Author Archives: Jennifer Safian

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About Jennifer Safian

Jennifer Safian is a divorce & family mediator and the founder of Safian Mediation in New York.
EMAIL: jpsafian@gmail.com
BIO: About Jennifer Safian

divorce and co-parenting between continents
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divorce and co-parenting between continents | Jennifer Safian

{3:12 minutes to read} In our previous article, I wrote about the challenges that some divorced parents may encounter during the summer when children are on school vacation and out of their regular routine. In this article, I wanted to outline some of the challenges divorced parents are faced with when they live on different continents. I recently mediated a divorce for a French couple. They had three young children and had moved to New York several years ago, where the husband had received a job offer to work for a French bank. This job afforded the family many financial benefits for living abroad, but unfortunately the relationship between the parents was fraught with troubles, and the couple came to mediation to work out the terms of their divorce.

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divorce and co-parenting during the summer
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divorce and co-parenting during the summer | Jennifer Safian

{2:48 minutes to read} Separation and divorce often walk hand in hand with disruption and chaos, not to mention fear, anger and a lot of sadness. In the midst of dealing with all of these emotions, when there are children, parents have to give much thought to where the children will live, how much time they will get to spend with them, and how to help them manage their own emotions. We have written other articles about parenting plans, but in this article, I wanted to specifically address summer vacation and how parents may need to be more flexible with each other and the children.

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Unrealistic Demands
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Unrealistic Demands | Jennifer Safian

{3:42 minutes to read} Working in mediation with couples going through divorce, I am at times concerned about some of the demands they have as they separate their lives and their assets. Rather than working out an agreement that is equitable and fair, some people are driven by revenge, anger, and a need to punish their soon-to-be ex for the “pain that is being inflicted on me.” They think that if they receive more assets than their spouse, they will be vindicated and walk away feeling better than when they walked in. Although they may derive some immediate satisfaction from having more tangible assets, in the long run, these “things” will most likely not provide the inner peace they seek.

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Multi-Generational Step-Parenting Can Work with a Little Forethought
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Multi-Generational Step-Parenting Can Work with a Little Forethought | Jennifer Safian

{3:42 minutes to read} Bringing a step-relative into the family structure can be challenging for everyone, or very successful, as the following story illustrates. Recently, I was visiting a family of 7; a couple with 4 children, from ages 7 to 11, and a new puppy. One grandmother was there with her significant other—we will call him John—whom the children had only met a couple of times. Their grandfather, beloved by all, had died several years ago, but was still very present in their conversations. A gathering that could have been difficult for John and the family, turned into a day of acceptance and joy.

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should we provide answers or ask questions?
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should we provide answers or ask questions? | Jennifer Safian

{2:24 minutes to read} Have you been in situations where people have asked what you think they should do? They probably see you as someone who has experience and whose advice they most likely trust. As the professional or as the friend, you may feel good that someone in need is coming to you for professional or friendly advice. The temptation is to share your experience with them and give them a solution. However, that knowledge or personal experience might be even more beneficial if you ask questions rather than giving out answers. It will take a little more effort on your part, but it’s well worth it to those you are trying to help.

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How Well Do You Listen?
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How Well Do You Listen? | Jennifer Safian

{3:00 minutes to read} Did you know that the words, listen and silent have the exact same letters? Let’s think about this for a moment: SILENT and LISTEN. How else are they connected? Do you ever find that you are not getting anywhere when trying to resolve an issue with someone? One of the reasons could be that you have not been heard or you have not heard what the other person has to say. How can you resolve something when you don’t have a clear understanding of what is involved?

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The Prenup Elephant and Mediation
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The Prenup Elephant and Mediation | Jennifer Safian

{2:42 minutes to read} Prenups have a bad reputation and often create much unrest between a couple while they are excitedly preparing to go down the aisle. Flowers, music, and invitations sound much more fun than talking about “what happens if we get a divorce?” Usually prenups are requested by the party who comes into the marriage with more assets, either from their family, or in the case of later marriages, earned by that party prior to the marriage. I have met with several couples where this was the case, and the less moneyed party is usually very hurt and questions: “You want me as your spouse, but then you talk about divorce? How do you think this makes me feel?”

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You have 5 Grandmothers? That’s impossible!
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You have 5 Grandmothers? That’s impossible! | Jennifer Safian

{2:30 minutes to read} As we grow older, possibly wiser, or maybe it’s just that we have more experience, I realize that we are still not able to view situations from the perspective of the younger generations. They never knew the rotary phone and are astonished when we say: ”No, we did not have cell phones at age 10.” But, they do have a capacity for acceptance and resilience that often amazes me. I met a 10-year-old child the other day who has 5 grandmothers! When I asked him to tell me a little more about who they were, he very simply explained to me that they included his mother’s and his father’s mothers, and his grandfather’s second and third wives. He explained that Poppy and Nana (his father’s parents) had been divorced, that Poppy got married “twice more” and divorced “twice more,”— hence his third and fourth grandmothers—and then Poppy got married again so that makes five! (Really, Poppy??)

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Mediation for Couples Separating but Never Married
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Mediation for Couples Separating but Never Married | Jennifer Safian

{3:54 minutes to read} More and more frequently, I am getting calls from couples who have decided to call it quits after living together for many years, but who never actually married. This trend has been happening in European countries for many years and now seems to be more prevalent in the US, though in a less outspoken way. Mediation offers the best possible place for separating non-married couples, because it gives them a platform to explore separating their assets.

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what happens to assets accumulated after separation?
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what happens to assets accumulated after separation? | Jennifer Safian

{2:42 minutes to read} Bob and Jean were married for twelve years, but had been living separately, with no formal separation agreement, for the last 5 years. They came to mediation to work out the terms of their divorce. The big question that came up for them was, “What happens to the money accumulated since their separation? Is it marital property or is it separate property?”

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perception and reality in divorce mediation
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perception and reality in divorce mediation | Jennifer Safuan

{3:06 minutes to read} I met with Jayne* and Will* for a consultation to explain the mediation process and give them the opportunity to ask questions before actually committing to this process. Jayne immediately said that she and Will disagreed on absolutely everything! Will piped up with “I disagree with that!” This was obviously an indication of the difficulties I would encounter with their case.

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the greek chorus revisited
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the greek chorus revisited | Jennifer Safian

{3:06 minutes to read} A few years ago, I wrote an article called “The Greek Chorus.” The article centered around all the well meaning people who think they know what you are going through and want to dispense advice on your situation. The effects of “friendly advice” continue to be a problem with many of my clients, so I thought that it might be helpful to take another look at this topic. Divorce is a very scary proposition, and when we are scared, many of us tend to gravitate towards others for answers and support.

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family dispute? ask a question
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family dispute? ask a question | Jennifer Safian

{1:36 minutes to read} With our aging population and the growth of multi-generation families, the need for family mediation is increasing as conflicts arise. These conflicts come in all shapes and sizes:

  • Disputes between siblings over the care of aging parents
  • Squabbles regarding distribution of assets in inheritances
  • Disagreements regarding the sharing of family vacation homes
  • Resentments of elder parents feeling that they don’t get the attention they need from their children
  • Money disputes
And many others. Click here to read Jennifer Safian's full article...

10 faqs on divorce and taxes
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10 faqs on divorce and taxes | Jennifer Safian

{5:06 minutes to read} Many of the financial decisions made by couples going through divorce have tax implications. And while I am not a tax specialist and do not calculate the taxes that may be due following my divorcing clients’ decisions, I always alert them that taxes may be due so they can discuss those points with a tax professional. Since we are now about one month away from April 15, I chose to list here 10 of the most frequently encountered tax questions during the divorce process.

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filing the divorce action
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filing the divorce action | Jennifer Safian

{3:18 minutes to read} In a previous article, do we file for divorce before starting mediation, I talked about whether parties needed to file for divorce before starting the mediation process. Eli Uncyk, Esq., an experienced family law mediator and attorney, read my article and suggested I write about what happens if the parties do file for divorce before starting the mediation process, and how this might affect that process. I asked him if he would answer these questions, since he is an attorney and a prominent one in our mediation community. He graciously agreed, and what follows are his thoughts on the subject.

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give the divorce process the time it needs
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give the divorce process the time it needs | Jennifer Safian

{3:12 minutes to read} Instant gratification… isn’t that what many of us expect in all areas of our lives? Professional as well as personal? And when we cannot get whatever it is we want at that very moment, we may often be left feeling anxious and tense. Rushing to get an instant result, however, can prevent us from making good decisions. By the time we realize that we may not have given ourselves the extra time to think things out properly, it’s too late, and we cannot take back what we created or said by wanting it “NOW.” And even if we can, we may suffer negative consequences from having to undo what we rushed into.

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the communication effect of mediation
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the communication effect of mediation | Jennifer Safian

{3:54 minutes to read} Couples coming to resolve their divorce through mediation are often not on the same page. One person can be more advanced in the process, thinking about getting divorced for a long time, while the other person is barely able to accept the idea of a separation, let alone think about the “D word.” Or it may be that, because of very different personalities and styles of communication, the parties are unable to have a calm and productive conversation. The process can only go as fast as the slowest party.

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do we file for divorce before starting mediation?
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do we file for divorce before starting mediation? | Jennifer Safian

{3:06 minutes to read} When a couple decides that they want to divorce, there is often some confusion as to when they should file in court. Here are the most frequently asked questions regarding the filing process and its effect on a couple’s ability to mediate their divorce. Do we have to file for divorce in court before starting the mediation process? The answer to this question is no; people need not file in court before they start the mediation process, nor do they need to worry about filing in court themselves at any point.

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can we agree to disagree and still find a compromise?
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Can we agree to disagree and still find a compromise? | Jennifer Safian

{3:30 minutes to read} The phrase “agree to disagree” first appeared in print in 1770 when, at the death of George Whitefield, an Anglican cleric, John Wesley wrote a memorial sermon for his fellow cleric. Wesley acknowledged, but downplayed the two men’s doctrinal differences using a phrase written by Whitefield himself in 1750: “After all, those who will live in peace must agree to disagree in many things with their fellow-labourers, and not let little things part or disunite them."

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january 2017! happy new year!
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january 2017! happy new year! | Jennifer Safian

{2:12 minutes to read} As hard as it is to believe, here we are once again at the beginning of a new year! Yes, it may seem like “it’s deja vu all over again” as Yogi Berra once said, but in truth, at the beginning of every year, there is an opportunity for renewal and change. An opportunity for each one of us to re-examine where we are in our lives, personal as well as professional.

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the impromptu prenup
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the impromptu prenup | Jennifer Safian

{4:00 minutes to read} My previous article “you want a prenup?? why?? don’t you trust me? talked about some of the reasons for a prenup, as well as the many decisions that a couple can include in their prenup. But what happens when one person presents the other party with a one-sided pre-written prenup and asks him or her to sign it? A former client of mine, let’s call her Sarah, called me one day saying that her fiance had presented her with such a document, and that she was thrown into such a state of despair that she was wondering whether she should still go forward with the wedding. Sarah and her fiance, Bruce, came into my office with a copy of that prenup.

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let’s not forget the add-ons!
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let’s not forget the add-ons! | Jennifer Safian

{3:12 minutes to read} While not mandatory, add-ons are more often than not a major part of the financial support for children of parents going through divorce. Often, however, these expenses can be forgotten when talking about basic child support. The New York State Courts have established guidelines for parents of minor children to help them with the calculation of their basic child support obligations. Basic child support is an amount of money contributed by the non-custodial parent (the parent who has the children the least number of nights per year) to the custodial parent towards payment of rent, utilities, food and basic clothing for the children.

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a tale of two brothers
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a tale of two brothers | Jennifer Safian

{3:42 minutes to read} Henry and Paul came in for a mediation session with both their wives. They had a conflict regarding the care of their 80-year-old mother who was afflicted with Alzheimer’s. When their mother’s condition was diagnosed, Henry and his wife proposed to bring the mother in to live with them. Paul, who lived in another state and was still raising children, accepted the offer readily. The deteriorating relationship between the brothers became more apparent when Paul voiced his concern that his inheritance was dwindling away. He began to question many of the expenses incurred as “Necessary? Or are they just for Henry’s convenience?“

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elder care mediation: ensure everyone’s voice is heard
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elder care mediation: ensure everyone’s voice is heard | Jennifer Safian

{3:60 minutes to read} With an increasingly aging population, people are living well into their nineties. Unfortunately, with age comes more health issues—physical as well as mental. The increasing needs of the elderly often cause rifts among their children as to how to best manage the care of their parents. Often, old dynamics and tensions between siblings reappear as they find themselves facing a family crisis, causing difficulties in reaching a consensus on what the best approach may be to resolve that crisis.

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finding a balance for parent and adult child communication
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finding a balance for parent and adult child communication | Jennifer Safian

{3:12 minutes to read} Myriam, an elderly lady, was referred to me by an acquaintance who thought I may be of help in facilitating a difficult dialogue between her and her married son, Scott. It was evident to me from the moment I met them that they had enormous love for each other. It was also obvious that they were both very tense and concerned about the outcome of the session. Each tried to explain how it seemed that every attempt Myriam made to reach out to her son caused enormous stress to both of them. According to Scott, Miriam’s attempts were much too frequent. Myriam said that he “never” answered her calls and that she “never” saw him!

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why go to family mediation?
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{3:00 minutes to read} My mother died without a will. Our stepfather is still alive. There are also 4 siblings, and we can’t agree on how to divide up the estate. Agree?? George isn’t speaking to Alice. Mary Margaret blames me for trying to run the show. How are we going to get everyone around the table to discuss and find some resolution? All families experience conflict. What varies is the intensity of the conflict, and whether it prevents the family members from maintaining a close connection and/or uniting in times of crisis. In fact, it’s when a crisis occurs that family relationships are often put to the test.

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divorce mediation with high-net-worth families: it is not just about the money
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divorce mediation with high-net-worth families: it is not just about the money | Jennifer Safian

{2:48 minutes to read} When I first started practicing divorce mediation 15 years ago, the public’s perception was   that mediation was for people who did not have the means to hire separate attorneys to act on their behalf. Mediation, therefore, was primarily a way for them to save money on their divorce. Over the years, my practice has included an increasing number of very high-net-worth couples for whom saving money on attorney fees was actually not the primary reason for choosing mediation. They truly felt that the mediation process was the best approach for them.

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a painful plea from a child of divorce
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a painful plea from a child of divorce | Jennifer Safian

{4:24 minutes to read} Many couples going through divorce have to make huge efforts to protect their children from their conflict. Unfortunately, once in awhile, the stress is so high that their emotions get the better part of them, and the child gets pulled into their drama. I worked with a family who unfortunately continued to have financial issues after their divorce. They shared with me a letter that their son sent to them from college, begging them to stop their bitter arguments against each other. As you will see, he was willing to sacrifice his education for a cheaper alternative, just to end their conflict.

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the “art” of equitable distribution
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{3:48 minutes to read} Divorce presents a multitude of challenges when it comes to the valuation and equitable distribution of an existing business, not the least of which is a business dealing in fine arts. For the purpose of this article, we shall define fine arts as paintings, sculptures, drawings, watercolors and graphics. Depending on the type of business, one may look at many different factors including:

  • Earnings;
  • Cash-flow analysis;
  • Competition;
  • Whether it’s a service;
  • The value of the assets/inventory, if applicable.

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