Frequently Asked Questions
Find the answers you're looking for with Divorce Mediation
Divorce mediation works for couples who have come to the realistic conclusion that they would like to end their marriage through divorce, arriving at fair and reasonable agreements that are best for the whole family. It will work for any party who is capable of being reasonable and willing to listen. The ideal mediation client is one who understands that time is money, and wants to work through the divorce process with the least possible amount of drama, heartache, and expense. They have shared assets, debts, children, or any of the above. Where children are involved, the ideal client for Ivy Wall Consult is one who is capable of always trying to put their kids’ needs first. The vast majority of clients I have worked with over the years have been people that I have genuinely liked and enjoyed being with. I know that sounds funny coming from a divorce mediator, but the people that typically gravitate towards my practice are people who, for the most part, get it and value my ability to steer them clear of the dark, negative energy that can easily consume parties who find themselves in litigation.
This is perhaps a more important question and one that I have studied closely for more than ten years now. When does our process fail, and why???? I have identified a couple of prevailing factors that seemed to exist in the cases where we have ultimately failed to settle the case. One such factor deals with unreasonable expectations by one (or sometimes both) of the parties. This might have to do with support formulas, or skewed asset divisions where a party’s view of what they are obligated or entitled to falls well outside of the range of possible acceptable outcomes that the Commonwealth would expect and demand of them. But in more frank language, I would say the second factor we sometimes see is what I refer to as the bully factor. You see, I often have to remind people that the dynamic that existed in their marriage/relationship does not just automatically change simply because you are getting divorced. Change only happens when we determine that we want it to happen and we take the actions necessary to MAKE it happen. If one of you was a total bully in the marriage, it will typically show up very quickly in the mediation room. And bullies don’t do well in divorce mediation, where the expectation is to arrive at mutually beneficial terms and agreements that minimize financial damage and maximize moving on.
Let me say one word about lawyers……. Not a Fan! Ok, that was three words, and I’m sure some people will find plenty to be offended by there. But if you are offended, just take a look on Google at how many members of the present US House and Senate hold law degrees. And then try to convince me I’m wrong. Let me elaborate. Of course, in many cases we enlist the services of qualified divorce lawyers in the process of a mediated divorce settlement. In even simple cases, I often advise the parties that they should consider at least a limited scope engagement with an attorney to review the agreements and language that they are finalizing. Indeed, the Commonwealth is keenly interested in making sure parties to a mediated divorce settlement are aware that they have the right to seek counsel – the Commonwealth is looking to prove that “informed consent” exists prior to signing off. Informed consent means knowing what you are doing, being fully aware of your rights and obligations, and signing of your own free will. And understand that no mediator, even one who holds a law degree, is ever supposed to be giving the parties legal advice from the mediator’s chair. It’s not what we do.
Now I know many divorce lawyers on Cape Cod and beyond and I assure you that many of them are highly quality people – care about their clients, respect people in general and on and on. But it is undeniable to me after being in practice for all these years that the thought process that lawyers are trained to engage in is rarely in your best interest. Lawyers think in terms of win or lose – it is their training – it is part of their nature. Non-lawyer divorce mediators don’t have that flaw in their thought process. I never think in terms of win or lose, except when I see a divorce mediation failing due to the factors discussed above in my FAQ. And then I think in terms of lose only in the context of knowing how much time, money, mental energy, and damage to kids and parents alike, will happen when the parties decide to enlist lawyers and litigate. I feel that I have seen so much in my years in practice that I can say with certainty that the average divorcing individual has really NO idea how to control the actions of a divorce lawyer. With divorce mediators, the feel is very decidedly one of professional working for his clients. In litigation, too often the tone is you go sit over there in the corner and let me do the talking here. It is highly inefficient, contentious, and rarely leads to the best possible outcome.
So, do we use lawyers in the Ivy Wall Consult process?? Yes, we often do and you will likely be advised repeatedly to make sure you go get some legal advice to give you the confidence that what you are signing off on is legal and in your best interests. But is it necessary and productive, or harmful and potentially de-railing?? Only you can decide that. People get divorced all day every day in the Commonwealth of MA without ever even talking to a divorce lawyer. It is a highly financial transaction with not a whole lot of law often involved. But if you need legal advice, there are plenty of quality, trained professionals out there who can give it.
There is no win or lose at Ivy Wall Consult. In fact, you will hear me say it often. What’s bad for one of the parties is bad for the whole family. People who think they won in divorce are kidding themselves, and typically in for a long period of continued conflict and anguish.
Since divorce mediation involves safe, open dialogue, mediation is likely the most responsible and reasonable way to proceed with a divorce when children are involved. Don't surrender your right to the decision-making process to the Massachusetts Family Court process. Ivy Wall Consult can help you come to the best possible arrangement regarding the continued care of your children. I have a very unique background when it comes to children in divorce, having lived the nightmare myself for a period of years. But one thing is abundantly clear. There is nobody in this world better suited to make important decisions about your kids than yourself and your soon-to-be ex-spouse. And don’t think for one second that the decisions you make at the time of the divorce won’t need alteration as you go. Post-divorce mediation and guidance is absolutely key to making this work for you and your family.
Absolutely. And you should! People don’t necessarily realize it, but control of the divorce process should lie with the divorcing parties – not the lawyers. Even In cases where a Judge will ultimately rule on contested areas, many of the issues you face would be far more efficiently handled with a mediator in advance. Particularly in the area of financial matters, the agreements you reach in divorce mediation, prior to trial, will be custom tailored to your family and your needs. You can mediate any of the terms of divorce at any step in the process.
Steven Innis makes Ivy Wall different than working with a lawyer, another divorce mediator, or going through a divorce alone. His lengthy experience as a CPA, training as a divorce financial analyst, his personal divorce experience and his philosophy of proceedings provides an analytical yet compassionate solution to the trying times of divorce. Everyone is heard, allowed time to think, and kept informed throughout the entire process.
If you would like a free consultation with Ivy Wall Consult, call us at (508) 419-7048.