Recently The New York Times reported about the formation of an online divorce service called “It’s Over Easy” (“Angelina Jolie’s Lawyer Now Offers Quickie Divorces Online,” by Amy Sohn, February 4, 2018). This service is essentially an online questionnaire that is filled out by one or both parties and creates the documents needed to divorce in California and New York, with plans to expand to a few other states. While the founder, Laura Wasser, is a celebrity lawyer, it is meant to appeal to couples who cannot afford the cost of lawyers or even mediation.
It’s the end of the year, and oh what a year it’s been! OMG, as the kids would say, how did we live through it? I thought it would be good to close it out with a list of a few of the songs that I love to listen to when I’m going through stuff…
"Why can’t my real mom and my foster mom get along?” Lakeisha asked, looking up at me. “Why can’t we all live together in a house so I can play with them both? When I’m with my foster mom I miss my real mom and want to go home. But then when I’m with my real mom I worry about my foster mom and wonder if she’s ok.” I was the lawyer for children in foster care for about 10 years, and this was typical of the questions I got from my young clients. It was a hard question to answer in any way that made sense to a child like Lakeisha. Many of the concerns held by children of divorce are much the same.
One of the things that needs to be decided in a divorce is how you’re going to divide up what you own together, and one of the biggest assets that couples usually own is their home. There are several choices as to what happens to the house (or condo or co-op)...
Imagine that you knew that you were going to die in a month. Not from sickness, not from some terrible accident that you have to dread. All you know is that in 30 days, you’ll peacefully take in your last breath.* What would you do with the time you had left? Would you call friends? Would you retire? Would you want to see your family? Are there places in the world you’ve longed to see? What are the things that would be important to you to accomplish in your last 30 days?
“I hear you.” Listening is a very simple act. It’s a subtle act. It is something that we do naturally with the people we love, and when things are going smoothly. Yet one of the most powerful statements that we can ever make is to say honestly, “I hear you. I recognize what you’re going through.” What is listening? Being open to hearing not only the words the speaker is saying, but also to her tone of voice, to read her body language, and to be open to the emotions she is displaying. Sometimes it means being aware of what she is NOT saying. It can mean listening to the particular choice of words – how general are they? How specific? How much is this person answering a question or how much is she avoiding answering?
New York City is a notoriously expensive place to live. Its housing market can create unique opportunities and challenges for couples who are getting divorced. This may come up when a couple is living in an apartment that is rented below market rate — the spouse who is moving out will have to pay a much higher rent and therefore might need more cash to meet the monthly budget. It is always a challenge to stretch a budget over two homes!
Your wedding day is only a few months off and your fiancé nervously mentions that he would like a prenuptial agreement. You are taken off guard. “But don’t you trust me?” you cry. “It’s not that,” he stammers. “It’s just that, that I will be disowned if I don’t…”
Our families grow and change over our lifetimes. We transition from the family we were born into to the ones we create. We form different types of families by falling in love, by having babies, by adopting children, by divorcing, by being step-parents, by having (or being) God parents, or by treating extended family like our own. Our children grow up and leave, our parents may move in with us. As a result, the idea of the nuclear family is becoming more and more obsolete. I’ve always been fascinated by these myriad different configurations, and by how our families grow and change. I see myself as a shepherd—to assist people with these family transitions. I try to help people be mindful about the processes they are using, and to make these changes in a way that is creative and supportive and as smooth as possible. And it is an honor and a privilege to do so. Here are some examples of the work that I do:
I have always been fascinated by families. They drive us crazy and they keep us sane. They are the rock upon which we stand, and can be the bane of our existence. We all know what it is like to be somebody’s child, and many of us know what it is like to be somebody’s parent or somebody’s sibling. But each of our experiences is so particular. So different. This article takes a closer look at 2 very basic questions – What is a family? What is a parent? These may seem like easy questions, but what seems obvious is often not. In the homes of people across the country, parent-child relationships arise from biology, adoption, and custom. I have worked with adoptive parents, single parents, step-parents, foster parents, same-sex parents and teens who become guardians for their younger siblings. I have worked with Fresh Air Fund families who end up adopting, and with parents whose rights have been terminated yet end up raising their children after all. I have been awed by people who will step up to the plate when their nieces and nephews and grandchildren need help. All of these children deserve the love and protection of the grown ups who care for them, and all of these different configurations create family relationships. Yet the law tends to lag behind the pace of real life — not all of these families are legally recognized as such. Parenthood is considered a fundamental Constitutional right — so this is an important legal question.