Susan Rossi Cook, Attorney and Mediator

Franklin Legal Blog

What is the role of a mediator?

When a Franklin-area couple decides that their marriage is heading for an inevitable divorce it can be a very emotional time for the family. This is a stressful situation for a family, and working through the divorce matters can be contentious. One good option for many families is mediation.

Using mediation for a divorce is often the best option for families. Mediation is an informal process that allows a couple to work out a divorce agreement that is acceptable for both parties. A mediator is used to help both parties come to an agreement instead of a judge, who knows very little about the family, deciding. There are many roles that a mediator can play in a divorce. One role that a mediator may play is helping both parties identify the contentious issues and allowing both parties to speak regarding their needs and concerns. They can make sure all the communication is clear and answer legal questions when necessary. They can enable a fair discussion surrounding contentious issues such as child support, alimony, and property division. They are also able to offer alternatives for solving issues and refer the couple to third-party experts if necessary.

Who decides where a child will spend the holidays?

As the end of the year approaches, Massachusetts' families may be making their travel plans to visit loved ones during the holidays. Families that have been affected by separation and divorce may struggle this time of year as inevitably one parent in a co-parenting team may not be with their child or children on special days of celebration. How this division of time is established can vary from family to family.

Often, parents make decisions about holidays, birthdays, and other special times of the year when they create their co-parenting and child custody plans. Parents may decide to split holidays and alternate between them, or they may establish schedules that outline when during important days they will each have time with their kids. Parents who negotiate their own child custody plans through mediation and collaboration may be able to take control over the way their kids' holiday custody plans are set up.

Minimize the impact of divorce on your children with 3 tips

As a parent, you have always wanted to do what was in the best interests of your children. The last thing you wanted was for them to grow up in what you consider to be a broken household. You wanted their father to be with them and for you to be there, too. Sadly, that is not how things have worked out.

Now, your goal is to minimize the impact of your divorce on your children. It may not be easy, but there are three tips that can help.

The advantages of a mediated divorce

It is November, and all across the state Massachusetts residents may be eagerly planning where they will spend their holidays. For many, the winter months are a time for being with the people that they love and enjoying the company of friends and family. For others, however, the end of the year may be when they struggle to maintain happiness in their personal relationships and consider their options for finding more peace in the next calendar year.

Many divorces occur in January after the holidays are over, and a number of those individuals who choose to end their marriage opt to take the traditional route through the courts to secure their divorces. However, individuals are reminded that mediation is also an option for pursuing divorce, and that there are many advantages to using it if the participants are able to maintain respectful channels of communication.

What is a judgement of Divorce Nisi?

The divorce process can be a long one when individuals choose to use the courts to end their marriages. In Massachusetts, individuals can also elect to divorce through mediation, but doing so is a choice that may not serve the needs of everyone involved. Careful consideration should thus be given to the type of divorce that a person wishes to complete before they begin their journey.

Once the terms of a divorce have been negotiated and individuals have fulfilled the legal requirements of ending their marriages, they will receive a judgement from the court stating that their divorce has been finalized. However, that judgment may be a judgment of divorce nisi. A judgment of divorce nisi recognizes the end of a marriage but does not, in its moment of promulgation, end a marriage.

Financial ramifications of a strategic divorce

Often when a Massachusetts marriage reaches its end it is because one of the partners passes away or the partners choose to end their marriage through divorce. Many bases on which divorces are grounded involve disagreements that cannot be resolved, fundamental differences regarding how the partners approach life, and difficulties that have no other options for resolution. Divorce is hard on individuals who agree that it is necessary, and individuals who choose to divorce can do so through litigation or some form of alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation.

However, a recent trend is emerging regarding why some American couples are choosing to divorce. Known as "strategic divorces," these marriage dissolutions are not necessarily based on conflict but rather perceived or actual financial necessity. When partners to a marriage separate and divorce, they divide up their money and assets and figure out how to live on less than what they had when they were married. Strategic divorces may afford individuals certain options to receive benefits and financial help that they would not qualify for if they continued their unions.

A discussion of parenting time interference

There is no question that divorce is hard on parents and children. Everyone in a Massachusetts family who experiences divorce must learn to live with a new normal as their one household divides into two. When it comes to setting up plans to ensure that children of divorce are cared for and provided with their needs, courts and families work to establish sound and child-focused custody plans.

This family law blog has dedicated many recent posts to different issues related to what constitutes child custody and how child custody plans are set up. However, when child custody plans are insufficient to meet children's needs, they may have to be changed. This can occur when new circumstances, like parental job changes or special needs of the children, arise. It can also happen when parents fail to act in their kids' best interests and do things to detrimentally affect their co-parents' relationships with their kids. This latter category includes actions known as parenting time interference.

Mediation can protect your kids and your privacy during divorce

Mediation has become a relatively mainstream alternative for couples hoping to quickly and less expensively end their marriage. Many people familiar with the process of mediation already know that it can help couples move through a divorce more quickly while also helping them curtail some of the more expensive aspects of a traditional, litigated divorce.

A less recognized benefit of mediation is how it provides more privacy to the divorcing couple and can help them insulate their children from the potentially damaging drama of a contentious divorce. Since mediation takes place outside of the courts, what happens behind closed doors at a mediation session doesn't ever have to become public knowledge.

Separating property pursuant to a Massachusetts divorce

Life is more than the things that one accumulates over time, but the things that individuals choose to purchase, acquire, and keep can have significant financial and emotional value. Gifts from lost loved ones, residences full of memories, and lucrative investments may all help provide comfort and confidence to the lives of Massachusetts residents. When a couple decides to split and go through a divorce, deciding what to do with all of their property can be difficult.

During marriage dissolution, certain assets may be deemed separate in nature, meaning that only one party owns them. Other assets may be considered jointly owned by both parties to a marriage. While separate property generally goes with its individual owner, during divorce shared property must be valued and assigned to one of the individual's for their post-divorce life. When former spouses both want an item of shared property, their negotiations can become strained.

Abuse as a factor in a child custody case

Parents are charged with protecting their children from harm and providing them with the love and care that they need to grow. While most parents take these mandates seriously and sacrifice in order to give their children everything that they need, not all parents act with their kids' best interests in mind. An unfortunate number of Massachusetts parents commit abuse against their kids each year. Those parents may have their custodial rights threatened by the courts.

Parents who abuse or threaten their kids may have their custodial rights cut off. Courts may look for a pattern of abuse in a family law case before making changes to any existing child custody orders, but they may also rely on a single abusive event to justify a modification. Both a parent's physical and legal custody rights can be taken away if a court deems it warranted, which means that there's a lot at stake in these cases

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Susan Rossi Cook, Attorney and Mediator


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Needham, MA 02494

Phone: 508-507-8742
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