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The Family Mediation Blog

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="https://unsplash.com/@kellysikkema?utm_source=unsplash&amp;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_content=creditCopyText">Kelly Sikkema</a> on <a href="https://unsplash.com/s/photos/sticky-notes?utm_source=unsplash&amp;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...

In Memory of Rebecca Cohan

Tuesday, December 15, 2020
Rebecca M. Cohan, long-time MCFM member, passed away on December 6, 2020. As a therapist she worked with individual clients, couples and families for over 40 years, and in 2002 she began working as a family mediator as well. Rebecca continued to help families through her Co-Mediation practice with attorney Stephen Linsky and in her work as a GAL and Parent Coordinator. Our thoughts are with her family, friends, and colleagues. 
 
You can find her obituary here. In lieu of flowers, remembrances may be made to either the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) or the Angell Memorial Animal Hospital in Boston, MA, both of which Rebecca enjoyed supporting. 
...

In Memory of Barry Harsip

Tuesday, December 15, 2020
Barry S. Harsip, long-time MCFM member, passed away on December 3, 2020 after a long battle with a terminal neurological disease. Our community mourns the loss of an ardent supporter of mediation and peaceful dispute resolution.  Our thoughts are with his family, friends, and colleagues. 
 
You can find his full obituary here.  In lieu of flowers, Barry requested donations be made either to Southern Poverty Law Center, www.splcenter.org or the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, www.ushmm.org.
 
For Barry's obituary and online...

Hiring a Mediator for Your Coronavirus Divorce

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Hiring a Mediator for Your Coronavirus Divorce

by Devlin Farmer

couple meeting with mediator.jpgRight now, more than ever, mediation can assist with family restructuring. The courts are backed up and families are under tremendous stress under one roof. The good news is that the entire process of a divorce or separation can now be done online (Zoom); and a mediator can help. A mediator can also be the best way to avoid the stress, damage and cost of a court battle. 
 
How do you choose a mediator? Is it safe to google “mediator” and pick one? When it comes to getting divorced, you don’t want to cut corners making decisions about your children’s custody, child support, your retirement accounts or who gets the marital home. Do it right. Find...

Their Legacy Moves us Forward

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Their Legacy Moves us Forward

by Jennifer Hawthorne

The legal community lost two brilliant minds last week with the passing of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants, and the passing of Supreme Court of the United States Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. In very different ways, both of these great leaders influenced my career path. They each helped to define for me the way in which I wanted to use my advocacy skills to promote more access to justice and a justice system that promotes greater equality in outcome. While my story may be unique, these two zealous advocates had a memorable impact on the career of many of my fellow mediators too. 

When applying to law school, I wrote of my desire to affect...

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