John Fiske

John Fiske

Partner in Healy, Lund and Fiske, now Healy, Fiske, Richmond, & Matthew, since September 1, 1979. From being lawyer and mediator about half and half in the beginning, I am now about 99% mediator and 1% lawyer. I also conduct mediation trainings.

My wife and I took our 3 children, ages 17, 14 and 12, out of school in June, 1978 and we bicycled through Europe and backpacked in Asia for a year, deciding in about April 1979 that when we returned to Boston I would become a divorce mediator. Back home I started  talking to judges, lawyers, therapists, ministers, teachers and anyone who would listen. People thought I was a meditator because no one knew what mediation was, back then. When I said, "I help couples sit and talk and listen to each other and get divorced peacefully," the almost universal response was "That makes so much sense."  Harvard Law School Professor Frank Sander said, "You are riding the crest of a wave, but don't give up your day job."

A Massachusetts probate judge, the late Sheila McGovern, recommended I join the law firm of Healy and Lund. Regina Healy and Diane Lund did what she said, and they changed the name of the firm to Healy, Lund and Fiske. They taught me family law and I taught them mediation. Probate Judge Edward M. Ginsburg believed in the process and sent cases to me. My first mediation began with the wife addressing her husband, their two lawyers and me: "We understand we are some sort of experiment!"

After two years of mediating divorces I had my first mediation training when John Haynes and Steve Erickson came to Worcester. Then Margaret Shaw joined with the Mass. Bar Association in 1985 to provide more divorce mediation training, and Chris Moore did the same in 1987. Diane Neumann, Phil Woodbury and I founded Divorce Mediation Training Associates in 1988 and we have been training people in divorce mediation ever since.  

I have probably mediated about 2,000 divorces, separations and contracts to stay married since 1979. In response to requests from families I have expanded my mediation practice to include a broad range of disputes, from siblings trying to decide questions of care of a relative to a father and son reaching a financial agreement. I have volunteered my services as a mediator to my town government: in one case I helped to resolve a dispute between citizens and a town official. The point: mediation is a creative, efficient process for addressing  human conflict. You get a place to talk. You stay in charge of your life.

Contact John Fiske

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Articles and Video:

Don’t Dread Divorces this December (10/30/18)
Thanks to the 2017 federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, (“TCAJA”), divorce lawyers and mediators know that December will be a busy time and some of us may be working right up to the close of the courthouse on Monday, December 31st.

For Those Feeling Generous: A Gift for Clients, Friends - Book Review (07/13/18)
I love this book. It reminds us that we can take family law problems to another level, one not taught in law schools: generosity.

Bargaining in the Light of the Law: The Case of Divorce (07/28/17)
By now, in 2017, divorce law has become clear and often even predictable.

The Financially Smart Divorce Book Review (02/17/17)
Divorce mediators can greatly benefit from reading and having readily on hand this new book by a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst who understands that divorce should be a planning process.

From John Fiske (10/14/13) is a friendly host,
Without them, my website's toast.
Clients learn from
How to remove a lot of risk.
And I learn from Jim and team
How to sew without a seam
And keep my clients on the beam.

The Mediator Confronts Fear (08/02/13)
When Hamlet says at the very end of the play, “The readiness is all,” he could be talking about our clients and ourselves. In a voluntary process such as mediation, no one should be agreeing to anything before he or she is ready. Only after they have found the cause of their fear and worked through it will be their ready to commit to an agreement.

From John Fiske (10/11/11)
400th issue. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. is a great clearing house. helps us to form meaningful cohesion with a mediation community all over the world., in each issue, offers an insight into a problem arising in at least one of my myriad divorce mediations. offers me a chance to write about a particular feature of divorce mediation that I think is of general interest. When I expanded my practice to include mediation to help married couples stay together, was one of many great soapboxes. Thank you Jim, Josh and many others who bring some guidance and structure to our profession.

Marital Agreements Upheld in Massachusetts (07/18/10)
The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts on July 16, 2010 answered in Ansin v. Craven-Ansin the long-deferred question of whether a marital agreement should be recognized. The answer is "yes." Their reasoning centers around the spouses’ freedom to contract, "permitting the parties to arrange their financial affairs as they best see fit.”

A Great Weight Can Be Lifted: Another Advantage Of Marital Mediation (01/04/10)
This article focuses on the benefits of marital mediation as an alternative to trying to deal with “Antenuptial Agreements” presented to you two weeks before the wedding during the Christmas holidays!

Marital Mediation: An Emerging Area Of Practice (05/18/09)
This article describes the process of “Marital Mediation” as a relatively new field of family mediation, designed to keep couples together using established family mediation techniques. Previously many of these techniques were used solely in divorce mediation. We begin by describing what the process involves, how it differs from both couples counseling and divorce mediation, and why we believe it often works for couples when counseling has not. We also discuss suggestions for promoting the development of Marital Mediation using both research and marketing techniques.

Marital Mediation For Family Mediators (04/07/09)
If you are a family mediator, you might expand your practice to offer mediation to help couples stay married. The process, called “marital mediation,” uses the specific settlement focus of mediation to preserve a marriage in ways not attempted by family therapy. The process uses your family mediation skills to help couples negotiate new terms for their marriage. Couples may use mediation to enter into a written post-marital contract defining their own solutions.