The Right Parenting Plan

The kids heading off on a Disney cruise through the Bahamas with one parent may seem completely reasonable, but how about the other parent wanting to visit relatives with the kids…. in Somalia?

International travel is one of the many areas in a parenting plan where parents have to be particularly thoughtful and considerate of the future. Parents headed through a divorce might want to consider this and other important issues.

Drop Off Duty
Which parent is responsible for dropping off the kids? What happens when the kids are intentionally running late? One way to avoid the “waiting in the driveway” syndrome is to have the parent with the kids be responsible for delivering them to the other parent.

Time Off vs. Time With
In today’s economy with both parents usually working, the primary or custodial parent is often looking for some “time off.” Making sure the other parent lives up to his or her allotted time allows for the custodial parent to rest and recharge their batteries.

Sick Days, Doctors’ Appointments and No Power Days
Providing for “surprise days” and scheduled doctors’ appointments will make for a better parenting plan.

She’s a Teenager!
Preparing a flexible parenting plan that allows for the needs of a sociable teenager is wise. At the same time, it is equally important that the parents try to have a consistent voice about what is permitted behavior and what is not!

Family Traditions
If your spouse’s family has a tradition of spending the 4th of July with multi-generations in New Hampshire, are you sure you want to demand alternating all such holidays? At the same time, divorce can be all about starting new traditions with your kids. Finding the best parenting plan for your family is an important part of the divorce process.

Mediation and Collaborative Law can provide you with the best opportunity to come up with the best plan for your family. If you have any questions on finding the right parenting plan, please contact my office for a free process presentation.

Martin Murphy, Esq. is a collaborative attorney and seasoned mediator. He is dedicated to using the principles and benefits of mediation and collaborative law in the general representation of businesses, their owners and in helping families facing divorce, child custody and other family law issues. The Law Office of Martin Murphy, LLC located in Norwood MA, serves clients in the surrounding communities including Attleboro, Canton, Foxboro, Franklin, Mansfield, Medfield, Medway, Millis, Norfolk, North Attleboro, Plainville, Sharon, Walpole, Westwood, and Wrentham., Marty can be reached at marty@martinmurphyatlaw.com

5 Things You Need To Do To Get The Most Out of Your Divorce Mediation

1. Be Flexible

Don’t begin a mediation fixated or stuck on one outcome for a particular topic. Whether it relates to the kids, the house, or the retirement accounts, flexibility can often lead to options that result in a better outcome than what you “had to have” at the beginning of the process.

2. Be Prepared

Most seasoned mediators will provide their clients with an agenda for each meeting containing a list of topics that have been agreed upon. Be ready to discuss those topics as best you possibly can. Being unprepared will often lead to a meeting that is far less productive.

3. Be Advised

While a mediator may help educate a couple on a particular topic, neutrality prevents him or her from advocating for either party. Someone going through mediation is often best served by meeting with an attorney twice: once at the beginning of the process to understand his or her rights and responsibilities and again at the end of the process to review the proposed agreement.

4. Be Proactive

Your mediation is an opportunity for you to help plan for your future. Parenting issues, the fair and reasonable division of assets, and the handling of marital liabilities may all have a very significant impact on your new life moving forward. Truly engage in the process and help set the course for your new future.

5. Be Forward-Looking

While there are many times in life to “look back.” mediation is often not one of them. While you may need to briefly speak about the past to inform the present, mediation is really about coming up with a plan for the future. You have begun the divorce process because you don’t want to keep repeating the past. Let mediation be one of the first steps away from the past and towards a brighter future.

 

While this is not an exhaustive list of approaches, if you follow these five steps you will maximize the benefits you receive from your divorce mediation. If you have a question about how these steps may help you or about mediation in general, please don’t hesitate to contact my office.

Martin Murphy, Esq. is a collaborative attorney and seasoned mediator. He is dedicated to using the principles and benefits of mediation and collaborative law in the general representation of businesses, their owners and in helping families facing divorce, child custody and other family law issues. The Law Office of Martin Murphy, LLC located in Norwood MA, serves clients in the surrounding communities including Attleboro, Canton, Foxboro, Franklin, Mansfield, Medfield, Medway, Millis, Norfolk, North Attleboro, Plainville, Sharon, Walpole, Westwood, and Wrentham., Marty can be reached at marty@martinmurphyatlaw.com

Every Minute Counts

My wife and I enjoy the HBO series called Nurse Jackie. The show stars Edie Falco who plays the role of Jackie Peyton. Jackie is a nurse who suffers from drug addiction, and the show demonstrates the impact that the addiction has on her career, on her family, and on her marriage.

 

This week’s show focused on Jackie’s response to being served papers for divorce. In one scene Jackie meets with her new divorce attorney along with her friend Dr. O’Hara. The scene takes place in a conference room with world-class views of the New York City skyline. The attorney makes a number of jokes about her $700 plus rate and how “every minute counts”

 

During the discussion Jackie is pressed to recall violent events in her marriage that were the fault of her husband. While at first refusing to acknowledge any such events, Jackie is pressed by her attorney and Dr. O’Hara to make sure she comes up with some since she, as a known drug addict, should try to elevate her position in relationship to her husband’s.

 

Jackie returns to work, and with the assistance of Dr. O’Hara recalls an instance where her husband expressed his anger in a violent way to the man with whom Jackie was having an affair.  In both scenes Jackie’s hesitation to disparage her husband may be a reflection of her concern for her two daughters and how this violent characterization of their father will affect them.

 

In the end, it is the process they have chosen that creates this stress.  Litigation is adversarial, and characterization or character assassination can often be part of the process.  In cases where only two spouses are involved, they end up being hurt, angry or frustrated.  In cases like Jackie’s where children are involved, the collateral damage can be devastating.

 

Jackie is working hard on her sobriety.  Both of the parents on the show seem to be working towards keeping the best interests of their children in focus.  Where the divorce process will go and what the detrimental impact will be to the family is yet unknown.

 

For most families going through divorce, the impacts and struggles will not end with a show or a season.  Making the best choice of divorce process will most likely impact the rest of someone’s life.  It will definitely impact the children of a marriage going through divorce.

 

Martin Murphy, Esq. is a collaborative attorney and seasoned mediator. He is dedicated to using the principles and benefits of mediation and collaborative law in the general representation of businesses, their owners and in helping families facing divorce, child custody and other family law issues.  The Law Office of Martin Murphy, LLC located in Norwood MA, serves clients in the surrounding communities including Attleboro, Canton, Foxboro, Franklin, Mansfield, Medfield, Medway, Millis, Norfolk, North Attleboro, Plainville, Sharon, Walpole, Westwood, and Wrentham., Marty can be reached at marty@martinmurphyatlaw.com

 

 

What is Convenience?

What Is Convenience?

When one Googles “Convenience of Litigation,” several sites that reference a “convenience store in litigation” are presented- that isn’t exactly what I am searching for.  However, when one Googles “Convenience of Mediation” or  “Convenience of Collaborative Law,” many sites appear that do indeed explain how mediation or Collaborative Law can be considered convenient for a client.  Why is this?  Simply put, litigation, with its delays and often inconvenient scheduling, is not typically viewed as convenient.  Mediation and Collaborative Law are positioned to provide clients the result they seek through a far more convenient process.

 

A few months ago I met a couple that came to my office for a free process presentation on a Thursday. They decided to mediate their divorce with my office, and I was able to accommodate them the following Monday evening.  On Tuesday I drafted documents and met with them Tuesday afternoon to finalize and notarize. The agreement was presented to and approved by a judge at the couple’s 1A hearing that Wednesday..   While this story and its timetable is not typical, it clearly demonstrates the potential convenience aspect of Mediation.

 

Last year, I mediated a case for a couple that lasted ten months. While this appears to be in stark contrast to the expediency of the other case, the longer mediation time was the choice for this couple.  Once we initially met and went over the parameters of the mediation, they decided that they would wait to iron out details until their house was sold. During that time we had a few meetings to cover additional matters, and once the house was sold the final agreement was crafted.  Their mediation was convenient for them because its timing met their needs and timetable.

 

In the last couple of weeks, I have completed two different mediations where one of the parties was out of state for the mediation sessions.  While I prefer to mediate in person, sometimes the logistic and financial realities require more creative solutions.  Conference calls, video conferencing and secure document sharing can assist in providing a convenient mediation format.

 

I’ve finished up a Collaborative Law case where one of the parties had a fair level of anxiety over the scheduling of the meetings and the potential impact on their profession.  The team addressed this early on and was able to devise a schedule that removed that anxiety from the equation.

 

Going through a divorce is a stressful situation in and of itself.  Convenience of the process would certainly lend itself to being less stressful.  Choosing mediation or Collaborative Law as a resolution process is a way to minimize that stress.  If you would like to learn more about the benefits of mediation and Collaborative Law, contact my office today.

 

Located in Norwood, MA, The Law Office of Martin Murphy, LLC assists clients from the surrounding areas including Attleboro, Canton, Foxboro, Franklin, Mansfield, Medfield, Medway, Millis, Norfolk, North Attleboro, Plainville, Sharon, Walpole, Westwood, and Wrentham.  Contact the office today to determine how the principles and benefits of mediation and Collaborative Law may be helpful for you.

Reducing Holiday Stress

As the holidays approach it is very easy to get caught up in the anticipation of the season.  Festive music, brightly colored decorations, and family traditions often signal a time when families come together and enjoy being with each other.

 

However, what is the impact on the family when this year the experiences will be different than in years past?  Maybe this year the kids will spend time with Mom’s family for a portion of the season, and will then perhaps travel on vacation with Dad for another part of the season. Maybe the traditional pilgrimage to Grandma’s will be forfeited so that both parents will have equal time with their children.  Even in situations when the divorce of two parents brings peace to a family unit, the holidays can still lead to stress since old traditions will most likely change with the change of the family dynamic.  That stress can be translated in subtle ways that causes the happiness of this time of year to be diminished.

 

When couples decide to divorce, one way to help ensure that future holiday happenings bring minimal stress to the family is to engage in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) rather than the traditional adversarial process of litigation.  ADR processes such as mediation and Collaborative Law focus on the future and prepare a couple to have more effective communications after the divorce is finalized.  A couple in a divorce that chooses mediation or Collaborative Law might work together to prepare a parenting plan that addresses almost all eventualities without dwelling on the past.  They are results focused and realize that when children and a family are involved, the future must be examined and planned for to insure minimal stress.

 

This year may find your family celebrating the holidays in a different way.  Just because something is different does not mean it is wrong.  A different way of celebrating, when anticipated and planned for, can bring happiness and the spirit of the season to all involved.  I wish all of you a healthy, happy holiday season.

 

The Butterfly Effect

The term The Butterfly Effect is often explained with the example of a butterfly in South America causing a severe weather event in Texas by simply flapping its wings.  A deeper examination of the definition requires one to wrap their mind around the concepts of non linear equations and chaos theory. Those subjects go somewhat beyond my expertise and the typical length of a blog posting.  However, the principal that different types of systems can be tremendously impacted by small changes in conditions relates to the type of work I do.

 

I’ve mentioned a recent MCLC presentation I attended where I had the benefit of listening to Woody Mosten speak.  During his presentation, Woody talked about preparing clients to enter the process of Agreement Building rather than negotiating.

 

Many people have negative connotations of the concept of negotiating.  While some people enjoy the typical give and take with their local car salesperson many more abhor it.  Negotiation may mean giving up something of importance now to retain something else in the future.  Many have had experiences with negotiations that just go back and forth and “never end”.

 

On the other hand, when you talk of Agreement Building, it is something that is constructive and forward thinking.  Agreement Building provides the opportunity to build something better for the future rather than just giving up something important in the present.   Parties in a divorce case or in a business transaction can all benefit from using Agreement Building.

 

I think negotiation can often be represented by the typical rope pull exercise.  The flag in the middle keeps moving back and forth until one or both parties is too tired to move on.   Negotiation can work well for many simple issues.  However, when the parties get dug in to their positions and the flag is just going back and forth, its time to consider another option.
Parties that choose mediation and Collaborative Law have the opportunity to focus on Agreement Building rather than the back and forth of negotiation.  In many cases, the pie does get bigger and all the parties end up in a better position than if they had just kept negotiating.

 

For many the shift from negotiating to Agreement Building may seem subtle.  In many cases it is.  While I won’t say that shift can cause major weather events, I have seen it provide parties with an opportunity to reach a much better agreement.

 

The Law Office of Martin Murphy, LLC is dedicated to using the principles and benefits of mediation and Collaborative Law in the general representation of businesses as well as their owners and to help families facing divorce, child custody,  and other family law issues.

Located in Norwood, MA, The Law Office of Martin Murphy, LLC assists clients from the surrounding areas including Attleboro, Canton, Foxboro, Franklin, Mansfield, Medfield, Medway, Millis, Norfolk, North Attleboro, Plainville, Sharon, Walpole, Westwood, and Wrentham.  Contact the office today to determine how the principles and benefits of mediation and Collaborative Law may be helpful for you.

 

Using Neutrals Can Put Your Alternative Dispute Resolution Process Into High Gear

I often use a phrase including the word “neutral” to describe other professionals that may be involved in an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) process I am using with my clients.  These neutrals may include financial professionals, child specialists, business coaches, business valuation specialists, and mental health professionals.

Each of these professionals is a specialist in their particular field.  What makes them “neutral” is what really makes them a valued participant in an ADR process.  Each of these neutral has participated in specialized training outside of their particular field to develop their skills as a neutral.  A trained neutral will assist both parties without taking sides and without advocating for either party.

In traditional adversarial practice, if there is a dispute over an issue outside of the law, for example a business valuation, each side typically retains their own valuation advisor.  After these two professionals complete their work, the parties in conflict go about fighting regarding which valuation was more accurate.  Sometimes, the advisors are paid to hire a third advisor to help close the “gap”.

A neutral advisor, because they are not advocating for one party or the other is freed of influence in his or her professional determination.  They bring to the table an analysis that can be relied upon by both of the parties as having been based upon the most reasonable approach possible.  The cost savings and time savings are apparent and are some of the hallmarks of using neutral professionals.

Neutral professionals can also provide tremendous benefit in an ADR process when there is an imbalance of knowledge surrounding a topic.  In this situation, the professional is providing an educational benefit to the party who is less familiar with a particular technical component of the case.  This education does not come as the result of a traditional teacher/student dynamic, but is brought about by the presentation of facts in a neutral way based on industry standards.  Interestingly, the presentation of the issue from the neutral framework can often lead the more knowledgeable party to see things from a different perspective.

In Collaborative Practice in Massachusetts we use the one coach model.  This means that the parties and their collaboratively trained attorneys select a neutral coach to work with them throughout the resolution process.  These neutral coaches are present, again, not to advocate for either party, but to help all involved stay focused on the agenda of the day and the issues at hand.

Time and time again, neutral professionals in the ADR context prove that they are a valuable component of the process.  Whether providing a reasonable approach, an educational benefit or simply keeping all the parties on their desired track, neutrals can really assist parties in reaching resolution in a timely, cost effective and confidential way.