able to work together and speak to each other regularly, and with sensitivity to what is in the best interests of the child. They may mutually agree on parenting methods, as well as punishments. They may even choose to continue spending holidays and other special occasions together. Obviously, this type of plan requires great mutual respect and hard work from both parties.

Experienced Massachusetts divorce representation

Divorce is one of the most stressful life events a couple can go through. There are many different aspects to worry about and the emotional toll can often be a lot to handle. But you don't have to navigate the process alone.

At Susan Rossi Cook Attorney And Mediator, we take the time to craft customized solutions based on your unique situation. We don't approach any divorce with a cookie cutter method that is applied regardless of the specifics. We understand that divorce affects every part of your life and handle these situations with the compassion, empathy and experience they deserve.

4 ways to encourage a positive co-parenting relationship

Co-parenting enables parents to continue to work together to raise the children even after they are divorced. One of the most important things that you need to do right away is get the parenting plan together. This sets the standard for what is going to happen for the duration of the child's time at home.

On top of getting the agreement together, you need to make decisions about how you will handle yourself in the interactions with your children and your ex. Going into the situation with an open mind and a positive attitude can help immensely.

What is a Qualified Domestic Relations Order?

A qualified domestic relations order (QRDO) is the method through which a retirement plan is divided in the event of a divorce. It provides the terms in which a retirement plan administrator should divide and pay plan proceeds. It is a separate order from the divorce agreement itself.

The purpose of a QRDO is to provide protection of the funds by not allowing a non-employee spouse to withdraw and deposit them elsewhere, at least beyond what he or she has the right to own per the divorce. In other words, a QDRO lets the plan administrator know a divorce has taken place and a court had ordered specific payout of funds. When a QRDO has been issued, the non-employee spouse can withdraw any awarded funds without penalty from the retirement account and move them to an account of his or her choosing.

What will happen at a mediation?

Parties who are going into a divorce mediation can be understandably nervous. They don't know what to expect or how the process goes. Many probably envision themselves shut in a conference room and forced to hash out every good, bad, and ugly detail face-to-face, in front of a room full of people. That thought is enough to give anyone anxiety. However, thankfully, it does not reflect how mediation works.

On mediation day, parties are eventually placed in separate rooms with their respective attorneys at the agreed upon location. Mediators can have their own office space where they prefer to perform negotiations. Otherwise, it can take place at either attorney's office if all parties are in agreement. The appointed mediator will go back and forth between the separate rooms communicating and negotiating with the parties. He or she would have already been provided information prior to the mediation date regarding issues to address and assets that need distributing.

The family business: To divide, or not to divide

It is quite easy to get caught up in the excitement and anticipation of starting a new family business when your marriage is going great, the kids are happy, you are financially secure and the two of you just bought your new dream home.

Divorce is the last thing on your mind, so of course it is not something you take into consideration when forming a new business. Spouses who go into business together can and often do end up in divorce and, as a result, have a messy situation to wade through. Business income and assets must be distributed, and they must decide who will keep the business.

Former military spouses may still be eligible for benefits

When military spouses divorce, ongoing benefits for the non-service member and children pose some concerns. In answer to those, Congress enacted the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSPA).

The USFSPA allows former spouses to continue receiving exchange, health care, and commissary benefits if certain guidelines are met. To continue receiving benefits, a marriage to a military service member must have lasted a minimum of 20 years. Further, the military member must have served a minimum of 20 years of creditable service. The service period, and the marriage period, must have also overlapped by 20 years or more. This is known as the 20/20/20 requirement. If a marriage period overlapped with a service period by only 15 years, a former spouse can maintain full TRICATE medical benefits for a one year period after a divorce is finalized. After that one year, he or she must purchase a separate type of coverage.

Co-parenting counseling could help you and your ex work together

Divorce is a messy process that brings up a lot of emotions. No matter how hard you try to shield your children from your struggles during a divorce, they are liable to, at least, be aware of your emotional state, particularly if you and your ex continue to fight.

An acrimonious relationship with your ex may be normal after a divorce, but that doesn't mean it's a good thing for your children. However, rebuilding a relationship after you have taken steps to dissolve it isn't exactly easy. You may not have a healthy way to express your feelings toward your ex. That can leave you feeling frightened of how the divorce will impact your children.

Co-parenting secrets: Healthy families after divorce

Co-parenting, while not for everyone, is the best way to offer stability and emotional comfort for children after a divorce. Of course, in situations that involve physical, drug, or alcohol abuse it is not always the best option.

Where both spouses are stable, invested in the children, and committed to keeping their best interests in mind, co-parenting is a wonderful solution for everyone involved. As such, it is becoming more and more common among divorced couples.

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Susan Rossi Cook, Attorney and Mediator


38 Pond Street Suite 301
Franklin, MA 02038

Phone: 508-507-8742
Fax: 508-528-5177

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