Author Archives: Don Sinkov

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About Don Sinkov

Don Sinkov is a Divorce and Separation Mediator in Putnam Valley, New York.
EMAIL: donsinkov@gmail.com
BIO: About Don
PHONE: 914-588-6258

Mediating a Divorce After a Long-Term Marriage
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Authored by , re: Family & Divorce, on .
Mediating a Divorce After a Long-Term Marriage | Don Sinkov

{2:30 minutes to read} I am often pleasantly surprised when couples who have been married for 20, 30, 40 years or more are able to come to mediation to be divorced. Sometimes I wonder whether I could have done that; whether I could sit next to my soon-to-be ex-spouse and say out loud, “I want to divorce you and move on with my life. I want to live alone and not be married to you anymore.” How incredibly difficult would that be in a private setting, but here we are, saying this in front of the mediator, a stranger whom we just met.

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Like Donald Trump, Pay Your Fair Share of Taxes, but Don’t Overpay
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Authored by , re: Family & Divorce, on .
Like Donald Trump, Pay Your Fair Share of Taxes, but Don’t Overpay | Don Sinkov

{2:24 minutes to read} As the years have gone on, I’ve been really working hard to make my mediation practice successful. Most of my clients are now coming from referrals, with a smaller percentage coming from internet advertising. My practice has grown steadily, and now it is time to do my 2016 tax return.

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The Dilemma of the Custodial Parent
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Authored by , re: Family & Divorce, on .
The Dilemma of the Custodial Parent | Don Sinkov

{3:06 minutes to read} In most joint custody cases, the child primarily lives with one parent. The other parent shares time with the child around a schedule set forth in their parenting plan.

This joint custody arrangement, although very common in agreements, is not a slam dunk, and to the contrary, is more often not fair to the custodial parent. The majority of phone calls and/or emails I receive are usually complaints from the custodial parent, who, after several months, realizes that the child is with them almost all the time. The non-custodial parent might see the child one or two days a week, but sometimes that doesn’t happen. How many of you have heard this before?

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Boy, Am I Happy I’m Getting the House!
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Authored by , re: Family & Divorce, on .
Boy, Am I Happy I’m Getting the House! | Don Sinkov

{3:54 minutes to read} A divorcing couple has decided how they are going to divide their assets. They really don’t need a mediator to mediate the terms because they have already decided, without knowing family law. Or how a judge might decide their case. Or what factors they need to consider.

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If You Can’t Bargain for Yourself, Maybe Mediation Isn’t for You!
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Authored by , re: Family & Divorce, on .
If You Can’t Bargain for Yourself, Maybe Mediation Isn’t for You! | Don Sinkov

{3:48 minutes to read} One of the elements of a successful mediation is the client’s ability to bargain in their own self interest. Often, I have one spouse who is more concerned about what is going to happen to their soon-to-be ex-spouse than they are about themselves.

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Kids Need a Parent, Not a Playmate
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Authored by , re: Family & Divorce, on .
Kids Need a Parent, Not a Playmate | Don Sinkov

{2:54 minutes to read} So what is a “Disney Dad,” you ask? A Disney Dad, in short, is a dad who spends his visitation time entertaining his child like a friend with no rules or boundaries. Visitation turns into a free-for-all party atmosphere. This may be because the father feels he has very little time with the child, so he wants the child’s memory of that time with dad to be a fun one. I get that, but that’s really not what a parent’s role is, is it?

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Relax and Go On Vacation—The Work Will Wait for You!
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Authored by , re: Family & Divorce, Wellness, on .
Relax and Go On Vacation—The Work Will Wait for You! | Don Sinkov

{2:42 minutes to read} Here I am, about to leave on a ten-day vacation abroad—something I haven’t done in a really long time. I’m experiencing some trepidation, but not just about taking a long flight. I tried to finish all the work I had, but that is nearly impossible since it comes in every day.

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If I Get Divorced, I Get to Keep the Dog, Right?
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Authored by , re: Family & Divorce, on .
If I Get Divorced, I Get to Keep the Dog, Right? | Don Sinkov

{3:00 minutes to read} Pets play a very important role in our lives. In my life I have a dog. I don’t own a dog, I have a dog and the dog has me. No one really owns a living creature. We live with them and have a relationship with them, and that relationship is very special to us. To pet owners, pets are like children and we grow very attached to them.

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Do Grandparents Have Rights in New York?
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Do Grandparents Have Rights in New York? | Don Sinkov

{2:18 minutes to read} The short answer is, “Yes. Grandparents have visitation rights in New York.”

Every divorce agreement that I’ve seen specifically spells out that grandparents in New York have the right to see their grandchildren, and those rights won’t be denied. So that sounds great, and very legal, but how does that really work?

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Are You Ever Too Old to Get Divorced?
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Are You Ever Too Old to Get Divorced | Don Sinkov

{2:42 minutes to read} A couple from Eastern Europe had been married about 65 years. This was their second marriage. They had a bunch of kids who were now in their 60s, and mom and dad decided it was time to get divorced. They had been unhappy for the last 25 years.

Their attorney called me and said that he knew this was a little unusual because of their age, but he had spoken to both of them and they really needed to get it done. He said, “I was wondering who makes a career out of doing unusual mediations, and I thought of you.”

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An Advisory Schedule for Spousal Support: What Does That Mean?
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Authored by , re: Family & Divorce, on .
An Advisory Schedule for Spousal Support: What Does That Mean? | Don Sinkov

{2:00 minutes to read} For years, divorce professionals, attorneys, mediators, judges and lawyers have all been asking for spousal maintenance (formerly called alimony) guidelines. Cases which had the same facts were getting different alimony awards from different judges. In some cases very, very different: Disturbingly different.

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Can We Share Future Earnings After the Divorce?
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Can We Share Future Earnings After the Divorce? | Don Sinkov

{2:42 minutes to read} During a recent mediation, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the husband and wife were smiling and seemed totally at ease. The husband was a hedge fund manager, and being a risk taker, he had started several hedge funds, then gone bankrupt. Currently, he is operating a very successful hedge fund with a very promising future. His wife, who is a successful doctor, had supported him not only financially through a series of ups and downs, but emotionally.

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Is Being a Mediator Tougher Than Being a Lawyer?
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Authored by , re: Family & Divorce, on .
Is Being a Mediator Tougher Than Being a Lawyer? | Don Sinkov

{2:42 minutes to read} I often have conversations with my matrimonial attorney friends about divorce cases we have. We don’t mention names, but usually over a glass of wine or dinner, we talk about our experiences and the different methods we employed to bring about a settlement. Additionally, we share our opinions about what we did and discuss whether there might have been a better or different way to handle the situation.

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Dividing the Marital Assets in Half—Part 2
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Authored by , re: Family & Divorce, on .
Dividing the Marital Assets in Half—Part 2 | Don Sinkov

{3:42 minutes to read} There was a big response to my last blog, I’ll Divide the Marital Assets in Half as Long as My Half Is Bigger, mostly from attorneys. They said horrible things like: “You don’t know what you’re talking about. We don’t always divide the assets in half. Where did you get that idea?

I said, “Okay, so if I’m wrong, tell me why I’m wrong or what you do differently.”

Why Don’t Lawyers Know What Mediators Do?
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Authored by , re: Family & Divorce, on .
Why Don’t Lawyers Know What Mediators Do? | Don Sinkov

{3:06 minutes to read} Recently, I returned from a 3-day annual conference of the New York State Council of Divorce Mediation. The speaker was Eric Tepper. The training was about the new NYS Spousal Maintenance guidelines and advisory schedule. Eric had worked with Judge Sunshine in creating the guidelines and schedule.

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Tell Me How You Communicate and I’ll Tell You How Old You Are!
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Authored by , re: Family & Divorce, on .
Tell Me How You Communicate and I’ll Tell You How Old You Are! | Don Sinkov

{2:18 minutes to read} How do you communicate? Text? Email? Phone? Well, your method of communication might depend on your age.

In the past year, I’ve noticed a very interesting pattern. My younger clients in their 30s and 40s like to text. Even when I have an initial consult with them in person, most communication after that is by text. It took me a while to get used to texting, because that’s not the way I usually communicate. Some of them are texting complicated questions, and the answers aren’t simple. I will often ask them to send me an email, because their question requires a lengthy explanation.

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Is an Attorney-Mediator Better Than a Non-Attorney-Mediator?
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Authored by , re: Family & Divorce, on .
Is an Attorney-Mediator Better Than a Non-Attorney-Mediator? | Don Sinkov

{2:06 minutes to read} A couple — who had been in litigation for 5 years — called me. They said they saw me for a free consultation in 2011. Did I remember them? No. At that time, the husband had picked me from my website, and the wife didn’t like the husband choosing the mediator. She said, “I will choose the mediator. I want a mediator who is an attorney because they will do a better job.”

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How to Provide Child Support for a Special Needs Child
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How to Provide Child Support for a Special Needs Child | Don Sinkov

n{3:30 minutes to read} Remember my article on Parents of Special Needs Children are Special, Too? This is a follow-up on that subject. I recently had a case where the parents had a fair amount of money. As part of their Settlement Agreement, they wanted to put aside funds for their special needs child. Their concerns centered around the cost of services he might need at some later date, especially after the age of 21 when child support would ordinarily end. We discussed the amount of money that they could comfortably put aside, but neither the parents nor I were sure of the best way to go about this. I asked them to schedule another mediation session and encouraged them to do research and gather more information. I decided to do the same on my own.

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When We Left Your Office, Everything Fell Into Place
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When We Left Your Office, Everything Fell Into Place | Don Sinkov

{3:00 minutes to read} It was a very complicated situation: The couple had been to lawyers and court. There were still issues of custody and visitation. One of the spouses had been very ill and was undergoing treatments. The other spouse had been in psychotherapy for a number of years. It was a very complicated situation.

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Is an Attorney-Mediator Better Than a Non-Attorney-Mediator?
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Authored by , re: Family & Divorce, on .
Is an Attorney-Mediator Better Than a Non-Attorney-Mediator? | Don Sinkov

{2:06 minutes to read} A couple — who had been in litigation for 5 years — called me. They said they saw me for a free consultation in 2011. Did I remember them? No. At that time, the husband had picked me from my website, and the wife didn’t like the husband choosing the mediator. She said, “I will choose the mediator. I want a mediator who is an attorney because they will do a better job.”

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I Don’t Need It In Writing – – My Spouse Will Do the Right Thing
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I Don’t Need It In Writing – – My Spouse Will Do the Right Thing | Don Sinkov

{2:36 minutes to read} How many times have I had clients come in where one spouse, usually the husband, has controlled the finances throughout the marriage. He talks about how he has always done the right thing, and taken care of his wife and kids, because, “I am all about taking care of my family.”

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I’m Paying Child Support, Do I Still Have to Pay Half of the Mortgage, Too?
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Authored by , re: Family & Divorce, on .
I’m Paying Child Support, Do I Still Have to Pay Half of the Mortgage, Too? | Don Sinkov

{3:06 minutes to read} I get asked this question at least once a week. The answer is, basic child support is supposed to be for food, clothing and shelter, so since shelter is included, I think most lawyers would say you don’t have to pay half of the mortgage, also. The lawyers call it a double shelter allowance.

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The Story of Bob and Joey
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The Story of Bob and Joey | Don Sinkov

How the Government Provides a Disincentive to Work? {2:6 minutes to read} Bob and Joey have worked at the same job for 30 years. They are getting ready to retire. Joey’s plans are: I’m not going to work anymore. I’m 55. I want to play golf, get up late, read the paper, go to the gym. I don’t want to work anymore.   Bob, on the other hand, started another career, invested his money for retirement, and plans to continue working.

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Parents of Special Needs Children Are Special, Too
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Authored by , re: Family & Divorce, on .
Parents of Special Needs Children Are Special, Too | Don Sinkov

{4:00 minutes to read} Recently, a client came in requesting my help in putting together a parenting plan. I asked if she wanted to get divorced, and she said no. She explained, “We’re not up for that yet, but we do need some kind of parenting plan because what we’re doing now is not working.” I asked her to tell me a little bit about what’s going on, and about her husband and her child. She said her husband is somewhat involved but lives a distance away and mainly sees the child on the weekend.

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Protect Your Children in Your Divorce Agreement
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Protect Your Children in Your Divorce Agreement | Don Sinkov

{3:06 minutes to read} I have had a number of cases where alcohol and drugs have been a major factor in the decision to get divorced. If there are children involved, how do you deal with somebody who’s an alcoholic whether they admit it or not? What if they’re using drugs? What can you do? If one spouse is using drugs and/or is intoxicated and wants to share time with their children, that’s not going to happen. As a parent, you must hold the safety of your children above everything else. I believe it is a moral imperative to deny any parent sharing time with the children when that parent is intoxicated.

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The Divorce Numbers Are In
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The Divorce Numbers Are In | Don Sinkov

{1:16 minutes to read} As with so many things, except maybe gasoline and heating oil, divorce in Westchester is even more expensive in 2016. A matrimonial attorney recently told me, “I can’t believe how much the divorce lawyers are getting for their retainers.” He is charging an average of $12,000 but currently has a case with another attorney whose minimum retainer is $25,000. When I asked what kind of case would warrant a $25,000 retainer, he explained that it was an angry spouse who had fired four previous attorneys.

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Is Divorce Really What You Want or What You Think You Want?
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Is Divorce Really What You Want or What You Think You Want? | Don Sinkov

{1:45 minutes to read} Like George Bush said, “It’s hard work.” Marriage needs both spouses to be partners to achieve a successful relationship. Often, communication is the key ingredient. I can think of several clients in the past year who came to mediation to get divorced. When I asked them to tell me why they wanted to get divorced, most of them said, “We just can’t communicate.” They had such a hard time speaking to each other, that they stopped talking. Slamming doors became their form of communication.

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I’ll Divide the Marital Assets in Half as Long as My Half Is Bigger
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I’ll Divide the Marital Assets in Half as Long as My Half Is Bigger | Don Sinkov

{2:10 minutes to read} It was a beautiful day: the sun was shining, the birds were singing, and I was with a husband and wife who were very cordial and pleasant—until we began discussing money. That’s when things started going downhill really fast. Until we began discussing money. That’s when things started going downhill really fast.

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I’m Proud to Be a Lousy Business Owner
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I’m Proud to Be a Lousy Business Owner | Don Sinkov

{2:36 minutes to read} I’ve been mediating divorce cases for a number of years. I first began mediating because of the need for an alternative to a litigated divorce. As the years have gone by, more and more couples are choosing mediation. When making the choice to use mediation, divorcing couples rely on finding a professional mediator who will guide them through the separation/divorce process. Most couples don’t have a lot of money to spend on a protracted, multi-year divorce case. The money they have needs to be used to get them through the separation/divorce process quickly, not line the pockets of a professional.

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