Selecting the right mediator is an important decision. Mark has over 25 years of experience in family law. He is a partner at the nationally recognized family law firm of Atwood & Cherny, P.C. in Boston, Massachusetts where he combines his years of experience as a divorce lawyer with his training and skills as a mediator.
Mark knows from experience that most family law matters are better addressed in mediation as opposed to litigation. “Mediation provides a private, confidential setting where parties can set their own agenda. This can reduce the tension and anxiety that accompanies divorce, while allowing parties to explore and develop settlement options with the assistance of a neutral who is there to help both of them,” states Mark.
Mark assists the parties to identify issues, develop proposals, negotiate and communicate with one another. He also helps parties recognize and address emotional issues that may be a roadblock to resolution. Even if mediation does not result in an overall agreement, the process oftentimes proves useful in limiting the issues and reducing emotional turmoil between the parties.
As a divorce mediator, Mark serves as a “neutral.” Bothclients hire Mark as theirmediator, not as their lawyer. Each party is strongly encouraged to obtain their own mediation-orientated lawyer to serve as an advisor. Both parties sign a mediation agreement which provides that the mediation process is confidential, voluntary and that each party is free to terminate the mediation at any time.
“Mediation requires an honest commitment by bothparties to the process, including full disclosure of all income, assets and liabilities and negotiating in good faith to reach an agreement,” states Mark.
The goal is for the parties to walk away with an agreement. If requested to do so, Mark prepares and files the agreement and other documents necessary to obtain a divorce or modification of an existing agreement.
Mediated agreements are not perfect and mediation is not right for every situation. However, experience shows that clients’ commitment to their agreements and the process that got them to communicate and agree is typically quite high. If problems arise in the future, parties are more likely to use mediation again to reach agreement.
Mark brings a high level of sophistication to the mediation process. He has an ability to develop a rapport with people and gain their trust and confidence while maintaining his neutrality. His personality and temperament are often cited by parties and lawyers as natural attributes which make him an effective mediator.
He is frequently selected by judges to act as a court appointed “conciliator” to assist parties and their lawyers settle their matter before it goes to trial. He has been appointed by two Chief Justices of the Probate & Family Court to task forces and pilot projects designed to allow parties to elect to participate in facilitated settlement conferences and to develop new court procedures for parties to opt out of litigation and to utilize the court in a different way to achieve early intervention and resolution of their matters.
Whether as a mediator, conciliator or evaluator, Mark has a demonstrated ability to assist people in getting to “yes.”
“Mark Smith announcing his family mediation practice adds a robust presence and listening skills to the growing trend in Massachusetts to use mediation for many cooperative and economical divorce settlements. He has innate abilities to remain neutral and connect with both clients at the same time, key ingredients of good mediation. An experienced divorce lawyer, Mark also knows the likely court outcome and the role of common sense in closing an enduring agreement.”
John A. Fiske, Esquire, Divorce Mediation Training Associates
“I have had the pleasure of dealing with Mark in both his capacity as a conciliator and on the other side of highly contested cases. He was always well-prepared, knowledgeable and understood what was driving the contested issues. Armed with that perspective, Mark can assist couples to focus on their shared interests and develop a resolution that takes those issues into account.”
An Attorney working with Mark in Mediation
“I had a case that needed careful analysis and thought. Although opposing counsel and I could not agree on much, we were able to agree on Mark as our arbitrator. He efficiently dealt with this matter and after a pre-trial conference with the parties and counsel was able to provide useful feedback that allowed the parties to resolve their issues without a trial.”
An Attorney working with Mark in the arbitration process
“Thank you for all of your help and guidance through this very difficult time in my life. You are a very compassionate and caring person and I truly appreciate your honesty. (
A Mediation Client
“Thank you and your great staff for assisting my wife and me through this process. Not exactly the proudest moment in my life, however your kindness was certainly appreciated.”
A Mediation Client