The First Step: Finding A Mediator

This is part 1 of a 7 part interview with Massachusetts divorce mediator Tracy Fischer acknowledging that divorce can be challenging for women, our panel of experts offers practical tips on navigating financial concerns, keeping emotions in check and rediscovering themselves. [watch video]

Jenine G.:                            Thank you for joining us today for our webinar series, Your Time is an Asset. My name is Jenine Garrelick, and I’m a senior managing director here at MFS. We created Your Time is an Asset for one purpose in mind, and that is to provide a forum to bring up unique topics that many women face out there. The topic today, unfortunately, isn’t so unique to individuals out there, divorce. Unfortunately, about half of all couples that enter a marriage will end up in divorce. Now, what I find extremely interesting is that Hallmark, which has totally captured majority of the greeting card industry, does not have one greeting card when addressing divorce. They have every life event out there, except for this one.

Jenine G.:                            Now, my question to all of you is when do you really need those words of wisdom? Is it when you turn eight? Or is it when you’re going through a divorce? Which is why I’m so excited to have my friends here, my panelists, Lori and Tracy, to help address some words of wisdom to all of you out there who are thinking about going through this. So, Lori and Tracy, would you mind giving an introduction of who you are?

Lori Hubbard:                    My name is Lori Hubbard. I’ve actually been at MFS for about six years. I’m a manager on the internal sales desk. And then I’ve also been part of the ongoing initiative to help educate financial advisors and their clients when it comes to the unique challenges that women face financially today.

Tracy Fischer:                     My name is Tracy Fischer. I’m an attorney and a certified divorce mediator. I’ve been practicing divorce and family mediation for almost 30 years. I truly believe in this process. I limit my practice to all kinds of negotiation, working with people who are in divorce mediation with other mediators, but I do not do adversarial divorce, because I really believe mediation works better.

Jenine G.:                            That’s great. Now, you guys have a very special relationship.

Lori Hubbard:                    We do, yes. Tracy happens to be the wonderful mediator that I used for my divorce.

Jenine G.:                            How did you find Tracy?

Lori Hubbard:                    Talking to my ex-husband, we were able to plan out how we wanted to go through our divorce. We started doing research based on what we wanted, and so we came across Tracy’s website, actually.

Jenine G.:                            So, your research meant Google?

Lori Hubbard:                    Yeah. I wanted to kind of beef it up a little bit. It was Google. We googled mediator and we found Tracy’s website. It had her picture. It also had a wealth of information on there that makes you feel a little more equipped when you’re going through this process.  We reached out to Tracy, met with her, knew that she was going to be a good fit for the process that we were going through.

Jenine G.:                            That’s great. Congratulations. You’re very special to this woman’s life. So, let’s start off with our first question. My expertise on this topic is that I’ve been through it two times, so don’t follow my lead when it comes to romance. However, one of the biggest challenges when someone is going through a divorce is when they realize that’s the action they want to take.  Lori, can you walk us through when you figured out that you wanted to take that step?

Lori Hubbard:                    Yeah. I think everyone’s situation is very, very different. When it came to my personal situation, it was something that I knew for a really long time, but I actually didn’t stay anything for a while. I think it’s scary. It’s confusing, and you’re also facing the finality of a marriage, whether it’s good or bad. It’s the final part of the marriage. So, when I finally got the nerve to talk to my now ex -husband, I quickly learned that we were in the exact same spot, which made the decisions easier. It was as if a huge weight was lifted off our shoulders because of that, which then  enabled us to be able to talk about our divorce and plan it out, and plan what we wanted. We wanted to be amicable. We wanted a quick process. And we also wanted something that wasn’t going to break the bank. Talking to each other enabled us to do that.

Jenine G.:                            So, it sounds like Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin, they were not the first couple to define conscious uncoupling. It seems that you defined that. So, Tracy, you’ve seen many couples come to this decision, what advice would you give someone who’s thinking about it?

Tracy Fischer:                     I would say the first thing is to start thinking about talking to your spouse about it. It’s really hard to bring up, but it’s better for the other person to have some idea of what’s going on in your head, even to seek out therapy to get help in having this discussion. Maybe marital counseling to have the conversation with a person in the room who can help you go through it. The person who makes the decision may be thinking about it for a long time and they’re ready to go, but if the other person is surprised then it’s going to make the process a lot slower. I think talking to a therapist is really important.