Divorce Mediation Blog

2013 Child Support Guidelines Preview Part 1: The Good, The Bad and The Huh?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Many of us, one of the writers here included, opposed the idea of the Child Support Guidelines (CSG) when first issued in 1987, fearing that a formula would be the end of thinking. The first iteration of the Massachusetts CSG met applause and consternation, each in considerable proportions. Then a funny thing happened: we began to use them every day. While they were far from perfect, two major objectives were met: greater consistency of outcomes (less variance by reason of county or judge) and enhanced predictability, reducing litigation of the “inevitable” (sometimes to a fault).

Then came the mandatory quadrennial reviews of the CSG, as mandated by federal law, leading only to tinkering until 2009, when they were substantially overhauled. Now, we have the result of latest review: the 2013 CSG. This latest effort, neither tinkering nor overhaul, provides numerous clarifications, application of consensus practices where gaps existed, new concepts and plain adjustment of some economic outcome. The result is a maturing CSG that does benefit from its regular re-scrutiny, and by-and-large, the 2013 changes are helpful and sensible. Some, we question.

Over the next several weeks or months, we will explore some of the 2013 CSG that are immediately apparent from our perspective as Greater Boston and Western Massachusetts divorce and family law mediators. Of course, time will reveal new questions, gaps and perhaps, inconsistencies, and we will address them from time to time as they arise or come to our attention.

Our next entry will consider the priority of alimony versus CSG calculations.



Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Lawyers who are representing clients in divorce mediation sometimes ask us: what are we supposed to do? It is an important subject matter, and one of interest to the bar, as evidenced by the inquiries that we have received.

It is entirely understandable for divorce lawyers to question their role in this process because lawyers are taught from the day they enter law school (and from exposure to our culture long before) that lawyers are required to provide zealous representation for all clients, divorce and family law parties included. This notion is embodied in many codes of ethical conduct and it denotes fighting for one’s “rights”, or less dramatically, working to get the best possible outcome for the client.

Yet, divorce mediation and other family law mediation matters, are not geared to getting the best possible result for either party; but one which both understand fully, and one with which they both can live, while doing as little damage as possible to the functional relationship of the parties (in some cases improving it perhaps) and minimizing the damage to their collective finances. In some cases, we even find ways to “expand the pie” and find a beneficial outcome for both parties.

So, how is a lawyer working with a client who is not looking for zealous advocacy and actively does not want it, supposed to function? In the next two entries we will discuss this question in two contexts: the lawyer assisted-mediation and the lawyer-attended mediation. (In earlier entries, we discussed this distinction at some length, and we invite you to review those pieces, too.)


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