MINIMIZE CONFLICT WHILE SEPARATING, DIVORCING, AND CO‑PARENTING
While the decision to end a marriage or relationship is never easy, resolving custody, parenting time, support, and property division need not be difficult or unreasonably expensive. As a Massachusetts divorce and family law mediator, I meet with both parties and help facilitate a satisfactory settlement. A mediated divorce spares clients the expense and stress of protracted lawyer negotiations or a litigated process in which the Judge makes decisions about you and your family’s future. Alternatively, as a collaborative divorce lawyer, I will represent you in a respectful negotiated settlement process.
Following decades of experience in traditional and alternative dispute resolution, and many successful trials, I now focus my practice exclusively as a mediator and as a collaborative attorney. This means that I do not represent clients in litigated matters in Court, or in negotiations where the other party is not committed to a collaborative process. I also provide legal advice to individuals who are working with other mediators, I draft prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, and I mediate and provide collaborative representation in post-separation and post-divorce issues including modifying parenting schedules and support obligations.
Find Out How I Can Help
If you are heading toward separation or divorce, or you need to resolve parenting or support issues with a former partner or ex-spouse, message me here to find out more about my services.
CREATIVE AND PRAGMATIC
Alternative Dispute Resolution
As a mediator, I work directly with two individuals who have the desire and ability to work together to resolve their issues.
My role as a mediator is to facilitate the creation of a mutually acceptable settlement that will be approved by the Court in an uncontested hearing.
As a collaborative attorney, I represent my client in a peaceful, respectful negotiation with another collaborative attorney.
The process is designed to reach a mutually-acceptable settlement that will be approved by the Court in an uncontested hearing.
You Have Options
A mediated settlement involves both parties meeting with a mediator who facilitates settlement. Each party may retain an attorney for advice, and when helpful, the mediator meets with both clients and their attorneys.
Mediators do not make decisions about settlement, nor can a mediator provide legal advice (even if the mediator is an attorney) because the mediator serves as a neutral, not as an advocate. A mediator helps the parties identify the issues to be resolved, and meets with the parties to help work through those issues. If the parties request, a mediator can draft the Separation Agreement which is the settlement agreement that is submitted to the Court for approval.
A successful mediation requires both parties to fully and honestly disclose financial information, and to have the motivation and commitment to a respectful process, understanding that some compromise will be necessary in order to achieve a full settlement.
COLLABORATIVE NEGOTIATED SETTLEMENT
A collaborative negotiated settlement involves each party being represented by a collaborative attorney. At the start of the process, the clients and attorneys sign an agreement that if the negotiation is unsuccessful, the collaborative attorneys will not represent the clients in a contested court proceeding. This agreement provides a powerful motivation for settlement. Once a settlement is reached in concept, one of the collaborative attorneys drafts the Separation Agreement which is the settlement agreement that is submitted to the Court. Then both parties and their attorneys review the draft and revise it together until it is finalized to everyone’s satisfaction.
A successful collaborative negotiation requires both parties to fully and honestly disclose financial information, and to have the motivation and commitment to a respectful process, understanding that some compromise will be necessary in order to achieve a full settlement.
Trial is a last resort for resolving separation, divorce, and co-parenting issues. The process is long (typically at least 18 months from filing the Complaint until trial, and often longer), expensive, and removes control over the process from the parties to their attorneys and the Court.
The Court has the authority to make orders that may or may not reflect what either party requests for relief. We have excellent Judges in Massachusetts, but you may not be happy with some of the results after trial. And sometimes final Judgments are appealed, exacerbating the time and expense of the legal process even further.
IS ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION RIGHT FOR ME?
MEDIATION AND COLLABORATIVE REPRESENTATION
You are treated respectfully throughout the process.
The process is private and confidential.
Cooperation and compromise are valued.
Process helps preserve family relationships.
ADR saves significant money on legal fees.
TRADITIONAL NEGOTIATION AND LITIGATION
Process is often adversarial and contentious.
Damaged family relationships can result.
Children typically suffer when there is protracted conflict between parents.
Costs can be extremely high taking resources away from family needs.
If litigated, most of the Court file becomes public record.
Who Are My Clients?
I represent clients and mediate family law matters in traditional and non-traditional families throughout Massachusetts, including:
Formerly Married Couples and Individuals
If you are interested in mediation, collaborative representation, legal advice when you are working with another mediator, or a pre- or post-nuptial agreement, please message me here.
(Valerie) is ethical, diligent, caring, and doesn’t promise results that she can’t deliver. She’s very tuned into children’s needs whose parents are divorcing, and educates her clients about how to keep the children’s needs in the forefront and support their relationship with the other parent.
Valerie is an extremely talented mediator with superb communication skills. She keeps her clients well informed of what is to be expected in terms of creating a separation agreement and preparing for court. She is professional, even in sticky situations, and has a great sense of humor, which is helpful in difficult times. The Valley is lucky to have Valerie as a resource and I highly recommend her.
Whether I’m serving as a mediator or a collaborative lawyer, I bring an open mind and curiosity about my clients and their family to the table. This enables me to gain a deeper understanding of the family dynamics, the needs of the children, and how to approach problem solving effectively.