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FAQs About Mediation to Marriage
Mediation to Stay Married (also known as Marital Mediation) is a method of helping couples who are experiencing marital problems and would prefer to stay together rather than get divorced.
How does Mediation to Stay Married work?
The couple sees a trained mediator (often but not always a practicing attorney), who uses short-term dispute resolution techniques to provide help to the couple to break impasses and permit the marriage to move forward. Mediation to Stay Married does not seek to delve deeply into the past or root psychological issues of the couples or the individuals. Through Mediation to Stay Married, the couple can develop concrete plans or modes of action that can be helpful to address their marital problems.
What is the difference between Mediation to Stay Married and marital counseling?
Marital counseling is performed by a mental health professional and involves therapeutic insights. While very useful to many couples at some times during their marriage, many times a couple finds that marital counseling does not help. Often this is for reasons having nothing to do with the skill of the marriage counselor or the integrity of the process. Mediation to Stay Married is a practical method that relies on dispute resolution techniques and legal-based knowledge. Mediation to Stay Married can sometimes help people move forward to the next step in their marriage.
Why see a lawyer/mediator for Mediation to Stay Married?
Couples can receive help from mediators who are not attorneys when experiencing marital problems. However, many marital problems flow from financial disputes and insecurities. Mediators who are practicing attorneys are often in a good position to provide concrete solutions and good advice about financial problems.
Does Mediation to Stay Married always result in a written agreement?
Sometimes yes, and sometimes no. Some couples would like a written memorialization (i.e., Postnuptial Agreement or a Memorandum of Understanding) of what they have agreed to in Mediation to Stay Married. This can be a template for them while going forward in their marriage. Some couples feel that the verbal understanding is enough and that a written agreement would be too intrusive.
Is a Postnuptial Agreement legally valid and binding in the future?
The legal status of Postnuptial Agreements is somewhat unclear. In Massachusetts, it is likely that, like a prenuptial agreement, under the correct facts and circumstances, a properly conceived and fairly written Postnuptial Agreement can be valid in case of a divorce. More importantly, the Agreement can set the couple on a path towards reconciliation and clarity over issues that are troubling them and can help prevent divorce.
What types of issues can be dealt with in Mediation to Stay Married?
Many marriages (especially more lengthy marriages) fail due to financial problems and concerns. For instance, a job loss or a bankruptcy can make a couple distrustful of each other, to the point at which the marriage is at risk. Or, an inheritance can be imminent at a time when a marriage is experiencing problems. It can also be used to heal a marriage in the case of infidelity and problems with children.
What other kinds of problems lend themselves to Mediation to Stay Married?
A couple may have gotten married without entering into a Prenuptial Agreement in a case where that type of agreement might have been very useful, such as a marriage where one or both of the parties have children from a previous marriage. A couple may have different spending habits and styles which are making them very angry at each other. Or one of the spouses may be an entrepreneurial risk-taker, while the other may be more financially conservative. Couples with these and other financially-based fact patterns can sometimes be greatly helped by Mediation to Stay Married.
Is it sometimes helpful for a married couple in trouble to get information about divorce?
Yes. Often people are completely unrealistic about divorce and what life after a divorce will be like. There are two areas of confusion - one is that a divorce will solve their problems. The other misconception is what the financial result of a divorce will be. Unfortunately, maybe people make irrevocable steps to divorce prior to getting all the facts.
What does contribution have to do with marriage?
Contribution (financial or otherwise) has everything to do with marriage, and also everything to do with divorce. If one party feels he or she is carrying the weight of responsibilities, the marriage will be detrimentally affected.
Why see an attorney/mediator rather than a mental health professional?
Utilizing Mediation to Stay Married is not a choice of one method over another. A couple in trouble should use all the resources they can. If one or both of the parties suffers from depression, addiction, or other problems, individual counseling and help is clearly indicated. Couples can also get great help from martial counselors, and if they have not been helped by a series of marital counseling sessions at one point in their marriage, they may be helped the second (or third) time they try it. Sometimes a few little kernels of knowledge gained by the couple's efforts in all directions will provide the help they need to overcome a problem that is causing their marriage to break down.
Are books on marriage useful?
Yes, definitely. Books can be obtained through searches on Amazon.com (new books) and Alibris.com (used books). It is amazing how people (especially younger people in a new marriage) throw up their hands when they encounter marriage problems. People sometimes give more attention to their hobbies than to their marriage. Just like for hobbies, the necessary skills for a successful marriage are definitely obtainable through books.
Is marriage always difficult?
Yes, marriage always has difficult times. If everyone left their marriage at tough times, there would be no lifetime marriages in existence.
Are lifetime marriages worth it?
Successful lifetime marriages have a great depth and beauty. Unlike the divorce attorney ads that are now appearing ("Life is Short, Get Divorced"), most people find that if they divorce, they just repeat their old patterns with the next spouse. Many divorced peopled have said, "If I knew then what I know now about marriage, I could have made my first marriage successful."
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Massachusetts courts can order alimony in any divorce. Courts consider a wide range of financial issues when awarding alimony, such as the length of the marriage, the conduct of the parties during the marriage, each spouse's age, health and ability to earn an income.
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