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The Family Mediation Blog

In Memory of Judge Edward Ginsburg

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Judge Ginsburg.png

Message from MCFM President Kim Whelan:  Many of you may have already heard of the passing of Judge Edward M. Ginsburg on June 24th. Wonderful things have been written about Judge Ginsburg and I wanted to amplify the important contributions he made to family mediation in Massachusetts. In 2020, MCFM recognized Judge Ginsburg for his valued support of our mediation community by awarding him the John Fiske Award for Excellence in Mediation. It seemed only fitting to ask John Fiske to reflect on Judge Ginsburg’s legacy with respect to the mediation profession. John sent me the wonderful narrative that follows about the important role that Judge Ginsburg (and John) played in jumpstarting family...

Moving Beyond Screening: Mediation and Intimate Partner Violence

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Picture of two people sitting far aparatMoving Beyond Screening:  Mediation and Intimate Partner Violence

Historically, divorce mediators have been encouraged to screen out cases involving intimate partner violence.  This approach presumes that mediation would harm rather than benefit victims of intimate partner violence (“IPV”).  Lawyers and IPV Advocates have also been discouraged from allowing their clients to participate in mediation when there are allegations of IPV, based on the same presumption.  However, isn’t it possible that we are doing a disservice to our profession and to families who have experienced the trauma of intimate partner violence when we deny them the same...

Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines Updated for 2021 - A Summary of Changes

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

The 2020-2021 Massachusetts Trial Court Child Support Guidelines Task Force was convened in 2020 and requested the submission of comments by December 15, 2020 to assist them in updating the guidelines as required every four years.  MCFM, and other organizations and individuals, submitted comments and recently the Task Force announced their changes with the new 2021 Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines.  Click here to read MCFM's comments. 

Following is a blog post reprinted with permission from Skylark Law & Mediation, PC that summarizes all the changes:

New Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines (2021): Big Changes, Little Changes, Typos...

Massachusetts Probate & Family Court Suspends Requirement for Parenting Education Classes

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Massachusetts Probate & Family Court Suspends Requirement for Parenting Education Classes

by Stephen McDonough

On July 8, 2021 Chief Justice John Casey of the MA Probate and Family Courts announced a suspension to the requirement for divorcing parents to complete the mandatory parent education program specified in the court’s Standing Order 2-16, Parent Education Program Attendance, issued in 2016. 

The announcement surprised many MA divorce lawyers and mediators. Besides our weekly reminders to some clients to finish the program prior to their case concluding, feedback about the program from our clients – which went remote like most everything else during the coronavirus pandemic – was mostly...

Commit to Being a Peacemaker - A Message From Howie Goldstein

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Dear Members of the mediation/collaborative community:

As many of you know, I am in the end stages of what has been a fairly lengthy experience with Prostate Cancer. I had originally considered describing it as a battle, but that terminology is certainly not appropriate in this community and frankly I cringe when I hear that said about anyone who dies of Cancer. Because the implication is that if you succumb to that disease, you are a loser who did not have sufficient strength or toughness to prevail. Now where have we all encountered that kind of language in our professional lives?

We all will die. I am very sad that I will not live longer —-My family is so precious to me and every day with them is a gift. Also, after many years of ambivalence about whether to forsake litigation I finally walked...

3 Credits in the “American Rescue Plan” Mediators Must Know About

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

3 Credits in the “American Rescue Plan” Mediators Must Know About

by J. Anthony Licciardello

Congress has recently passed the “American Rescue Plan” (aka the “stimulus bill”), which has provisions that can significantly increase the benefit of child-related deductions and credits.
The law makes changes to the Child Tax Credit, Child Care Credit, and Earned Income Credit that enhance their value to the person receiving them, especially for the 2021 tax year. 
I thank the folks at Family Law Software for getting these details laid out in a recent newsletter. Their divorce financial planning software is exceptional and has a robust tax module we use to help our...

Court 1A Backlog Update

Monday, March 8, 2021
Court 1A Backlog Update
On February 11, 2021, Judge John Casey, Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court, spoke to the Greater Newburyport Bar Association.  Judge Casey noted as of that date:
  • 1,050 1A hearings for uncontested divorces were scheduled, some as late as August 2021,
  • 3,000 1A cases were processed by the court and waiting to be scheduled for hearings, and
  • Potentially, thousands more were received by the court and had yet to be processed by the court.
Attorneys, court staff, and mediators attending noted that the court has been understaffed long before...

Multi-Organization Workshop Series on Bias and Diversity in the Dispute Resolution Community

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

The Massachusetts Council on Family Mediation (MCFM) joined forces and resources with the Massachusetts Collaborative Law Council (MCLC) and the Academy of Professional Family Mediators (APFM) to hire Dr. David Campt of The Dialogue Company and Matthew Freeman, co-author with Tiffany Jana of “Overcoming Bias”, to assist our organizations with education on unconscious bias and how it impacts the diversity and equity in our dispute resolution community.  Dr. Camp and Mr. Freeman, working with our organizations' leaders designed a 4-part series aimed at improving our organizations' understanding of these issues and drafting an action plan for creating greater diversity, equity and inclusion both in our organizations and in the larger dispute resolution community.

To that end, and in the interest of having the largest possible impact of...

In Memory of Jerry Weinstein

Sunday, January 17, 2021

It is with tremendous sadness that we share the passing of Jerry Weinstein. In addition to being the first divorce mediator in New England, Jerry was a founding member of MCFM, our first president, the 2006 recipient of the John Fiske Award for Excellence in Mediation, and an MCFM Director Emeritus. 

A tribute to Jerry by John Fiske:

Jerry Weinstein was the father or grandfather of family mediation in Massachusetts, and the Massachusetts Council on Family Mediation was his brainchild and home. I joined the mediation family in September of 1979 after taking a year long absence from Massachusetts with my wife and 3 children with no idea what I would do upon returning. During our trek in Nepal in February my wife suggested I try to help people get divorced peacefully and when I met with Weston friends in Crete in April they...

Child Support Guidelines Task Force Comments

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

<p>Photo by <a href=";utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_content=creditCopyText">Kelly Sikkema</a> on <a href=";utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_content=creditCopyText">Unsplash</a></p>

The 2020-2021 Massachusetts Trial Court Child Support Guidelines Task Force requested the submission of comments by December 15, 2020 to assist them in updating the guidelines as required every four years.  After multiple meetings and requests for submissons from MCFM members an ad hoc committee put together comments to be submitted from MCFM.  These are the comments we submitted:

To the Task Force:

The Massachusetts...