Is Mediation Confidential?
Massachusetts has one of the most thorough and long-standing public records in the country. Most court records are public record, meaning the public can access them. Matters of public record, such as birth, death, and marriage records, are recorded and submitted to the state vital record registry. Some information about your divorce may no longer be confidential once entered with the court. You may be wondering if there is anything you can do to make sure your divorce information is confidential. Divorce proceedings can reveal a lot of personal information, and most people don’t want to expose that kind of information to the public. Divorce mediation is more confidential than divorce litigation because by its very nature it minimizes the number of filings you must submit to the court.
Information exchanged during mediation is also protected under law. Any communication or work products produced during mediation with a qualified mediator are and will remain confidential. Even if your mediation is unsuccessful and you wish to engage in litigation, communication and work products produced by your mediation are not subject to disclosure.
Both spouses must sign a participation agreement before commencing mediation to enact this protection. This agreement requires each party maintain the confidentiality of the information exchanged during mediation. Most mediators agree full confidentiality is a vital part of the mediation process. The confidential nature of mediation can create a space where both spouses can feel comfortable being open and honest. Your separation agreement, the final end product of your mediation, is a contract and does not necessarily need to be filed with the court. It can be merged with your divorce decree, however, for a judge to approve it. Doing this grants you certain rights and protections regarding modifying it in the future.
Certain documents with personal information can be sealed when you file them with the court. Sealing them means the public cannot access it. Documents typically sealed include such information as your social security number, bank account information, healthcare records for you and your child, or information about domestic violence. It will be up to you to file a motion to have specific records sealed. Speak with an experienced divorce mediator about confidentiality and mediation. He or she can help you make a decision about how to execute your divorce in a way that ensures confidentiality and preserves your peace of mind.
Do you have questions about confidentiality and divorce?
Mediation Advantage Services can help. Experienced in divorce mediation, Polly A. Tatum can help ensure your personal information is confidential, helping preserve your peace of mind. Based in historic Worcester with a satellite office in Northboro, MA, our firm serves all cities and towns throughout Massachusetts and Worcester County including, Auburn, Paxton, Leicester, Sutton, Grafton, Shrewsbury, Westboro, Northboro, Southboro, Holden, Sterling, Princeton, Worcester, Charlton, Millbury, Dudley, Spencer, Brookfield, Sudbury, Natick, Framingham, Hopkinton, Milford, Blackstone, Leominster, Fitchburg, Acton, Jefferson, Barre, Oakham, Cambridge, Newton, Marlboro, Lancaster, Bolton, and Hudson. Call our office at (508) 795-1557, fill out our online form, or email us at [email protected] today to schedule your Complimentary Mediation Success Planning Session. You can also sign up for our eNewsletter or download our free e-book for more information regarding divorce in Massachusetts.