Author Archives: Clare Piro

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About Clare Piro

Clare Piro is the owner of Clare A. Piro Attorney and Mediator in Harrison, New York.
EMAIL: clare@clarepiromediation.com
BIO: About Clare

Why Might the Spouse Who Deserves a Longer Term of Maintenance Not Receive It?
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Why Might the Spouse Who Deserves a Longer Term of Maintenance Not Receive It? | Clare Piro

(3:48 minutes to read} Even before the enactment of New York’s post-divorce maintenance statute, most mediators and attorneys worked with an informal but commonly accepted formula for determining the duration of maintenance based upon the length of the marriage. The longer the marriage, the longer the term of maintenance. The new statute now provides an advisory schedule, also based on the length of the marriage, for the court to consider in determining the term of maintenance. Paradoxically, however, a longer-term marriage, which would typically result in a longer term of support, may in fact do just the opposite. Why? Because the paying spouse may be likely to retire before the end of the term.

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Sometimes Resolution Comes After a Mediation
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Sometimes Resolution Comes After a Mediation|Clare Piro

{3:24 minutes to read} As with most people, there are some challenges that I welcome, and some that I dread. This goes for mediation as well. A challenging mediation isn’t necessarily challenging because one or both clients are difficult; for me, it’s often because the clients are so diametrically opposed that, no matter how many techniques and skills I use to help them resolve difficult situations, nothing seems to help. I’m talking about extreme situations where even my indefatigable optimism that conflict can be resolved is challenged.

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What is the Opposite of Scarcity?
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What is the Opposite of Scarcity?| Clare Piro

{3:36 minutes to read} I would have answered this question as “abundance,” which I suspect might be a common response. Not according to Brené Brown, however, in her book Daring Greatly. This amazing book is about allowing yourself to be vulnerable so you can achieve great things. Brené Brown believes that the opposite of scarcity is “enough.” In other words, you are:

  • Good enough;
  • Smart enough;
  • Attractive enough;
  • Perfect enough; etc.

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The Dual Impact of Divorce
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The Dual Impact of Divorce | Clare Piro

{3:12 minutes to read} Having been raised by a mother who once heard an ambulance and acted upon the belief that it carried my aunt, who, being 15 minutes late in picking her up, had, of course, been in a car accident, I’m a worrier. If I allow myself to go there, I can easily obsess about a car accident or a plane crash, things that can happen in an instant without warning and could drastically change my life. Then there are the things that are equally devastating but are played out over a longer period of time, such as the life-threatening illness of someone I love.

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Baby Boomer Grandparents
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Baby Boomer Grandparents | Clare Piro

{4:18 minutes to read} As Lesley Stahl was making the rounds on various talk shows, promoting her new book, Becoming Grandma, the Joys and Science of the New Grandparenting, I learned that the omnipresent Boomer generation has once again made its presence known and adopted its own version of being a grandparent. I was then inspired to do a little research—admittedly over the internet, so I am not attesting to complete accuracy. From my experience, though, what I found seems to be on point.

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Living Together or Apart — Relevant in Mediation But Maybe Not in Court
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Living Together or Apart -- Relevant in Mediation But Maybe Not in Court|Clare Piro

{3:48 minutes to read} Courts are now required to consider the following factor, among many others, in making a maintenance award or determining if the statutory amount was unjust: “. . . the existence and duration of a pre-marital joint household or a pre-divorce separate household.” In English, this means that it is relevant to the Court if a couple lived together before they were married, or if they lived apart for a period of time before starting a divorce action.

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Is This How You Want Your Children to Remember You?
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Is This How You Want Your Children to Remember You? | Clare Piro

{3:24 minutes to read} I attended a mediation workshop that focused on the various ways that a mediator can address an impasse in mediation, and help clients get beyond it. Of the many tools, one that struck me profoundly was asking the clients how they think this would make them look in the eyes of their children. Not necessarily now, but when they are adults and may have a keener awareness of what happened in the aftermath of their parents’ divorce.

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Take the Time to Let Mediation Work
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Take the Time to Let Mediation Work | Clare Piro

{3:48 minutes to read} As someone who is making a sincere effort to be mindful and present, and also as someone to whom these qualities do not come naturally, I understand how difficult it is to be patient. When you are in the midst of a divorce and want it to all be over yesterday, it’s even more of a challenge to let things work out in their own time. If you want to mediate, I urge you to undertake this challenge with as much forbearance as you are able to muster. Mediation requires an element of trust in the process; trust to allow it to proceed at its own pace.

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Civility in Mediation
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Civility in Mediation|Clare Piro

{3:12 minutes to read} After watching the umpteenth presidential debate, you can imagine why I started to think about civility in personal and professional settings. For most of us, civility in personal situations is automatic. We’re polite to strangers, say good morning, hold open a door and say you’re fine even if you’re not. On the other hand, for those with whom we’re most comfortable, sometimes that automatic default to civility is lost. And for those with whom we’re in conflict, some of us may even constantly snipe at each other like those on the stage in the 2016 Presidential Debates

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Afraid to Mediate?
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Afraid to Mediate? | Clare Piro

{3:54 minutes to read} Clients in initial consultations are sometimes hesitant to begin mediation because of:

  • Fear the other will take advantage of them and the process;
  • Friends and family saying they should have a lawyer fight for them;
  • The other person having a greater advantage in bargaining power.
In previous posts, I’ve written how those kinds of concerns can be overcome in the process of mediation. You can have the support of legal, financial and mental health professionals, in and out of the process, to help you understand the law and advocate for yourself.

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The Difference Between a Mediated and a Litigated Agreement
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The Difference Between a Mediated and a Litigated Agreement | Clare Piro

{3:48 minutes to read} When comparing mediated and litigated agreements, the first thought that comes to mind is that a mediated agreement would have terms that are balanced, would be more creative and would more accurately reflect exactly what the parties believe is best for their families. The Language Another important difference is in the language itself. Without considering the actual terms, one can see a difference in the terminology used in an agreement drafted after a mediation versus the terminology used in an agreement drafted after an adversarial process.

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4 Reasons You Need Budgets in Mediation
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4 Reasons You Need Budgets in Mediation | Clare Piro

{2:48 minutes to read} Budgets are not fun – composing them, living on them and even just having to think about them. So, I understand the look in clients’ eyes when I first talk to them about completing their budgets. Here are 4 reasons why I think it’s vital to have accurate and complete budgets for each party in mediation. Budgets are a reality check No matter the level of income, a good percentage of my clients are living above their means. Seeing this in black and white makes it clear that changes will need to be made.

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What Does New York’s New Maintenance Statute Mean for Mediation?
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What Does New York's New Maintenance Statute Mean for Mediation? | Clare Piro

{3:12 minutes to read} In the summer of 2015, the New York legislature passed a statute providing for post-divorce maintenance. The statute was then signed by the governor and is effective for all matters filed in Court after January 23, 2016. The statute provides a formula for computing maintenance based upon the respective incomes of the parties with a cap of $175,000 for the income of the person paying support. For a person paying support with income over $175,000, the Court may at its discretion, award support based upon consideration of some 15 factors.

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Don’t Punish Your Children for the Other Parent’s Bad Behavior
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Don't Punish Your Children for the Other Parent's Bad Behavior | Clare Piro

{3:36 minutes to read} If you were to ask any parent if, under any circumstance, he or she would want to punish their children for something they had nothing to do with, they would think you were out of your mind. However, I’ve seen people do just that, though I doubt they are aware of it. I’ve seen it happen most often in these situations:

  • The other parent had an affair
  • The other parent worked night and day
  • The other parent ceded any responsibility for the children.

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Your Marriage May Have Failed but You Are Not a Failure
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Your Marriage May Have Failed but You Are Not a Failure | Clare Piro

{3:30 minutes to read} After hearing Katty Kay speak about the book written by her and Claire Shipman, The Confidence Code, I immediately downloaded it and am very glad I did. They performed an exhaustive study on the highly sought after quality of confidence:

  • Is it something that we are born with?
  • Is it something that can be taught?
  • Is it more important to be confident than competent?
and most significantly, why is it that so many women are hampered by self-doubt and blame?

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Reflections on the Year
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Reflections on the Year| Clare Piro

{2:42 minutes to read} Around this time of year, most people are considering resolutions for the new year. I never did that because I feel if you want to change something to be more positive, why wait? I prefer to reinvent myself or incorporate changes as they come to mind and when I can commit to them, be it on a Tuesday in March or the last week in December. I’m not without end of the year rituals though. Mine are just in terms of the past rather than the future. I spend some time reflecting on the year that has passed. It’s a little too difficult for me to do this in my head, so I actually look through my calendar and seeing the notations of things I have done brings those faded memories and the emotions they stirred (or not) to the forefront.

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Why Would I Need a Coach to Get a Divorce?
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Why Would I Need a Coach to Get a Divorce? | Clare Piro

Previously, I wrote about the benefit to parents in using a child specialist.  In this post, I am writing about the benefits to clients in using a divorce coach in certain situations. It does sound odd to think that someone needs a coach to get a divorce.  At first blush it can bring up the wholly inappropriate picture of someone on the sidelines cheering you on as you prepare to end your marriage. That is most definitely not the role of a divorce coach.

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Mindfulness and Mediation
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Mindfulness and Mediation | Clare Piro

{3:18 minutes to read} I am attending a series of workshops for mediators who are interested in practicing mindfulness tools to help alleviate stress, impart focus and extend compassion not just to others but also to ourselves.

To start in a small way, our trainer suggested as an exercise, to practice mindfulness while brushing your teeth–to really think about how the toothpaste tastes, how it feels against each tooth, the sounds.  I had to laugh because as the consummate multi-tasker, brushing my teeth means that I am simultaneously cleaning up the counter, reading a magazine, or even on occasion walking out of the room to watch television.

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Does the Truth Matter?
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Does the Truth Matter? | Clare Piro

{3:55 minutes to read} We all tend to adapt a story in retelling it.  It’s mostly small points, but sometimes people who may have lived through the event with us will notice that some liberties have been taken.

It doesn’t mean that the embellishment is done to purposely avoid the truth.  It could be:

  • How we actually recall the event;

  • Our “version” makes an amusing story more amusing; or,

  • It puts us in a more flattering light.

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What is Wrong with this Picture?
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What is Wrong with this Picture? | Clare PIro

{4:00 minutes to read} I received a notice of a Continuing Legal Education course sponsored by the New York State Bar Association titled, “So Custody Is An Issue: What Do We Do Now?” Ever the optimist, I took a look at the description and agenda hoping to find an offering on resolving custody through a non-adversarial approach. Not surprisingly, even for an optimist like myself, there was nothing offered regarding mediation or collaborative practice, both of which can be found on the website of the New York State Unified Court System

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Are there Limits to Client Self-Determination? Part 2
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Are there Limits to Client Self-Determination? Part 2 | Clare Piro

{3:36 minutes to read} In a previous post, I discussed the difficulty faced by a mediator when he or she needs to consider whether or not the client’s right to self-determination should be controlling in the face of an agreement that could be considered unconscionable.

In my initial consultation with clients, I try to draw the distinction for them between someone who:

  • Is unable to fully participate in the mediation;

  • Does not have the capacity to mediate or

  • Cannot advocate for himself or herself.

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Balance and Mediation
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Balance and Mediation | Clare Piro

{3:24 minutes to read} When I mentioned to a friend that I loved the balance poses in yoga the best, her reply was that she wasn’t surprised because she thought I was the most balanced person she knows.

I laughed at the connection, but then when I thought about it, I do have a very strong sense of balance that plays out in many different ways.

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The Importance of Control
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The Importance of Control | Clare Piro

{3:30 minutes to read} I always stress the importance of the client's right of control in a mediated matter versus the loss of control clients experience in a litigation or in an attorney negotiated matter.

My recent, 2nd personal brush with the legal system reminded me of the 1st, and brought the concept of client control in mediation to an ever greater importance for me.

A few years before I became a mediator, and still litigated matters, I retained an attorney to petition the court for guardianship of my aunt, who was in a coma after suffering a stroke.

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Fair is in the Eye of the Beholder
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Fair is in the Eye of the Beholder | Clare Piro

{3 minutes to read}  It’s rare that I don’t have a mediation in which at least one of the participants will say “I just want to do what’s fair.” I think that’s a reasonable statement and that they wholeheartedly mean it when they say it. But what does that really mean?

Is It Fair Under the Law?

Sometimes clients want to know if it is fair under the law. This assumes that the application of the law is inherently fair, which I don’t believe is consistently true. Statutes are interpreted differently based on relevant and sometimes irrelevant factors, but even if the statute is applied correctly, there is one winner and one loser. Ultimately, both parties lose, given the emotional and financial costs inherent in the process, and unintended consequences arise even for the “winner.”

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Are there Limits to Client Self-Determination? Part 1
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Are there Limits to Client Self-Determination? Part 1 | Clare PIro

(3:48 minutes to read} This question is the subject of many a treatise, panel discussion, informal debate among mediators, and heartfelt soul-searching for an individual mediator confronted with the situation.

If you’ve been mediating a while, undoubtedly this has come up for you. Or if you’re a client in a mediation, you may wonder just how strong is your right to determine the outcome.

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Why I Turned to Mediation
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Why I Turned to Mediation | Clare Piro

{3:36 minutes to read}

When I practiced family law in an adversarial setting, I always felt a little guilty when I said that I enjoyed it, given that I was working with people who were going through one of the worst times of their lives. But in contrast to the other parts of my practice (real estate and estate matters), family law was interesting, dynamic, and challenging. Presenting and opposing arguments was intellectually stimulating based upon the substantial case law. I also genuinely liked most of my clients and felt that I was helping them in advocating for them.

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When Things Change – Part III: Parenting
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When Things Change - Part III: Parenting|Clare Piro

{3:24 minutes to read} Depending on your situation, resolving your parenting plan can be the simplest or most difficult part of your mediation.

  • I have had clients who spoke about it in advance of the meeting, and but for a few minor points, had it all resolved.

  • I’ve also had clients who spent several meetings to achieve a plan that they both could agree was the best for their family.

  • Most of my clients, however, will spend one entire meeting on resolving parenting issues.

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Are We Your Worst Clients?
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Are We Your Worst Clients? | Clare Piro

{3:36 minutes to read} I have to say that some variation on that question is often asked of me by my mediation clients. Almost uniformly, the clients who ask that question are never my most difficult.

I suspect they may feel they are being difficult because they may have:

  • Had a protracted disagreement over an issue that didn’t get resolved by the end of the meeting;

  • Voiced resentment or frustration with their spouse; or

  • Raised their voices as part of a heated discussion.

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When Things Change – Part II: Child Support
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When Things Change - Part II: Child Support | Clare Piro

{3:36 minutes to read}  New York enacted a statute several years ago to put some clarity into the process of modifying child support. The statute provides that there are three bases for a party to ask a Court to modify support:

(1) a substantial change in circumstances;

(2) the passage of three years since the last order or modification; or

(3) that a party’s income has changed by 15% or more since the last order or modification.

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When Things Change – Part I: Relocation
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When Things Change - Part I: Relocation | Clare Piro

{3:42 minutes to read}

Imagine that you’ve been living separately under your agreement for a few years and are co-parenting with your former spouse. Things are going better than you ever imagined, your children are happy, and then your former spouse informs you that she will be losing her job unless she accepts a transfer to Florida. Because that job results in a significant increase in salary, and because she then will be able to be close to where her parents and sister live, she wants to move to Florida with the children.

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