July 14, 2020
In our “Meet a Divorce Mediator” blog series, we interview MWI’s top divorce mediators to learn more about their work in the field and their experiences.
This week, Denise Earl tells us about her work as a mediator, court coordinator, community meeting facilitator, case manager, and investigator for a number of non-profit organizations and in state government.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology, Denise worked in human services. Quickly developing a devotion for helping people, Denise worked in what is now DCF where she served as an ongoing worker and investigated child abuse and neglect cases. While raising her children, Denise turned her focus to volunteer work. Among those endeavors, she ran volunteer programs in schools, served on the board of directors at a local food pantry, and assisted various cultural connection programs. Later, after enrolling in a few classes on mediation, Denise discovered her new path. She earned her master’s degree in conflict resolution at the University of Massachusetts Boston. She has advanced training in divorce and elder mediation, in housing and small claims proceedings, and as a conflict coach.
Denise is a divorce and housing mediator with MWI. She has helped hundreds of people resolve divorce, parenting, elder care, family, and housing disputes. Eager to share her knowledge and experience, Denise also serves as a mentor to new mediators.
What challenging aspects of divorce can you be most helpful with?
During mediations, I value connecting with people. I aim to make participants feel heard. There is life after divorce. Further, I recognize that mediation is not an exact science; divorce especially is not one size fits all. This is why my experience is one of the greatest strengths I provide during mediation. I know that every case is unique and deserves different insights.
What led you to become a mediator?
After raising my children, I contemplated my next path. From my work and volunteer experience I knew that I wanted a career where I could continue to help and serve people. After taking two classes in mediation I knew that I found my place. Since earning my masters in conflict resolution, I have been mediating. It truly is the greatest feeling to help people move on with self-determination. Further, I believe that mediation is great because I have observed that there is no clear path people take to become a mediator. Every mediator has a unique set of skills and a differing career past, which makes mediation so valuable.
What would you say are the benefits from divorce mediation?
In mediation, participants’ autonomy remains. As mentioned earlier, since, every case is so unique, I believe that the people involved should have the power to make their own decisions since they know their situations best. I encourage participants to discover what is best suited for their family in mediation. With the mediation process, participants have their dignity and autonomy more than in litigation.
How would you tell people to prepare for the mediation process?
My biggest piece of advice for mediation participants is to go into mediation ready to compromise. Know that no one will walk away with everything. Know your priorities and be open and ready to compromise on certain things. When children are involved, it is important to acknowledge that both parties love their children and that the welfare of the children is of the upmost importance.
When and where are you available to provide services?
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought online collaboration into the mainstream. We have learned that meeting with clients via online tools such as Zoom is an effective tool for helping people resolve disputes.