Why work with us to solve your Massachusetts divorce and family law issues?

100% Focused on Resolving Massachusetts Divorce & Family Law Matters

Divorce and family law are what we do at Next Phase Legal & Dispute Resolution. While many firms and attorneys divide their attention between different practice areas, we do not. Furthermore, even within the area of family law, we focus on alternatives to expensive litigation whenever possible.

Transparent Pricing Options Designed to Provide Solutions, Not Just Track Minutes.

Perhaps the biggest problem with hourly billing is a lack of fee certainty. If you cannot keep up with your legal fees and retainer replenishments, then what? Is it not better to know up front what something will cost? Most of our clients think so.

Our project-based approach and fixed-fee options (available for most cases) clearly explain the scope of our work and your fee so you can make smart choices, instead of being stuck on a roller-coaster ride of hourly billing that can feel like it may never end

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Initial Consultation

Your initial consultation is scheduled for one hour and the $250.00 fee is collected at the time of scheduling. For new mediation clients, we suggest both participants attend the consultation. All consultations are also available by videoconference. To read more about initial consultations, please click here.

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Fixed Fees

Hourly billing can reward inefficiency, may induce stress for you and your attorney or mediator if expectations become misaligned, and includes a lack of fee-certainty. Fixed fees align our interests with your own, and there are no surprises.

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Subscription Services - Pay As You Go

Some of our work may last for longer periods, or not have a clearly determined end-date. Examples include parenting coordination and parent coaching services, and some of our work designed to help those desiring to handle some or most parts of their case on their own (limited assistance representation). We understand it is not always easy to come up with a large retainer payment.

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Hourly Billing

Although we do not think this is the best option for most situations, hourly billing has a place in some situations. Our rates for 2021 are $400.00/hour for Attorney and Mediator Stephen McDonough; and support staff is billed at $135.00/hour. You should not hire a professional based on their hourly rate; it is just one factor. Trying to do an “apples to apples” comparison is impossible due to many variables. Hiring a professional with a higher hourly rate does not automatically mean you will spend more money by the time your matter is concluded.

Smart Alternatives to the Contested, Court-Based Approach

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Few divorce cases in Massachusetts are tried, with over 90% of cases resolving through settlement negotiations – it can just take a long time and a lot of legal fees to get there. The attorney you consulted with last week may not offer mediation or other options.

Someone may try and make you feel nervous or vulnerable that you will not get a fair deal unless you hire a “shark.” Understandably, some trial lawyers are distrustful of mediation after reviewing poorly crafted Separation Agreements, or when financial disclosures were absent. Some cases will require a court-based approach. If that seems to be the case, that is what we will tell you.

Service +Technology = Better Client Experience:

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Few divorce cases in Massachusetts are tried, with over 90% of cases resolving through settlement negotiations – it can just take a long time and a lot of legal fees to get there. The attorney you consulted with last week may not offer mediation or other options.

Someone may try and make you feel nervous or vulnerable that you will not get a fair deal unless you hire a “shark.” Understandably, some trial lawyers are distrustful of mediation after reviewing poorly crafted Separation Agreements, or when financial disclosures were absent. Some cases will require a court-based approach. If that seems to be the case, that is what we will tell you.

The Experience, Knowledge, & Advanced Certification to Get the Job Done

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Did you know that someone can be a divorce or family mediator in Massachusetts without being a lawyer or having any degree whatsoever? Are you surprised to learn that no Massachusetts governmental body certifies or licenses mediators?

Court rules and statutory provisions exist requiring thirty hours of training to receive confidentiality protections under Mass. Gen. Law Chapter 233 Section 23C, and to receive court referrals for mediation, but this does not “certify” a mediator - yet mediators claim to be certified because they completed this basic course all of the time. There are no ongoing training requirements, and nothing requires a mediator to have demonstrated knowledge about family law, family finances, complex parenting circumstances, etc. Interestingly, lawyers in Massachusetts do not have continuing education requirements, either.

In Massachusetts, the MA Council on Family Mediation has a stringent certification process, requiring an additional 60 hours of training in a variety of topics (ranging from divorce-related financial issues to parenting plans), a minimum of 100 hours of mediation experience, the submission of three Separation Agreements (Memoranda of Understanding for non-lawyer mediators) for peer review, and an advanced degree or equivalent experience. Those recertifying must complete at least 20 hours of ongoing training every two years.

Although hundreds of divorce and family mediators exist in MA, less than 30 mediators at the time of this writing have met the requirements of this program. Thus, when you are interviewing “certified” mediators, you should inquire further into their certification, ask what organization has certified them, and additional questions about their training and experience.

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Stephen
McDonough, Esq.

Attorney Stephen McDonough maintains a mediator certification through MCFM. He has successfully mediated and hundreds of divorces and other family law conflicts, including high-conflict situations that seemed far from settlement.

Stephen is also a trained collaborative law practitioner and has met the more stringent requirements to be a court-approved parenting coordinator.