Author Archives: Rachel Alexander

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About Rachel Alexander

Rachel Alexander is an attorney, mediator & founder of The Alexander Mediation Group in New York & New Jersey.
EMAIL: rachel@alexandermediation.com
BIO: About Rachel

“Someday” and “Maybe” Numbers: The Challenge of Dividing Retirement Assets Part 3
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Authored by , re: Asset Management, Family & Divorce, on .
“Someday” and “Maybe” Numbers: The Challenge of Dividing Retirement Assets Part 3 | Rachel Alexander

{4:00 minutes to read} In Part 2, we discussed marital vs non-marital retirement assets and how some of those assets require an actuary or other expert to figure out the “present value” before the asset can be divided.

We now arrive here: How do folks equitably divide these assets? Particularly because the present value doesn’t actually exist in a divisible form. It’s a theoretical, projected number!

Below are some popular options:

QDRO (NJ QDRO Overview)

A court order goes to the plan administrator, directing it to divide the asset in the way set forth in the order. This method avoids any tax consequences pursuant to this division at the time it is made.

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“Someday” and “Maybe” Numbers: The Challenge of Dividing Retirement Assets – Part 2
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Authored by , re: Asset Management, Family & Divorce, MEDIATION, on .
“Someday” and “Maybe” Numbers: The Challenge of Dividing Retirement Assets – Part 2 by Rachel Alexander

{4:00 minutes to read} Just because we determine a value for something does not mean we divide it!Often spouses are concerned that the mere mention of an asset puts it on the auction block and forfeits their exclusive rights to it. Not so!

Getting a comprehensive picture and value of ALL assets is an important part of creating a solid settlement agreement. An agreement should even specify assets whose separate nature is undisputed, with the other party waiving any rights, title or interest thereto.

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Look Who is Coming to the Mediation Table
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Authored by , re: MEDIATION, Miscellaneous, on .
Look Who is Coming to the Mediation Table by Rachel Alexander

{4:54 minutes to read} What happens when attorneys join clients in matrimonial mediation? It’s anyone’s guess!

Generally, in my practice, divorce mediations are intimate, including only the parties and the mediator. This often adds to the sense of confidentiality and privacy. It works well for many clients who want to speak candidly about difficult issues in a safe, unbiased environment.

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The Mediator Will See You Now…
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Authored by , re: Family & Divorce, MEDIATION, Miscellaneous, on .
The Mediator Will See You Now… | Rachel Alexander

{4:18 minutes to read} Often, with the best intentions, clients prepare for mediation by trying to resolve as many things as possible before setting foot in my office. They think they’re doing themselves a great service, getting a running head start. However, in my experience, the opposite is true. The time to see the mediator is immediately.

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Sundays, Bloody Sundays
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Authored by , re: Family & Divorce, MEDIATION, Parenting, on .
Sundays, Bloody Sundays by Rachel Alexander

{4:42 minutes to read} Sundays are not known to be the bright spot of the week. Sundays, especially Sunday evenings, can be bleak for everyone, but they can be particularly difficult for the newly divorced. On Sundays, the weekend shuts its eyes, and only Monday gleams on the horizon. For most, this means a return to work or school; a putting away of our freer selves; a tucking in and straightening out in preparation for our weekday responsibilities.

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Is There Room For Other Professionals in Mediation?
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Authored by , re: Family & Divorce, MEDIATION, Miscellaneous, on .
Is There Room For Other Professionals in Mediation? | by Rachel Alexander

{3:18 minutes to read} People going through divorce often discover they need more help than they initially imagined. Not only are they divorcing, but they now need:

  • Their own health insurance;
  • Life insurance to secure child support/alimony obligations;
  • Therapy to support the period of adjustment;
  • A real estate agent to list the home or find a new one;
  • A mortgage broker to refinance the home;

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Why Do People Get Divorced?
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Authored by , re: Family & Divorce, MEDIATION, on .

{6:12 minutes to read} First, it should be said, no one divorces lightly. No one has ever walked into my office and declared: “We heard there was a special on divorce. We weren’t considering it, but this deal is too incredible to pass up!” No one comes in because they’ve just had a bad day or are bored. Couples thinking about divorce are despairing. Divorce is an action of last resort.

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How Do We Understand Family During Divorce?
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Authored by , re: Family & Divorce, MEDIATION, Miscellaneous, on .
How Do We Understand Family During Divorce? by Rachel Alexander

{4:18 minutes to read} How do we understand family in a way that’s useful during divorce? First, it’s helpful to deconstruct and decide exactly and specifically what family means to you. When you spend some time “asking into” your initial wants, you can unearth your root values. For example, is it important to you to sleep under the same roof as your children? Of course that’s understandable, but what if we look further into it?

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What Are We Celebrating Here?
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Authored by , re: Family & Divorce, MEDIATION, on .
What Are We Celebrating Here? | Rachel Alexander

{3:54 minutes to read} The holidays, now encroaching practically on back-to-school week, are here again.  For many, ringing in the cheer has been replaced with wringing of the hands. The holidays are difficult for most of us at one time or another, but when you are in the throes of a pending or recent divorce, they can be especially hard. With the holiday season almost upon us, I have been thinking about what we are celebrating and what it means to be connected to one another.

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Curiosity: The Little Word that Could
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Authored by , re: Family & Divorce, MEDIATION, on .
Curiosity: The Little Word that Could | Rachel Alexander

{5:80 minutes to read} Curiosity: A simple word that can unlock possibilities, shift paradigms, and free us from the bondage of our own “rightness.” In Focus Oriented Therapy, we are called to settle into the here and now, sense into our body, check in with ourselves with a “childlike curiosity.” This invitation, this language, has amazed me. I have become enthralled with the concept of curiosity! It asks such a complete departure from unconscious living. It holds an almost touching possibility of compassionate attention.

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It Takes 2, Baby!? Or, What Happens When Only One Person Wants the Divorce?
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Authored by , re: Family & Divorce, MEDIATION, on .
It Takes 2, Baby!? Or, What Happens When Only One Person Wants the Divorce | Rachel Alexander

{6:48 minutes to read} In New Jersey, divorce requires only one willing party. So what about the other party? The one who doesn’t want the divorce? And how can this work in mediation? Mediation is sometimes believed to be an alternative only when both parties want divorce. I would suggest that mediation is still the best alternative, even for the party who doesn’t want to end the marriage. Because a divorce will occur, with or without the consent of the non-moving party, the question becomes not whether there will be a divorce but how it will be reached. Mediation is always the better process, but perhaps even more so for the one who hasn’t had the opportunity to initiate the divorce.

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The Magic of the Winter Picnic
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Authored by , re: Family & Divorce, MEDIATION, Parenting, on .
The Magic of the Winter Picnic | Rachel Alexander

{9:54 minutes to read} Divorce, Money and How [Much] to Insulate the Children One winter evening, when I was five, my mother announced we would be having a picnic for dinner. It was winter and dark outside, so I was dubious. She was unassailable. She spread out our regular picnic blanket in the living room by the fireplace, and when my father came home, the three of us ate a picnic-style dinner. The experience of eating with my parents on a picnic blanket on the floor on a regular weeknight for no purposeful reason at all was magical to me.

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Rachel “Andy Rooney” Alexander—An Op-Ed Blog
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Authored by , re: MEDIATION, Miscellaneous, on .
Rachel “Andy Rooney” Alexander—An Op-Ed Blog | Rachel Alexander

{3:18 minutes to read} Why is everything so truncated and terrible these days? Why can’t we have something that works well? Years ago, we had our credit cards swiped by store clerks. Then, we had to swipe them ourselves, and now we have chip cards, allegedly for our protection, that require considerably more time to process. Since I started using my chip card, I’ve had my first security breach. Chip credit cards—take longer, more complicated. Horrible!

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Divorce: Know When to Hold ‘Em, Know When to Fold ‘Em
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Authored by , re: Family & Divorce, Marriage, MEDIATION, on .
Divorce: Know When to Hold ‘Em, Know When to Fold ‘Em | Rachel Alexander

{5:36 minutes to read} Recently, a young man, Dave*, called the office, reeling from the discovery of his wife’s infidelity and, even more so, from the lies she told to cover it up. As a divorce mediator and family law attorney, it’s not unusual to receive a call from someone experiencing painful emotions. This young man wanted to schedule an appointment as soon as possible and begin an action for divorce. Dave was shaken, triggered and emotionally hijacked. He was in crisis and aiming to push through it into action.  

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The Difference Between the Mediator, the Draftsman, and Bartleby the Scrivener
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Authored by , re: MEDIATION, on .
The Difference Between the Mediator, the Draftsman, and Bartleby the Scrivener | Rachel Alexander

{7:18 minutes to read} On occasion, clients enter mediation with a proposed property settlement agreement in hand -- something they have put together in an attempt to get a head start on (and save money in) the mediation process. The parties want the family mediator (or family law attorney) to draft an agreement for them reflecting exactly what they proposed.

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Changing the Other vs Leaving Them Alone
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Authored by , re: Marriage, MEDIATION, on .
Changing the Other vs Leaving Them Alone | Rachel Alexander

Things would work, if only s/he would change {7:36 minutes to read} Many relationships seem to have to do with how the other person needs to change in order for the relationship to work. One spouse would be happy if only the other would return to work. The other spouse would be happy if only the other would be more sensitive and expressive. If only

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Why People Divorce: The Breakdown that Precedes the Breakup
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Authored by , re: Family & Divorce, on .
Why People Divorce: The Breakdown that Precedes the Breakup | Rachel Alexander

{4:12 minutes to read} As a divorce mediator, I’m often asked: Why do people get divorced? What went wrong? Money issues? Infidelity? Grew apart? Financial stress and diverging values around money certainly strain a marriage. It’s also safe to say infidelity neither strengthens trust nor solidifies relationships. But my working hypothesis is that, usually, there are certain other things that deteriorate first. Query: What makes a marriage fail? What makes a relationship thrive?

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Whose Side Are You On? The Same Side!
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Authored by , re: Family & Divorce, on .
Whose Side Are You On? The Same Side! | Rachel Alexander

{3:00 minutes to read} Not long ago, I heard something fairly remarkable in my mediation session. To set the scene (semi-fictionalized for the sake of confidentiality), last spring, my clients had an issue with childcare and had to bring their children—an 8-year-old boy and 9-year-old girl—along to mediation. While I don’t recommend it, in the particular circumstances, it was a reasonable option for these children. The session was at my home office during the summer, so the children were able to sit outside and mostly entertain themselves with electronic devices and one another.

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Alimony Ain’t Easy!
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Authored by , re: Family & Divorce, on .
Alimony Ain’t Easy! | Rachel Alexander

As a divorce mediator and family law attorney, I am often asked, “What’s the formula to calculate alimony?” In New Jersey, there is none. We do have a new alimony reform law adopted in September 2014, about which there has been (and continues to be) a lot of confusion. This blog post looks at the current factors used to determine alimony.

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Creating a Healthy Divorce Narrative for your Kids
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Authored by , re: Family & Divorce, on .
Creating a Healthy Divorce Narrative for your Kids | Rachel Alexander

There are a lot of recommendations about how to tell your children you are getting divorced. This article concentrates on what to convey to your kids after and about the divorce, and the reasons for your divorce in an ongoing way. In mediation, I counsel divorcing and post-divorce clients on this topic. We discuss and develop an agreed-upon narrative to be shared with the children.

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Parentification
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Authored by , re: Family & Divorce, on .
Parentification | Rachel Alexander

Childhood, until the mid-18th century, it is commonly believed, was not conceptualized as a particular stage in life. As reflected in pre-19th-century child portraiture, children were depicted, through dress and context, as miniature adults. While we may have moved away from rigid expectations of young children behaving like grown-ups, we still tend to glorify the precocious child who gracefully demonstrates mastery of adult tasks or behaves with adult aplomb.

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The Dissipation of Marital Assets
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Authored by , re: Miscellaneous, on .
The Dissipation of Marital Assets | Rachel Alexander

{4:31 minutes to read} Dissipation of marital assets is an important topic arising in matrimonial law and mediation. Towards the end of the marriage — (during the period when the marital relationship has irrevocably broken down) — during this period, when one spouse uses marital assets for his or her sole benefit, these expenditures may constitute a dissipation of marital assets. Dissipation must be evaluated based on the circumstances of each particular case.

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What Is ESP in New Jersey, and Do You Need a 6th Sense to Benefit?
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Authored by , re: Family & Divorce, on .
What Is ESP in New Jersey, and Do You Need a 6th Sense to Benefit? | Rachel Alexander

{5:36 minutes to read} When divorcing couples are on the (complex) litigation track, at a certain point in the process, they’ll be scheduled for an ESP. No clairvoyants or mediums needed. In New Jersey, ESP stands for Early Settlement Panel. ESP varies from county to county, each county having a slightly different preparation requirement and way of running things.

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