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Over 500 Cases Mediated through, “The Mediation Project”

MWI is proud to announce that we have mediated over 500 cases at the Norfolk Probate and Family Court in Canton, MA, through “The Mediation Project”.

The Mediation Project started in September of 2013 as a joint program between the Court and MWI in which on-site mediation services are provided to the Court at no cost to the Court or its litigants. Chief Probation Officer, Donna Feinberg thought to create this program due to staff shortages and to provide the Court with another option for resolving cases. She then contacted Josh Hoch, Director of Mediation Services at MWI, to collaborate as MWI has been a long time approved-provider of mediation services for the Probate and Family Court. Five years later, over 500 cases have been mediated.

divorce mediationThe Mediation Project benefits the Court and its litigants by providing education about mediation and by conducting a confidential on-site mediation service at no cost. It also benefits the Massachusetts mediation community by providing trained mediators with the opportunity to:

  • Refine family mediation skills;
  • Receive mentoring from experienced mediators and mentors;
  • Learn through co-mediating, observing (court and mediations) and debriefing;
  • Obtain experience drafting agreements that are enforceable by the Court;
  • Volunteer and give back.

MWI currently has 17 active mediators and mentors participating, including: Laurie Antone, John Berke, Rodney Dowell, Kimberly Gravina, Nancy Grundman, Dave Hobbs, Helen Koroniades, Kathleen Leedy, Charles Levy, Polly Titcomb, Kajy Vincinelli, and Marianna Yang.

Past and current mentors include: Sheila Cizauskas, Jody Comins, Denise Earl, John Fiske, Carmel Gurucharri, Nnena Odim, Vicki Shemin, and Kim Whelan.

Most parties who participated in mediation thus far have reported that the mediators:

  • Remained neutral and impartial;
  • Helped them to identify and clarify relevant issues;
  • Allowed them to talk about their issues and needs;
  • Treated them with respect.

And almost all who have participated said they would you recommend this mediation program to others.

The Mediation Project strives to empower people and provide them with a voice and an outlet to ask for what they want and have someone listen with reduced court involvement. The Project aims to help parties focus not only on their individual interests but the best interests of their children, if they have any. Helping people make self-determined outcomes makes them feel strong and satisfied with the agreement reached. Research shows that parties who created their own agreement through mediation are more likely to adhere to that agreement.

The types of cases that have been mediated through The Mediation Project include: divorce, paternity, modification of child support, alimony, medical insurance coverage for a former spouse, college costs, separation agreements, parenting plans, and grandparent visitation. After mediation, participants complete an evaluation form and most indicate that the mediators helped by:

  • Settling/improving one or more of the issues;
  • Improving communication between the parties;
  • Reducing conflict between the parties, and;
  • Reducing court involvement.

norfolk mediationWe are proud to announce that 82% of the cases mediated through The Mediation Project reached an agreement. This can only be attributed to the parties willingness to try mediation, the Court staff for referring cases to mediators and to our well trained and talented mediators who work hard to provide people with an opportunity to participate in mediation.

MWI wishes to thank all those who have helped shape this program and who play an active role in keeping it going, including:

  • Norfolk Probate and Family Court staff:
    • Donna Feinberg, CPO
    • Assistant Judicial Case Managers
    • Sessions Clerks
    • Probation Officers
    • Judicial Secretaries; and the
    • Court Officers
  • Norfolk Probate and Family Court Judges:
    • Hon. Patricia A. Gorman, First Justice
    • Judge Cronan
    • Judge Peterson
    • Judge Phelan
  • A special thank you to:
    • Chief Justice of the Trial Court Department, Hon. Paula Carey
    • Probate and Family Court Department Chief Justice, Hon. John D. Casey
    • Christine Yurgelun, Esq.
    • Timothy J. Linnehan, Esq.
    • ADR Probate and Family Court Steering Committee
    • The Dispute Resolution Standing Committee Members

Providing services to the Court does not happen without each of the people named above. MWI is grateful to all those who have helped shape this program and to all those who have participated in one way or another. We look forward to mediating another 500 cases!

The Mediation Project is open to any mediator or agency that can meet the requirements of the program. For more information about The Mediation Project at the Norfolk Probate and Family Court, contact Josh Hoch at 617-895-4028.