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Laurie Israel

Laurie Israel is an attorney, mediator and collaborative lawyer practicing in Brookline, Massachusetts.

As a marital mediator, Laurie helps couples improve and preserve their marriages through mediation. Her years of divorce practice led Laurie to examine why some marriages fail and some marriages work well. By using mediation techniques to help married couples resolve their conflicts, couples can improve and sustain their marriages. She has developed a registry site for marital mediators and people looking for marital mediators. Laurie has become one of the leaders in the marital mediation movement. She is a frequent teacher to other mediators in workshops around the country, and has published extensively on her website, and other websites.

Laurie's other major field of endeavor is prenuptial agreements and postnuptial agreements. She is the author of the the forthcoming book The Generous Prenup: Creating a Prenuptial Agreement that Supports your Marriage. She has written on this topic in various publications, including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. She is very sensitive to the threats on marital harmony posed by prenuptial agreements and believes formulating them through the process of mediation is generally the best way to do it, if a couple needs to have one.

Laurie’s practice also includes all types of consensual divorces, collaborative divorce, and various strains of negotiated divorces. She works with clients both as a neutral mediator and as counsel. Her writings are on the firm's website. Another area of her practice is estate planning and probate of estates. She started her law career as a tax lawyer.

Laurie is a member of the Massachusetts Council on Family Mediation and is a frequent contributor to She is founder of Israel, Van Kooy & Days, LLC, in Brookline, Massachusetts. To learn about her law firm and read her articles, visit Laurie and her partners also publish a law blog at

Laurie lives in Western Massachusetts and mostly telecommutes to the Brookline office.

Entries by Laurie Israel

The Problem With Prenups, Part III: The Dangerous Sport of Extreme Prenups

(0) Comments | Posted May 31, 2016 | 4:21 PM

Some time ago I was researching the divorce and inheritance laws of a particular state when I ran across an article entitled "Getting Ready for Marriage," which dealt with premarital contracts and asset-protection planning. It was written by a law school professor, who laid out each element of that state's...

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Underwood Family Values -- A Template for a Marriage

(0) Comments | Posted May 11, 2016 | 6:49 AM

I'm a late adopter. While the Netflix-produced political drama "House of Cards" premiered back in February of 2013, and four seasons (totaling 52 episodes) have already aired, with a fifth season in the works, I only started viewing very recently. Though I've been binge-watching it, I'm still in the middle...

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The Secret Messages Behind the SCOTUS Same-Sex Marriage Oral Arguments

(0) Comments | Posted June 1, 2015 | 1:33 PM

Sometimes reading the transcripts of the oral arguments of U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) cases is like reading code messages of secret agents. The purpose of the questions and content of the answers are not readily apparent to the layperson, because there are underlying legal concepts that the lawyers are trying...

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Where Does Marital Mediation Fit In?

(0) Comments | Posted May 6, 2015 | 3:55 PM

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.

Facilitative Mediation.

"Facilitative" mediation (the original type which started to be broadly practiced in the 1960s...

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Is Mediating Prenups a Form of Marital Mediation?

(4) Comments | Posted August 12, 2014 | 4:16 PM

My mediation practice during the past several years has taken a turn towards mediating prenuptial agreements. Here's how it happened:

At times being the "other" attorney reviewing the agreement sent by the lawyer of the more moneyed spouse-to-be, I noticed a trend: The first draft of these agreements generally sketched...

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Give Your Marriage a Spousal Waiver

(4) Comments | Posted April 22, 2014 | 7:45 AM

All married people struggle with disputes that arise in a long-term committed relationship. What to do about the predictable and ever-repeating disagreements and mutual criticisms that come up from time to time, but hopefully not too often. As Daniel Jones, editor of the "Modern Love" column in the...

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Mediator as Truthsayer

(0) Comments | Posted October 23, 2013 | 4:57 PM

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.

At its core, mediation has as much variety as there are mediators,...

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How to Eliminate 'Hot Speech' in Marriage

(1) Comments | Posted September 10, 2013 | 10:59 AM

We live in a very fast world.

Information is shared instantly. A public figure might do something at 9 a.m., and by 9:15 a.m. it's all over the Twitterscape and Facebook. By 10 a.m. it is on the Internet, which now functions as mainstream media.

Remember the beginning...

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L'infidélité est-elle le chemin vers l'honnêteté conjugale?

(0) Comments | Posted February 21, 2013 | 8:56 AM

La fidélité est la règle ouverte et sous-entendue de la plupart des mariages. Il y a les vœux prononcés au début du mariage. Il y a les promesses de fidélité. La fidélité est le socle du mariage, en particulier aux Etats-Unis.

Les époux craignent à raison l'infidélité. Ils voient d'autres...

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Infidelity: An Opportunity For Marital Truthfulness

(486) Comments | Posted February 19, 2013 | 12:50 AM

Fidelity is the spoken and unspoken rule of most marriages. There are the vows at the beginning of the marriage. There are ongoing promises of fidelity. Fidelity is required by the culture of marriage, especially here in the United States.

Spouses fear infidelity, and for good...

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Let There Be Light: A Hanukkah Miracle

(3) Comments | Posted December 10, 2012 | 10:51 AM

They say miracles don't happen anymore. Miracles were in the Bible, like Judah Maccabeus, and the candle that burned without oil for eight days and eight nights.

A few of years back, around the time of Hanukkah, I experienced a miracle (actually two of them, back to back) with my...

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Reframing the Seven Deadly Sins

(5) Comments | Posted November 15, 2012 | 4:33 PM

I have been thinking about the Seven Deadly Sins lately. I'm not sure why. Perhaps my pondering on repentance during September led me to think of the sins that I've committed during the past year.

The Seven Deadly Sins are not in the Jewish religion, but I remember hearing...

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What Is A "Surgical Divorce" And How To Get One

(5) Comments | Posted May 3, 2012 | 7:22 PM

I have recently been using a term for a certain type of fast and easy divorce -- "surgical divorce". This type of divorce is actually quite frequent among my divorcing clients.

What I call a "surgical divorce" is the kind of divorce where the spouses do not want to...

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Your Divorce, Idiomatically Speaking

(40) Comments | Posted March 15, 2012 | 12:04 PM

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. Lately, I have been...

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I'm Really Proud of You!

(9) Comments | Posted January 24, 2012 | 2:15 PM

As I get older, I become more nurturing of younger people. I commute by subway, and generally, I (at the tender age of 65) am the oldest person on the train. I look at the younger people -- so full of life and activity. And in spite of being an...

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Prenups - Don't Lawyer Up, Mediate! Part II: "The Solution"

(4) Comments | Posted September 2, 2011 | 12:37 PM

In the first part of this article, Prenups -- Don't Lawyer Up, Mediate! -- Part I: "The Problem", I discussed the dangers in doing prenups the usual way -- lawyering up and making it like an adversarial business deal. This usually results in a very bruising and destructive...

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Prenups - Don't Lawyer Up, Mediate! Part I: "The Problem"

(198) Comments | Posted August 31, 2011 | 3:06 AM

There have been many articles on The Huffington Post and elsewhere touting the benefits of prenuptial agreements, such as, "Why Engaged Couples Should Sign a Prenup." These articles typically talk about how resolving and clarifying money issues prior to marriage is a good thing. However,...

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DOMA and Me

(213) Comments | Posted July 11, 2011 | 4:46 PM

The 1996 Defense of Marriage Act ("DOMA") has two main parts. Section 2 of the act states that states need not recognize a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of other states. This means that if I'm married in Massachusetts...

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How to Train Your Marriage (Dragon)

(0) Comments | Posted July 10, 2011 | 8:00 AM

I watched "How to Train your Dragon" on Netflix this weekend. It's a DreamWorks animated film about an adolescent boy who chose to communicate with a dangerous dragon, rather than slay it. Like most modern animations, it has deep meaning. In the case of "How to Train Your Dragon," it...

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Do You Need Divorce Insurance? Take the 'Divorce Probability' Test and Find Out

(7) Comments | Posted April 19, 2011 | 11:06 AM

This past week, a colleague in the collaborative practice community, Chris Chen, a CDFA (Certified Divorce Financial Analyst) in Waltham, Massachusetts, told me about a company offering divorce insurance. As someone involved in the business of both divorce and marital mediation I was intrigued. I couldn't resist taking...

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