Author Archives: Katherine Miller

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About Katherine Miller

Katherine Miller is a family law attorney & owner of her own Collaborative Law & Mediation Offices in Westchester, New York.

EMAIL: katherine@westchesterfamilylaw.com

BIO: About Katherine

PHONE: 914-246-2954

Why’s It SO HARD for People to Finish [Divorce]?
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Why’s It SO HARD for People to Finish [Divorce]? | Katherine Miller

{5:00 minutes to read} One thing that is a very well known professional phenomenon is that, when people get toward the end of a negotiation, something comes up. Usually, a relatively small something becomes very emotionally significant to the parties that stops them from settling, right before the end. I remember, as an example, the first case I ever went to try, decades ago. It was a pretty big case. There were three children and a lot of real property. We had settled the entire thing and were about to go into the courtroom to put the Stipulation of Settlement onto the record.

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Consulting or Review Attorneys in Mediation – Part 2
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Consulting or Review Attorneys in Mediation – Part 2 | Katherine Miller

{3:45 minutes to read} In my last article, I discussed the role of review attorneys in mediation. In this continuation, I’ll discuss the role of a consulting attorney in comparison. Where the review attorney is usually brought into a mediation toward the end of the process, the consulting attorney is brought in early. When working with clients as consulting attorney, I consult with them either inside or outside of the mediation room. Outside the Room I usually talk to my clients before and after their mediation sessions, outside the mediation room.

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Consulting or Review Attorneys in Mediation – Part 1
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Consulting or Review Attorneys in Mediation – Part 1 | Katherine Miller

{6:00 minutes to read} It’s a really good idea for a divorcing couple in mediation to have a consulting or review attorney to act as a matrimonial medium.  What is the role of attorneys in a mediation? Sometimes parties believe that lawyers are a threat to the mediation process itself. In other mediations, it is assumed that lawyers are the main players. In commercial mediations, it is almost exclusively the case that lawyers are in the room and playing a big role.

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3 Important Things to Look for in a Mediator
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3 Important Things to Look for in a Mediator | Katherine Miller

{3:30 minutes to read} You’re looking for a mediator? Below are 3 important things to look for in your search.  1. Training Clearly, anyone you go to should have training—and a lot of it! It’s important to recognize that not all training is the same, and not all models of mediation are the same. Be sure to find out:

  • The training the mediator has;
  • The model they work in; and
  • Their specific process (how they work).
It’s important to find these things out because a mediator’s method may be different than the client’s expectations.

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3 Reasons to Be Nice to Your Spouse During Your Divorce
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3 Reasons to Be Nice to Your Spouse During Your Divorce | Katherine Miller

{2:40 minutes to read} Reason #1: You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.  You are never going to get what you want unless you figure out what your spouse wants and some way to give it to them. Divorces are rarely a zero-sum game, yet it can feel dangerous for people to engage in conversations where they actually listen to each other. It’s important for you to stay in the house” sounds like, “I’m going to let you stay in the house.”

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Who Do YOU Want to Be in Your Divorce?
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Who Do YOU Want to Be in Your Divorce? | Katherine Miller

{3:30 minutes to read} Michele Lowrance, in her book The Good Karma Divorce, recommends finding and defining the person you want to be during your divorce. Think about how you would want your children to remember you as during the divorce process. Define that person and make your divorce decisions from a strong sense of who you define that person to be. If you do that, you will make the best decisions possible regarding your children, finances, etc. Oftentimes people say, “That’s great if two people can find the place to do that.”

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Should I Mediate My Divorce?
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Should I Mediate My Divorce? | Katherine Miller

[2:15 minutes to read} Should you mediate your divorce? People often wonder whether or not they should try to mediate their divorce. There are a few things that you need to be able to do in order to mediate your divorce and have it be a positive experience. You have to be willing to:

Speak for yourself—you at least have the desire to be able to speak about what’s most important to you.

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The 4th Step on Your Road to Divorce
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The 4th Step on Your Road to Divorce | Katherine Miller

In my last blog post, we talked about the first three steps to divorce: commit to a process; gather information that you need from the outside; and gather important information from the inside. In this blog post, I will discuss the fourth step. All seven steps will be further discussed in a book I’m writing. Step Four: Framing Interests  I just came from a meeting where there was a lot of arguing going on. In the middle of all that quarrelling, one party suddenly stopped, turned to the other and asked, “What’s important to you?

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When You’re Getting Divorced, Feelings Matter!
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When You’re Getting Divorced, Feelings Matter! | Katherine Miller

{2:30 minutes to read} Of course, feelings matter! Despite this reality, the way divorce discussions are framed by the law are not about feelings.  “Oh, you’re devastated by the betrayal of your husband who had an affair? That’s really too bad, I’m sorry for your pain, but it makes no difference.”   The law in New York, except in very extreme—and I mean VERY extreme—circumstances, does not recognize fault in financial determinations. In most states, fault is not something that is recompensed by money.

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How Can the 3 Levels of Conflict Improve Problem-Solving?
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How Can the 3 Levels of Conflict Improve Problem-Solving? | Katherine Miller

{4:00 minutes to read} As part of the mediation training we teach at The Center for Understanding in Conflict, we talk about “levels of conflict”—at the level of position, the level of interest, and the level of meaning. Level of Position: What Alleviates the Sense of Anxiety? Position is often what people say they want. In my mind, people reach a position because they have problems that make them anxious. During a divorce, the problems are obviously divorce related: People become anxious about where they’re going to live or how they’re going to pay the bills.

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Is Divorce Court Dehumanizing?
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Is Divorce Court Dehumanizing? | Katherine Miller

{2:30 minutes to read} Oftentimes, stereotypically, we think divorcing couples—both the person who decides to divorce and the person who doesn’t—are angry or revengeful. Although it’s true that those feelings are often present, but really—contrary to popular belief—the overwhelming emotion for both is sadness. Regardless of what has happened, what the story is, sadness prevails as the dominant emotion.

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Are You Jumping to Conclusions?
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Are You Jumping to Conclusions? | Katherine Miller

{3:15 minutes to read} It’s a well-known fact that people living together for a long period of time take each other for granted. They make assumptions about the other person’s intentions and this isn’t usually a good thing. Spouses wind up jumping to the wrong conclusion and think that they’re being criticized. One of the spouses could be recounting what happened at Thanksgiving five years ago. The storyteller is trying to explain his or her own perspective.

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Going Beyond Anxiety and Positional Thinking During a Divorce
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Going Beyond Anxiety and Positional Thinking During a Divorce | Katherine Miller

{3:31 minutes to read} When people are divorcing, they are often filled with intense anxiety. They feel compelled to solve whatever is causing their anxiety—sometimes before they are ready to do so. All too often, they want to alleviate the anxiety even before they have the information that they need to solve the problem in the best way. They might be missing “outside” information such as having a grasp on the marital finances.

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The Paradoxical Theory of Change: Can You Defy Expectations?
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The Paradoxical Theory of Change: Can You Defy Expectations? | Katherine Miller

{2:25 minutes to read} The paradoxical theory of change is an idea that comes out of Gestalt therapy. According to the theory, if people feel understood and affirmed as who and where they are, they feel free to move on and be something different—which is paradoxical on its face. This idea is important whenever a negotiation is taking place, but most strikingly when in divorce.

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3 Dynamics That Will Destroy a Relationship
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3 Dynamics That Will Destroy a Relationship | Katherine Miller

{4:00 minutes to read} It is not unusual for married couples to develop unhealthy ways of settling disputes between them. Defensiveness, dismissiveness, and competitiveness often insinuate themselves into the minutia of everyday life, turning the business of maintaining a family into an enterprise characterized by a lack of supportive and meaningful communication and connection. If any of these three dynamics exist in your relationship, you may need to take stock—and perhaps seek professional guidance.

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It’s Spring, and the Prenups Are Blooming
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It’s Spring, and the Prenups Are Blooming | Katherine Miller

{3:15 minutes to read} Because people tend to get married in summer, late winter and early spring are always prenup seasons. There are 2 aspects to every prenuptial agreement: the legal aspect of what goes into the agreement, and the emotional aspect. A prenup is a challenging thing to negotiate. Everyone knows this to be true. If you are thinking about getting married and considering a prenup, it’s helpful to think about why it can be so hard.

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Creating & Maintaining Calm During Conflict Resolution: Establish Process Groundwork Early On
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Creating & Maintaining Calm During Conflict Resolution: Establish Process Groundwork Early On | Katherine Miller

{3:20 minutes to read} Contrary to popular opinion, the fastest divorce is not necessarily the best.  In order to successfully move through difficult discussions, the divorcing couple needs to take the time to create an infrastructure for the conflict resolution process.  This groundwork helps the couple manage expectations, work toward a resolution, and maintain a greater sense of calmthroughout the process. Devoting time to this conversation helps to immediately begin structuring the process. By doing so, the couple will

  • establish how to converse with each other;

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Confused, Scared, and Under Pressure Is No Way to Divorce
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Confused, Scared, and Under Pressure Is No Way to Divorce | Katherine Miller

{3:19 minutes to read} Toward the end of any negotiation, a flurry of activity swarms the lives of all the people involved in the case. The parties’ legal teams use this final round of writing and editing as an important quality control check, despite the overwhelming pressure to wrap up the negotiations. Divorce mediation is no different, and many emotions are involved—from anxiety to exasperation. Cost can also be a major factor weighing on people’s minds, which leads mounting pressure to get things done quickly and efficiently.

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Silence the Greek Chorus: The Importance of Decreasing Anxiety & Increasing Trusted Advisors
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Silence the Greek Chorus: The Importance of Decreasing Anxiety & Increasing Trusted Advisors | Katherine Miller

{3:00 minutes to read} It’s interesting to me that people, in general, offer up advice — some invited, most not — to their divorcing friends and family. Divorce and dieting seem to be the two areas people feel free to intrude. In contrast, when somebody has a serious health issue, opinions and advice are less forthcoming. In ancient Greek drama, the chorus provided commentary for the audience about the events of the enacted tragedy. The Greek chorus had a useful purpose.

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Valentine’s Day: A Symbol of Love, or Marriage … or Both?
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Valentine’s Day: A Symbol of Love, or Marriage … or Both? | Katherine Miller

{3:15 minutes to read} As the romanticized holiday of Valentine’s Day approaches, I took an informal survey amongst my colleagues, comprised mainly of lawyers and other divorce professionals. Are people who get married on Valentine’s Day more likely than the general population to get divorced? In our unanimous opinion, the answer is yes. Valentine’s Day represents the over-simplification and romanticization of a long-term relationship and marriage. Disappointment and disillusionment often ensue from this two-dimensional approach. It represents a misunderstanding of what makes marriages work.

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Don’t Just Survive The Holidays, Enjoy Them! (A Pocket Guide for Divorcees)
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Don’t Just Survive The Holidays, Enjoy Them! (A Pocket Guide for Divorcees) | Katherine Miller

{4:00 minutes to read} The holidays are approaching and, in lieu of excitement, profound realization sets in for many newly divorced parents: This will be the first time I will not spend the holidays with my children. Disrupted holiday traditions are immensely difficult to bear, as is the idea of impending loneliness on the most relevant holidays. Change is assured, yet it is possible not only to survive it but to also enjoy it. So, put that frozen TV dinner back and make a plan to embrace something new and different during the holiday season!

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The Key to Successfully Working with High-Conflict Couples: Stick to the Basics!
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The Key to Successfully Working with High-Conflict Couples: Stick to the Basics! | Katherine Miller

{4:30 minutes to read} The heat is rising. Tension is mounting. A crossroad emerges in the mediation session, and it’s unclear which way it will go. Will it turn productive or combative? The best way to ensure a productive session with high-conflict couples is to stick to the basics. There are 4 principles that will help you through the most challenging sessions with clients: 1. Communication & Understanding It is important that I, as the mediator, convey and communicate an understanding of where the couple “is” presently.

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The Secret Language of Couples: What Lies Beneath the Words?
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The Secret Language of Couples: What Lies Beneath the Words? | Katherine Miller

{3:00 minutes to read} 

Am I correct in understanding that this is what you meant? 

vs. 

Is THAT what you meant?!

Even on the written page it is clear that there is a distinction between these two questions. While the point of both questions is to discern intention, the tone of each question is distinctly different. The former implies curiosity while the latter implies judgment. In mediation, couples frequently utilize a subtle, secret language. To the outsider – the mediator – the literal meaning of the words may appear benign.

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Using Transparency in Your Practice: Be Present, Effective & Authentic
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Using Transparency in Your Practice: Be Present, Effective & Authentic | Katherine Miller

{3:35 minutes to read} Have you ever read a book that you found so incredibly helpful that you immediately had to share its wisdom? This is how I felt after I read “The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom” by Don Miguel Ruiz. Based on Toltec tradition, the author states that if you live by these four agreements then your life will “become filled with grace, peace and unconditional love.”

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Surprise! People Using Ashley Madison Have No Intention of Divorcing
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Surprise! People Using Ashley Madison Have No Intention of Divorcing | Katherine Miller

{2:10 minutes to read} As a divorce lawyer, I often hear people’s stories of infidelity, whether or not they are pursuing relationships outside of their marriage. I had never heard of the adultery-themed website AshleyMadison.com until it made headlines recently. I’ve met with clients who have caught their spouses on Match.com or some other standard dating website, but never Ashley Madison.

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Can Communicating Your Needs Save You from a Divorce
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Can Communicating Your Needs Save You from a Divorce | Katherine Miller

{3:40 minutes to read} As a divorce attorney, I am often asked: What leads people to divorce? Is it problems with…

  • Money?
  • Sex?
  • Kids?
My observation is that all of these problems and more are often caused by a common underlying theme: a failure to communicate. As I listen to my clients, I am often reminded of The Gift of the Magi, the short story written by O. Henry, in which a couple falls on hard times.

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The Art of Research: How Do You Choose Your Divorce Attorney?
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The Art of Research: How Do You Choose Your Divorce Attorney | Katherine Miller

{3:20 minutes to read} I’ve noticed a contrast between the way people choose an attorney compared to how they may choose the best medical options available to them. A friend of mine needs hip replacement surgery. She has researched doctors and hospitals. She has researched the ways to do the surgery and what prosthetics they may use. It’s been a whole process of researching the whats and the hows. Some of the questions facing my friend are:

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The Storm Out: What to Do When it Happens
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The Storm Out: What to Do When it Happens | Katherine Miller

{2:00 minutes to read} In my previous article, I wrote about the dynamics of what happens when a person storms out of a mediation or any conversation between people in conflict. I wrote about what it might mean, when it happens and that the act of storming out is a communication. People storm out because they are either flooded and can’t take it anymore, or to indicate that the other person has gone too far.

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The Storm Out: What Is It, and Why Do We Do It?
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The Storm Out: What Is It, and Why Do We Do It | Katherine Miller

{3:45 minutes to read} Sometimes in divorce negotiations, whether it's a mediation or collaborative session, someone gets upset or feels unappreciated or insulted. Or they can't believe what the other person just said and they feel very strong emotions, at which point they just get up and storm out. The storm out is a physical, non-verbal communication. The main point is "why?" Why do people storm out? We've all done it; it's part of the human response.

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You Have a Choice … What Will You Do?
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{2:25 minutes to read} Something I often talk about and write about in my blog is choice or maybe better said the possibility of choosing. As human beings we are given an enormous array of choices in the way we act or in the way we feel. We have a choice as to how we respond to things. We have a choice as to which emotions to nurture and which impulse to follow when things go well or badly for us.

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