Author Archives: Melissa Burns

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About Melissa Burns

Melissa Burns is a divorce and family mediator in Glen Falls, New York.

EMAIL: info@burnsmediation.com

BIO: About Melissa

PHONE: (518) 529-5200

7 Things Your Mediator Wants You to Know, Part 1
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Authored by , re: Family & Divorce, on .
7 Things Your Mediator Wants You to Know, Part 1 | Melissa Burns

{2:42 minutes to read} When I tell people that I am a divorce mediator, it is usually met with a response such as, “Wow, you must have seen everything!” or “That must be a very challenging profession.” The answer is, yes, I have encountered many different scenarios, and sometimes it is challenging. But these are two important reasons why I do this work. Going through a divorce is very challenging and stressful. Mediators often see people at their worst. Why would anyone want such a private matter as their divorce to be made public? In Parts 1 and 2 of this article, we will share some things your mediator wants you to know.

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The Dreaded New Significant Other, Part 3
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Authored by , re: Family & Divorce, on .
The Dreaded New Significant Other, Part 3 | Melissa Burns

Part III: Challenges Ex-Spouses Face When Someone New Comes into the Picture

{3:18 minutes to read} In Parts 1 and 2, I discussed some of the concerns that separated or divorced parents deal with when a new significant other comes into the picture. The concerns I discussed focused on the safety and well-being of the children. In part 3, I will discuss the challenges ex-spouses face when they each begin to see new people, especially before an agreement is reached

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The Dreaded New Significant Other, Part 2
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Authored by , re: Family & Divorce, on .
The Dreaded New Significant Other, Part 2 | Melissa Burns

Part II: The Conversation About Concerns

{3:18 minutes to read} In my last blog, The Dreaded New Significant Other, Part 1 – The Possibility, I talked about the challenges parents sometimes face after a separation or divorce when a new person comes into the picture. I also shared a “best case scenario” about a mother who was grateful for her ex-husband’s new girlfriend. In this article, I will discuss the concerns from Part I and how parents can address them. 

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The Dreaded New Significant Other, Part I – The Possibility
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Authored by , re: Family & Divorce, on .
The Dreaded New Significant Other, Part I - The Possibility | Melissa Burns

Part I: The Possibility of a New Significant Other {3:00 minutes to read} Co-parenting can be challenging enough without adding a 3rd (or 4th) party to the mix! It’s not easy to see an ex with someone new, and a conversation about this possibility is sometimes very difficult. However, at some point, this is likely to happen. Divorced adults who respect each other’s right to autonomy can have a thoughtful conversation about a significant other and what, as parents, each one expects the new person’s role to be. Having this conversation with an ex and accepting the idea of a new relationship will usually make things easier for your children.

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Don’t Try This at Home! Part 2
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Authored by , re: Family & Divorce, on .

{2:30 minutes to read} When couples come to me seeking divorce mediation, the first thing we do is meet for a consultation. This meeting is important because it gives clients a chance to meet me and have their questions answered. I go over the divorce mediation process with them and explain the services that I provide. I also give a very brief overview of the kinds of things we will talk about in divorce mediation: parenting plans, real estate, assets, liabilities, etc.

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A Time for Reflection and New Beginnings
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Authored by , re: Family & Divorce, on .

{1:48 minutes to read} The end of one year and the beginning of another is a time of reflection for many people. We think about the events of the past 12 months and are sometimes compelled to make changes. These changes often involve some sort of improvement to physical health, but some people also use the New Year as an opportunity to make improvements to their emotional well-being. Mediation is a place where we can ameliorate the negative feelings and emotions that often accompany a separation or divorce.

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The Most Wonderful Time of the Year?
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Authored by , re: Family & Divorce, on .
The Most Wonderful Time of the Year? | Melissa Burns

{3:30 minutes to read} In mediation, parents who are ending a relationship with each other come up with a plan for how they would like to continue raising their children. Mediators encourage parents to create parenting plans that honor their values and goals. The resulting agreement is usually one in which parents have had to compromise, so each is able to spend time with the children. But this arrangement also results in one parent not being with their children at times. Shared parenting can be especially difficult during the holidays.

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Who Will Support You Through Your Divorce?
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Authored by , re: Family & Divorce, on .
Who Will Support You Through Your Divorce? | Melissa Burns

{2:18 minutes to read} Divorce is arguably one of the most stressful life events that people can go through. In my article, “The New Reality After Divorce,” I talked about the emotions that can sometimes accompany the divorce process. In particular, the new picture of their lives can be very difficult and scary. In addition, people often worry about their children and how they will react to a new family arrangement.

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Back to School: Shared Parenting Plan Challenges
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Authored by , re: Family & Divorce, Miscellaneous, on .
Back to School: Shared Parenting Plan Challenges | Melissa Burns

{3:18 minutes to read} As summer draws to a close, many parents are eager for their children to start school. While the largely unstructured summer schedule may be welcomed at first, it can be challenging for parents, especially those who work outside of their homes, to fill all of those days with activities for their children. When school resumes, so do the hectic and sometimes conflicting schedules that come with extracurricular activities.

  • Ava has soccer practice every Wednesday.
  • James has band practice on Thursdays.
  • Zoe has gymnastics class on Mondays.

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But What About the Children?
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Authored by , re: Family & Divorce, on .
But What About the Children? | Melissa Burns

{3:36 minutes to read} One of the biggest concerns couples face when going through a separation or divorce is how it will impact their children. This concern can result in people staying in an unhappy marriage—sometimes for years. Working with couples in divorce mediation, I have observed that the decision to stay together “for the children” may be made with good intentions. However, many times, this decision does not work as expected or best serve the children. Here are some things to consider:

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Why Mediate Maintenance?
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Authored by , re: Family & Divorce, Miscellaneous, on .

{3:00 minutes to read} I was at a mediation conference recently and listened to a presenter talk about the new spousal maintenance guidelines. This got me thinking: a spouse who chooses to not work, or to work part time for a portion of the marriage, can face enormous financial difficulties following a divorce. After hearing the maintenance presentation, I am concerned that the new law may not be fair to the individual who left the workforce for a period of time.

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Who Enforces the Parenting Plan?
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Authored by , re: Family & Divorce, on .
Who Enforces the Parenting Plan? | Melissa Burns

{3:42 minutes to read} In my blog post Child-Centered Parenting Plans, I discussed several things that my clients address as they come up with a plan for raising their children in separate households. One of the things we focus on is a parenting schedule, particularly if the children are younger. This includes a “regular” schedule and a “special events” schedule. The regular schedule is for days and weeks where the family’s schedules are consistent: work, school, extracurricular activities, etc. It outlines when each parent will spend time with the children, and what their responsibilities are during this time:

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Creating Clarity in Agreements
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Authored by , re: Family & Divorce, on .
Creating Clarity in Agreements | Melissa Burns

{3:00 minutes to read} At the beginning of a divorce, many couples have not considered the long-term changes that may unfold months or sometimes years down the road. When my clients are working toward an agreement, we often address some topics that they have not considered. These topics can be multi-faceted, and ambiguity in the resulting agreement can create problems if the terms and conditions are not well-thought-out and documented. Here are a couple of examples that illustrate how clarity can prevent misunderstandings in the future.

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Flying Blind
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Flying Blind | Melissa Burns

{1:52 minutes to read} In my last blog, I talked about contingency plans. Some couples come to mediation looking to come up with a short-term plan that they put into place while they sort out their feelings. They may also decide what their long-term goals are in the event that they determine the marriage is over. When I meet with clients for the first time, one thing that we discuss is what their current situation looks like and whether or not it is working for them. In some cases, the couple is still living together and, while neither wants to leave, continuing to live together is extremely stressful. In other cases, one spouse is living in another location or has imminent plans to do so.

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The New Reality After Divorce
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Authored by , re: Family & Divorce, on .
The New Reality After Divorce | Melissa Burns

{3:06 minutes to read} When couples are going through the divorce mediation process, they are sometimes in different places. Even though they know the marriage is over, for some individuals, this change in marital status is very difficult to accept. They feel a sense of failure for not being able (or willing) to make the marriage work, and selfish for wanting out. For others it is seeing how their lives are going to look after the divorce, that gives pause. Within many relationships, there are different roles/responsibilities for each person:

  • One handles the finances;
  • One maintains the home;
  • One is more involved in the day to day activities of the children; etc.

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Child-Centered Parenting Plans
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Authored by , re: Family & Divorce, on .
Child-Centered Parenting Plans | Melissa Burns

{2:42 minutes to read} When I work with couples who have children, we usually spend a significant amount of time coming up with a parenting plan. The focus of this conversation is not only how parenting is going to be different following a separation, but how it will be the same. The details of each parenting plan vary, depending on the ages of the children, but they usually include a discussion about:

  • child support;
  • health insurance; and
  • when each parent will spend time with the children, which may or may not include a specific schedule.

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When the Values of the Mediator and the Client Conflict
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Authored by , re: Family & Divorce, on .
When the Values of the Mediator and the Client Conflict | Melissa Burns

{2:54 minutes to read} Recently, I was reading a discussion on a divorce mediation group’s listserv about weapons in a mediation room. A mediator met with a couple, and one spouse, a police officer, was wearing a holstered gun. While few details were given, the scenario made me think about how I would feel in the same situation. On one hand . . . It may be perfectly normal to this couple that the individual walks around armed. Neither of them may have even been aware that the mediator was concerned. The gun may simply be part of this person’s daily ensemble, much like a handbag or umbrella.

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In the Best Interest of the Children or the Parents?
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Authored by , re: Family & Divorce, on .
In the Best Interest of the Children or the Parents? | Melissa Burns

by Melissa Burns {2.24 minutes to read} I was recently working with a couple and about to begin discussing their new parenting plan. Up until that point, both had been living in the same house, but one parent was about to move out. As is the case in many mediation sessions, the topic of the children brought with it:

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