In addition to mediation, arbitration and collaborative law, BLC provides the following dispute resolution services.
BLC Founder David Hoffman is a trained, experienced case evaluator. He has served on the case evaluation panels of the Massachusetts Office of Dispute Resolution (MODR) and the Middlesex Multi-Door Courthouse, and has served as a trainer for the MODR case evaluation program.
In case evaluation, the parties have an opportunity to present their case to the case evaluator in writing and also in an in-person presentation. The form of evaluation that David generally provides is a brief written opinion with a risk analysis chart illustrating the reasoning of the opinion. (For a sample of the risk analysis software that BLC uses for such illustrations, visit www.treeage.com.) In some disputes, case evaluation is provided less formally – e.g., in connection with a mediation case if the parties have reached an impasse.
Guardian ad Litem
A guardian ad litem (GAL) is an objective professional appointed by a court to report on and advise the court on matters relating to a minor or a person who needs the protection of the court (such as an elderly or incompetent individual). GALs play a particularly important role in divorce and post-divorce cases where child custody and visitation issues are at issue. It is unusual in highly contested child custody cases for a court not to appoint a GAL, and, if the GAL is experienced and capable, the decision of the GAL is more often than not adopted by the court. GALs are usually mental health professionals or lawyers.
BLC affiliate Dr. Richard Wolman has often served as a GAL and has directed and published research on the impact of custody disputes on children.
To read a GAL sample case study, click here.
A parenting coordinator is an impartial individual, usually someone with experience both as a mediator and in child custody matters, who is designated by the parties or appointed by the court to assist the parties in reaching agreement about child-related issues arising during or after divorce. In some circumstances, the parenting coordinator is given the authority to make binding decisions (subject to court review) concerning parenting issues if the parties cannot reach agreement.
BLC affiliate Dr. Richard Wolman and BLC Member David Hoffman frequently serve as parenting coordinators. Richard has directed and published research on the impact of custody disputes on children, and Vicki serves on the Board of Directors of the Massachusetts Association of Guardians Ad Litem.
To read a Parenting Coordinator sample case study, click here.
For a glossary of dispute resolution terms, click here.