I heard that they have forced mediation on your first court appearance?
What you probably heard was that during your first appearance in court many of the cases are referred to what used to be called family services, now it is called the probation department- no relation to criminal probation so don't worry. It is on the 3rd floor in Canton if that is the court you will use and it is an office which vets cases before they get to the judge and tries to resolve as many matters as possible for judicial economy. In some counties if you have two lawyers you can avoid probation and in some cases you may want the advice of a probation officer, many are outstanding and very helpful. In my expereince the ones in Norfolk County are great. Don't worry, its a good thing. Take care
At most substantive court appearance on a divorce case in any Massachusetts Probate & Family Court (including Norfolk County) you will likely first be sent to the Probation office (also called Family Service) before your case is heard by a Judge. This is often called mediation, though technically it is not true mediation because it is not confidential. The family service officers who facilitate the "mediations" report back to the Judge what is said.
In most cases you are required to meet with Family Service before you can see a Judge, unless there has been domestic violence.
In addition to the Probation Department at Court, there is another service available to the litigants called conciliation. A conciliator is an experienced family law practitioner who volunteers their time, meets with both parties and counsel, gives their opinion based upon their experience and knowledge the the case's particular Judge, and tries to help everyone resolve the matter. This service is voluntary however, and all parties must agree to participate. If one party is not agreeable, you cannot get the referal from the Court (which is required).
While there are many forms of alternative dispute resolution, all parties have to be in agreement to participate. It is fundamental that a litigant "have his/her day in court."