Laurie Israel

Laurie Israel

Laurie Israel is an attorney, consultant, and mediator, concentrating her practice on both prenuptial and postnuptial agreements. She works as a consultant and mediator nationwide. She previously practiced for 35 years in the areas of tax law, divorce, collaborative law, estate planning, probate of estates and trust administration, as well as mediation and, in Massachusetts, providing counsel for couples entering into prenuptial agreements. Laurie is one of the initial practitioners and developers of the field of marital mediation, the practice of using mediation to help couples solve marital problems and improve their marriages. Laurie is a former board member of the Massachusetts Council on Family Mediation and the Massachusetts Collaborative Law Council. Her writings include articles on divorce, mediation, marital mediation, and prenuptial agreements. You can find her articles on, Huffington Post, and She is the author of the book “The Generous Prenup: How to Support Your Marriage and Avoid the Pitfalls,” available on Amazon. Laurie is frequently called upon by attorneys and mediators to share her expertise, through giving both formal and informal presentations, on the subject of prenuptial agreements all across the country. You can contact Laurie at Her website is

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Articles and Video:

The Art of the Term Sheet (05/16/22)
Have you ever had the experience when working on a matter with a client where you are sent, at the outset, a complete multi-page agreement by counsel of the other party? And then you see revision after revision?

Learning from Every Mediation (08/10/21)
I have been mediating for over twenty-five years. During this time, I have had many different experiences with clients, including the good and the bad.

The Choreography of Mediation (05/08/21)
I’ve always thought of mediation as a process more akin to art than to science.

Bearing Witness in Mediation (08/28/20)
Recently I’ve been pondering a certain aspect of my experience with mediating divorces. It’s about something that often comes up in my encounters with my mediation clients.

Why Retainers are Important to the Mediation Process (07/12/19)
For most mediations, having the financial relationship between the mediator and the clients prepaid through a retainer can be a very strong impetus towards making the mediation process stronger and more effective.

Mediator as Judge (11/01/18)
When trained as a mediator, the first thing I learned was that mediation is a client-driven process.

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.

Why I wrote “The Generous Prenup: How to Support Your Marriage and Avoid the Pitfalls” (05/03/18)
Why I wrote “The Generous Prenup: How to Support Your Marriage and Avoid the Pitfalls”

Does Your Practice Include Church and Synagogue Mediation? (04/20/18)
Within the church or synagogue setting, mediation can be very useful if individuals or groups are having disputes or differences of opinion.

How to Mediate a Prenuptial Agreement (06/14/17)
Marriages can be damaged by a destructive prenup or by a harsh prenup negotiation process.

Underwood Family Values – A Template for a Marriage (06/10/16)
The Underwoods, the main characters in the show House of Cards, have been married a long time when we meet them - 26 years - as the series begins. They seem to be a very solid two-person unit, that have things to teach us about balancing personal fulfillment and commitment to the marriage.

10 Things I Hate About Prenuptial Agreements (02/21/16)
Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for prenuptial agreements in second marriages, especially where there are children of the first marriage. But many of the prenuptial agreements I see are for first marriages and are unfair, badly conceived, and very destructive.

Where Does Marital Mediation Fit In? (03/02/15)
During the past quarter century, academics and others writing about mediation have characterized styles of mediation as belonging to one of three categories: “facilitative,” “evaluative,” and “transformative”. The categories are quite clearly defined.

Is Mediating Prenups a Form of Marital Mediation? (09/19/14)
I have been noticing a trend in my practice lately: the first draft of prenuptial agreements generally sketched out a marriage with no guaranteed financial interplay.

Mediator as Truthsayer (12/20/13)
Mediation is not one monolithic technique. Mediators and mediation theorists may categorize different types of mediation techniques into different theoretical boxes, such as “facilitative”, “evaluative” and “transformational”. But the categories all seem to bleed into each other.

Eliminating “Hot Speech” in Marriage (11/04/13)
Anger is not a good thing. It’s not a good way to solve problems. By taking a timeout, you can become calm. You are no longer in “real” time. Emotions abate.

Infidelity and Family Mediation (06/24/13)
Spouses fear infidelity, and for good reason.  They see other marriages dissolve as a result of it.  Infidelity seems to always have the effect of a fire – uncontrollable and unpredictable.  It often destroys a marriage.  But does it have to?

Reframing the Seven Deadly Sins (03/15/13)
As mediators, we learn to “reframe” issues. This mediator asks if it's possible to even reframe the seemingly unreframeable: The Seven Deadly Sins.

Why Prenups Are Bad For Your Marital Health (10/06/12)
Selfishness kills a marriage.  Generosity makes it thrive.  Your mediator can help you discover options that will protect that generosity without a prenup, or show you how to make the prenup less restrictive. 

The Secret Language Divorce Lawyers Speak (04/23/12)
Lawyers often use idioms rather than legal terms to explain concepts and strategies in divorce law to our clients. Somehow, these idiomatic terms are more descriptive and powerful in describing the dynamics and techniques that are present in a divorce than any other type of language.

Prenups – Don’t Lawyer Up, Mediate! (02/01/12)
Prenup articles typically talk about how resolving and clarifying money issues prior to marriage is a good thing.   However, they do not take into account the very important component of most good marriages: the sharing of money and resources.  So prenups aren't necessarily the best thing since sliced bread -- they can pose many problems for the future spouses.

“Happy Wife, Happy Life” and Mediation (07/05/10)
Did you ever hear the expression “Happy Wife, Happy Life”? This overused adage seems to help some people (generally husbands) focus on their wife’s happiness in order to secure a peaceful, happy marriage. Surprisingly, the concept may have some academic support.

Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind And Mediation (03/15/10)
At the beginning of each mediation, there is a moment of suspense. The mediator does not know the parties’ stories. Yes, there are two stories, because each client has a separate and distinct version of reality. Then the stories begin to be told.

To Caucus Or Not To Caucus – That Is The Question (01/10/10)
I have served clients in mediation in many roles -- as mediator, as reviewing attorney, as client’s attorney in the background, and as client’s advocating attorney at mediation sessions. I have seen a great range of use of caucusing by mediators (including myself), sometimes related to a mediator’s style or the mediator’s theoretical model of what mediation should be, sometimes relating to the particular facts of a case and needs of the clients.

Governor Sanford – Give Marital Mediation a Try! (07/07/09)
Like many mediators, I am pained to read accounts of celebrity brethren who struggle with their marriages. The media is insistent. The lights are glaring. Celebrities experience their marital problems under a microscope of public view. Yet, the problems they face are the same as many clients. The big issues are infidelity, money, perceptions of lack of contribution, boredom, lack of respect, spending no time together, and issues raised by children and in-law families. Divorce is not the inevitable end. Governor Sanford, I encourage you and your wife to give Marital Mediation a try!

When Divorce Means Re-Entering The Job Market (06/01/09)
In working with divorcing couples, reemployment of an “at-home” spouse is a recurring theme. This is usually (but not always) the wife, who needs to enter the job market after the divorce. An analysis of the finances of a divorce case generally leads to the stark truth that the family unit (now divided into two households) cannot live on the earned income that was being brought into the household prior to the divorce.

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.

What Collaborative Counsel Does For The Collaborative Client (03/02/09)
Collaborative law is a form of alternative dispute resolution for divorcing couples who prefer not to endure litigation, but desire vigorous legal representation. One of the first issues of concern for every potential Collaborative Law client is whether the attorney will serve as a strong advocate for that client.

5 Realities About Prenuptial Agreements -- Why Having One May Be a Bad Choice for Your Marriage (11/24/08)
Recently many articles have been appearing on the internet extolling the virtues of entering into a prenuptial or premarital agreement prior to your marriage. I offer the following reflections from my practice of law and work as a mediator to strongly counter the idea that prenuptial agreements have no “cost” and provide only benefit to a marrying couple.

Contemplating My Navel and Conflict Resolution (09/14/08)
At my age, I find my thoughts wandering backwards in time, with long-lost memories bubbling up occasionally. I ponder these memories and cherish them. I parse them for meaning, like dreams in the night remembered suddenly the next day, with a jolt of recognition into their inner meaning.

No News Is Good News – Opting Out of Daily Mass News Media (04/07/08)
I admit it. I was a newspaper addict. A three-paper-a-day addict. Mornings before leaving for work, there was the Boston Globe, followed by The New York Times. These took an hour of my time. Then after work, the local afternoon daily, The Patriot Ledger. Mine was a seven-day-a-week habit, with Sunday mornings spent luxuriating in the extra time to peruse my Sunday papers.

Collaborative Law – The Magic of Counterpart Counsel (11/26/07)
At some point during a divorce process, everyone meets -- there is a four-way meeting of the divorcing parties and their attorneys. In a litigated case, the first in-person four-way meeting might be at a court hearing on a motion, or at the pre-trial conference with the judge. This meeting might occur after many negative experiences with the opposing side. These include depositions, discovery of documents, letters by opposing counsel (forwarded by a party’s own counsel) and reports of negotiations between counsel and/or demands and ultimatums on very painful points. There may be no history of collaborative work between the attorneys on behalf of their parties, and there is no guarantee that this first four-way meeting will be anything but unpleasant.

FAQs About Mediation To Stay Married (10/07/07)
Mediation to Stay Married (also known as Marital Mediation) is a method of helping couples who are experiencing marital problems and would prefer to stay together rather than get divorced. This article answers common questions about the process

How to Win: Why Litigation May Not Be The Best Choice (08/20/07)
Most of the lawyers I deal with on a daily basis in my practice are not combative, and, like me, are looking for a peaceful solution for our clients’ problems. Many times (but not always) this is possible to achieve.We solve disputes peacefully by working collaboratively with the opposing counsel to see if both our clients’ needs can be adequately addressed at the same time. So when does your client need to litigate?

How to Save Your Marriage – How a Divorce Lawyer Can Help a Marriage (07/23/07)
One of the most interesting and fulfilling parts of my law practice is to assist people who are contemplating divorce or in the midst of divorcing. I consider this work in helping people though a very significant transition in life quite meaningful. An attorney applies all of his or her legal knowledge in dealing with divorce issues – financial, real estate, pension, and tax law. In addition, all the attorney’s personal experiences, plus knowledge gained through his or her practice are used to address the personal issues in a divorce – anger, grief, fear, and issues involving children.

Mediation to Stay Married – A Technique with Promise (06/24/07)
There is a veil of silence that surrounds every married couple. Spouses express loyalty by not complaining about their partner or their marriage. People feel ashamed if other people know there are problems in their marriage. People often feel that they are the only ones with an imperfect marriage. The truth is that every marriage is complex and every marriage is a blend of the imperfect, the perfect, and everything in between.

Ten Secrets of Reviewing Counsel for Clients in Mediation (05/07/07)
Being a reviewing lawyer for a party in a mediation requires many skills. Surprisingly, only one of them is a knowledge of the law. This article summarizes my reflections on the skills involved in reviewing mediated agreements, and how there are many elements (some of them non-legal) that come together in best addressing a mediated agreement and monitoring the mediation process on behalf of a client.