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A Co-mediation Case with Support of and Partial Direct Participation of Counsel

The husband was a writer and the wife a technical editor who had not worked in her field as a full time endeavor since they began having children, of which there were now two, aged 6 and 8 1/2. The parties lived in a suburb of Boston in a large home that demanded both investment and cash flow that was significantly greater than the parties produced by means of their employments. Their capacity to have and maintain this home, along with the comforts of travel and private education, though not great extravagances, arose from significant wealth of the husband, much of it in trust, from generations prior. They had been married for about 11 years when we met them. Their wedding was preceded by a pre-marital agreement that provided substantial benefits for the wife while protecting the husband's generational wealth.

The parties presented to us as wishing to avoid the emotional costs of traditional litigation or negotiation, to develop a cooperative parenting plan and to devise a property and support agreement that would facilitate their desire for effective co-parenting, maintain the children in a compatible standard of living between the parties' two homes, while honoring the pre-nuptial agreement substantially. Both parties had access to sophisticated legal counsel but were mutually determined to accomplish as much as they could towards a global divorce settlement without the direct intervention of their lawyers.

After interviewing us, the husband and the wife decided to mediate with the support, but not active presence of counsel and in a co-mediation model, with both principals of LDRC. Over the course of three 2 hour sessions, the parties worked through all of the parenting matters to their mutual satisfaction. They developed a co-parenting model that envisioned relatively close neighborhood proximity of their eventual two homes. The wife anticipated purchasing a new one, with funds expected to become available by operation of the pre-nuptial agreement.

As we proceeded to property and support issues, we determined that the parties were encountering greater difficulty in coming to terms with how to deviate from the strict terms of the pre-nuptial agreement, while still honoring its intent, and in assimilating the parenting arrangements they both desired. After a session devoted strictly to finance, we suggested that we convene one session with counsel present and participating in the mediation. We scheduled this counsel-attended session for approximately three hours, to maximize the benefits of their presence. In this broader session, we held both plenary session and caucus style mediation, as we worked towards a property and support consensus. At the conclusion of this session, we had not reached a comprehensive financial agreement, but the parties left with pending proposals for settlement to consider.

Afterward, we held telephone conferences with both sets of lawyers, and at the request of all parties, communicated with the wife about aspects of the competing proposals. The parties ultimately asked us to draft a separation agreement for them, which we did.

We were pleased to learn that by this means the parties settled their matter and obtained a uncontested divorce judgment from a judge of their county Probate and Family Court.

NOTE: THIS CASE STUDY IS BASED ON A COMPOSITE OF ACTUAL LDRC CASES BUT THE FACTS HAVE BEEN ALTERED TO ASSURE THE CONFIDENTIALITY OF OUR CLIENTS.