Mediation is a process where divorcing couples work with a neutral co-mediation team consisting of two Mediators who function as neutral third parties. The Mediators help couples by facilitating conversation, assisting with communication and understanding, and helping couples navigate all issues required to be addressed in order to get a divorce in Massachusetts.
If agreement is reached in all areas, the Mediators can draft a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) encompassing in the couples agreement in their own words. *An MOU is not a legal document.* The MOU can be taken to an attorney who can create a Separation Agreement utilizing the MOU.
Please call or email us and we will schedule an intake with you. An intake consists of speaking with our office. We will gather information about what your needs are to determine if your case is appropriate for mediation. If after intake is complete we find that it is, we will then reach out to our Volunteer Mediators to see who is available to take a case. Once we have secured Mediators we will schedule a mediation session time/day that works for all parties.
Family Service of Central Massachusetts is committed to providing services to the Worcester community regardless of income.
Our goal at Family Services of Central Massachusetts, is to provide top notch services that promote and encourage the health, safety and welfare of our community. No case will ever be turned away for inability to pay.
We provide divorce mediation services on a Sliding Fee Scale. Couples pay per hour, per individual income.
Before you get to the table, we will ask you to provide proof of income so we can determine where you fall on our sliding fee scale. If you have not provided this prior to the first session, or do not bring it with you to the first session, you will be charged a default fee of $45/hr. A second session can be scheduled once proof has been provided.
Effective November 1, 2017 FSCM provides a 10% discount to active Military, Veteran, and Law Enforcement using our Sliding Fee Scale services. Copy of DD214 or other verification required for discount to be applied.
The answer is always “It depends.”
The Mediators will meet with couples as many times as it takes for the couple to reach agreement. Part of the Mediators’ role is to help couples stay on track. Divorcing can be a difficult process with heightened emotions and big life decisions to be made that will ultimately affect both of your futures for years to come. We understand navigating these challenging issues and having conversations about them while contemplating what exactly you want your future to be can take time. We are here for you.
On average, couples who are organized who have already spent time contemplating answers to division of property, asset, and liability; parenting time if applicable; and, child and/or spousal support are able to reach agreement in 3-5 sessions.
Sometimes, even if you have spent time thinking about these things, differences amongst the couple can extend the number of sessions need to reach agreement. In those cases, mediation sessions can extend well beyond 5 sessions. Here at Family Services of Central Massachusetts, we allow couples the time they need to come to a well-articulated agreement.
We are lucky to have a talented pool of experienced Divorce Mediators with a diverse range of backgrounds and experience including: law, business, social work, human resources, EEO complaints, small business, and customer service.
All of our Mediators have been specially trained in Divorce Mediation and are able to assist you with your divorce mediation needs.
Divorce mediation differs from traditional divorce in several ways. First, the Mediators are neutral meaning they do not provide legal advice, make suggestions, or tell you what to do. Rather, they help facilitate a conversation between couples empowering them to make the necessary decisions to obtain a divorce amicably.
Second, Mediators do not help parties with any of the court filings or court proceedings. You can find resources here on our website that may help you explore that topic.
There are times when mediation may not be appropriate for couples. Examples may include where there has been physical or sexual domestic violence or child abuse. Such cases are not an absolute bar from mediation. However, they are areas that will need to be disclosed and considered during the intake process for appropriateness.
Think of mediation like having a guided conversation. While there is some formality to it, mediation really is a neutral place where couples can have difficult conversations in a supportive environment.
Once intakes have been completed with both sides, we will send “packets” that contain information and forms relevant to divorce. Mediators do not act as fact gatherers. As such, we rely on parties to assemble necessary information so they can make informed decisions in mediation. Cooperation and willingness to share, for example financial information, is an essential ingredient for agreement to be reached in mediation.
At the first session, couples will sign an “Agreement to Participate” in mediation. This reminds parties that the process is voluntary, confidential and the Mediators are neutral. Together, with the help of the Mediators, you will decide what topics you would like to discuss and the order in which you would like to address them.
From there, you and the Mediators will work together with the goal of reaching a final agreement. If you learn after starting the process that mediation is not right for you, you can always end the mediation. Similarly, you can decide if you would like to have an MOU drafted or, if your goal is simply to seek help having a conversation with your spouse.
The field of mediation is one that is growing and people are becoming increasingly aware of. Different places and practitioners use different styles of mediation. This can be confusing.
The basic premise of mediation is it creates an opportunity for parties to have a conversation facilitated by a third party neutral. After that, styles can vary greatly. For example, some Mediators will tell parties what they believe their case is worth, what their experience has been seeing other cases go to litigation, or what a party can expect for a settlement range.
At Family Services of Central Massachusetts, we provide what is called “facilitative” mediation services. Facilitative mediation means that Mediators do not tell couples what to do, give advice, or make decisions for couples. Every decision comes from you. Mediators do help the parties think through all the probable and expected issues couples need to consider in preparation for divorce.
We also conduct a Screening at the Worcester Probate Court once or twice a month. As one of several court approved mediation programs, Family Services of Central Massachusetts agrees to provide litigants the opportunity to mediate for up to two free sessions in court.
If parties reach agreement we can help draft it, submit it to the court for approval, then you would be free to leave. If you need more than two sessions and would like to continue using our services, we are happy to continue mediating at our office per our Sliding Fee Scale.
Mediation services we provide in court are different than what you may experience if you mediate with the Probation Department. We abide by the principles of mediation which are that it is: Voluntary, Confidential, and Neutral. Parties also must have Informed Consent and Self Determination. We do not make suggestions or tell parties what to do. Mediation with the Probation Department differs where it is not confidential and they can make suggestions.
You can learn more about different kinds of alternative dispute resolution services available in Massachusetts here: https://mcfm.org/blog/content/dispute-resolution-options-made-simple-video