Category: Family & Divorce

Hanging Out the Mediator Shingle Does Not Make You a Qualified Mediator
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Hanging Out the Mediator Shingle Does Not Make You a Qualified Mediator | Clare Piro

{4:18 minutes to read} I’ve heard many complaints regarding divorce mediation:

  • “It might be okay for simple matters but not for anything complicated.”
  • “It’s too touch-feely.”
  • “You give up all of your rights when you mediate.”
These types of complaints are easily dismissed as biased and uninformed; however, there are some complaints I’ve heard which I agree should be taken seriously.

Click here to read Clare Piro's full article...

Divorce On Your Mind? Fruit for Thought: Ripe vs. Unripe
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Divorce On Your Mind? Fruit for Thought: Ripe vs. Unripe | David Kellem

{Time to Read: 4 minutes} David’s Divorce Dictionary: R is for Ripeness Definition: As Shakespeare wrote in King Lear: Ripeness is all. In legal parlance, if a case is not “Ripe for Review” a court will decline to decide it—more facts need development or more preliminary procedures need to play out before the dispute is ready for judicial resolution.

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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.

Click here to read Jennifer Safian's full article...

What About Us? Divorcing Couples Who Don’t Have Children – Part 1
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 What About Us? Divorcing Couples Who Don’t Have Children – Part 1 | Ada Hasloecher

{3:12 minutes to read}  I recently received an email from a former client of mine who reached out to me asking the following question: “I was wondering if you could publish some articles about couples without children who would use mediation. I haven’t seen a lot of articles on mediation sites regarding couples without children who are looking to divorce. I have had several friends who don’t have children or have children that are grownups and no child support would be necessary should they divorce.”

Click here to read Ada Hasloecher's full article...

CPR for Parents: Communication Skills – Part 1
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CPR for Parents: Communication Skills - Part 1 | Jeff Zimmerman

Divorced parents benefit from modeling their communication pattern after business etiquette—it should be Civil, Polite, and Respectful (CPR). The idea is for each parent to take responsibility for their individual communication styles and focus on implementing CPR communication, regardless of what the other parent is doing (or not doing). When both parents commit to setting the standard for the best communication possible, then generally one parent will be communicating well even if the other slips occasionally.

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Top Divorce Questions: Who Pays The Legal Fees?
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Top Divorce Questions: Who Pays The Legal Fees? | Jason Isaacson

{2:40 minutes to read} Almost every new client that consults with our firm for a divorce proceeding asks one of two questions:

  1. Does my spouse have to pay for my lawyer? OR

  2. Do I have to pay for my spouse’s lawyer?

The answer comes as a surprise to most. The Domestic Relations Law has a rebuttable presumption that the “monied” spouse will pay the “non-monied” spouse's attorney's fees. The idea behind the law is to try and level the playing field when there is a big discrepancy between the incomes of the divorcing parties. After all, the law doesn't want the person with less money to be at a disadvantage.

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Blame – Divorce’s Unfriendly Bedfellow Uncovered
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Blame – Divorce’s Unfriendly Bedfellow Uncovered | Rachel Alexander

{5:06 minutes to read} Let’s lift the blind on blame. If blame had a whistle blower, what would he say?

BLAME – What is it really about? I get aggravated when a news story breaks and the first minutes concern themselves with who is to blame rather than what happened and what’s being done in response.

Click here to read Rachel Alexander's full article...

No Whining on the Yacht
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No Whining on the Yacht | Clare Piro

{4:00 minutes to read} I recently heard an interview of Connie Shultz, the spouse of Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio. She shared that since 2007, the motto of her life has been "no whining on the yacht." It began after her husband had just been elected Senator. She was publishing her second book, and life was good. At one point, she complained to her editor about the deletion of a litany of stories detailing the wrongs she felt occurred in the senate race. Her editor insisted the sections remain out and said “no whining on the yacht.” She reminded Connie how much in her life was going well, and that she really didn’t need to focus on every slight when she was in such a good place.

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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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I Hear You
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I Hear You | Joy Rosenthal

“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?

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Warning! Don’t Violate the Child Contingency Rule!
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Warning! Don’t Violate the Child Contingency Rule! | Bob Bordett

In a divorce decree, if any amount of specified money becomes reduced:

A. Upon the happening of any contingency related to the child or

B. At a time that can be clearly associated with a contingency related to the child, then the amount of the reduction will be treated as child support, rather than alimony.

Code Sec. 71(c)(2). Reg. §1.71-1T(c)

What is a contingency? A contingency is an event related to a child, regardless of whether the event is likely to occur.

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Drawing On My Family’s Painful Divorce Experience to Help My Clients Avoid The Same
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Why did you choose to be a divorce lawyer? This is a common question people ask me, and the answer I commonly give is that I initially wanted to work in an area where I could litigate and work with people — as opposed to working with corporations or parcels of land. Family law seemed like a good fit for that. I eventually realized that litigation wasn’t the right path for me or my clients. I’m not so much a fighter as I am an advocate. And that’s why I left litigation behind and moved to collaborative law and mediation. That’s the short answer.

Click here to read Andrea Vacca's full article...

Going Through a Divorce? Don’t Forget to Take a Vacation!
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Going Through a Divorce? Don’t Forget to Take a Vacation! | Fabienne Swartz

{2:15 minutes to read} There is a mistaken belief that if you are going through a divorce, your life should immediately change for the worse. This is simply not realistic — or very humane, if you ask me. People going through divorce are human beings with needs, including the need to vacation. The break from the pressure, anxiety, and stress that vacations offer is often a powerful antidote to the stress of divorce.

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Best Practices for Divorced Parents With College Freshmen
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Best Practices for Divorced Parents With College Freshmen | Lauren Behrman

It is hard for any parent to send their children off to college for the first time. The last two years of high school are so focused on the outcome of this process, creating increasing tension and expectation.  SATs, college tours, essays and applications, and then waiting with baited breath for the colleges to send acceptances all raise the temperatures of parents and children.

Click here to read Lauren Behrman's full article...

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.

Click here to read Jennifer Safian's full article...

Mediation: When “Lawyering Up” May Result in “Lawyering Down”
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Mediation: When “Lawyering Up” May Result in “Lawyering Down” | Sandy Balick

{5:24 minutes to read} Noting that, especially recently, even lawyers have been “lawyering up” (at least in our nation’s capital), Wall Street Journal columnist Ben Zimmer (June 24, 2017) set out to trace the origins of the phrase. The columnist traces the phrase “lawyering up” to the popular TV program NYPD Blue and, more directly, to an ex-cop writer for the show, Bill Clark. “Lawyer up” was familiar police vernacular to the detective-turned-writer. For present purposes, let’s just say the phrase signals a girding to do battle in a legal forum. As to its full, police-speak aspect, the whole article is worth your attention.

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How I Practice: An Interview with the New York State Bar Association
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How I Practice: An Interview with the New York State Bar Association | Deborah E. Kaminetzky

I am very honored to have had the opportunity to sit down with the New York State Bar Association and share how I practice law and organize my business. NYSBA has wonderful resources on their site, including the How I Practice section, which offers tips, tricks, and lessons to other attorneys.

Click here to read Deborah E. Kaminetzky's full article...

Mediation and the Japanese Art of Kintsugi
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Mediation and the Japanese Art of Kintsugi | Susan Ingram

{2:30 minutes to read}  Kintsugi is a centuries-old Japanese master craft for repairing broken pottery with lacquer mixed with powdered gold. If you’ve ever been to a museum exhibit of old Japanese ceramics, you may have noticed the patterns of gold veins that run through some of the pieces. These pieces had been broken at some point, and the gold clearly shows where the repairs had been made as the master craftsman put the piece back together again.

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Helpful Guidelines to Follow in Mediation
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Helpful Guidelines to Follow in Mediation | Clare Piro

{3:54 minutes to read} After working with a couple who had particularly good communication skills and consequently had achieved an agreement with relative ease, I gave some thought as to how this couple was different from some of my other clients. And then I remembered that, following the first 100 days of the new administration, my friend and fellow mediator, Ada Hasloecher, posted five lessons for parties in mediation. I decided I couldn’t do it any better myself, so with her permission, I am reprinting her post. Thank you, Ada!

Click here to read Clare Piro's full article...

Post-Divorce Parenting Communication: What you say, and how you say it, really matters to your children
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Post-Divorce Parenting Communication: What you say, and how you say it, really matters to your children | Lauren Behrman

Even though you may be divorcing, you are always going to be a family for your children.

If all goes according to plan, your future could include grandparenthood together. In the routine course of your children’s lives, there will be special moments (and probably some scary moments) that you’ll share with your parenting partner, including but not limited to: bar mitzvahs, confirmations or first communions, little league games, graduations, and perhaps the occasional wisdom tooth extraction or ER visit.

Click here to read Lauren Behrman's full article...

Blaming Your Spouse for Ending the Marriage Can Be a Critical Mistake
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Blaming Your Spouse for Ending the Marriage Can Be a Critical Mistake | Daniel R. Burns

{1:43 minutes to read} When Hank and Wendy first came to me to help mediate their divorce, Wendy reported that it was Hank that wanted to end the marriage. He had moved out of the house they shared with their two children and had moved in with his girlfriend. During the mediation session, Wendy stated on several occasions that it did not feel fair to her that she had to sell her house and not provide their children with everything they had before Hank left the house. Since he was the one that had decided to end the marriage, Wendy blamed Hank and felt that he should suffer all of the consequences and that her life should not have to change.

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Happy to Announce…
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Happy to Announce…  |  Rachel Alexander

{3:12 minutes to read} I am pleased to announce that on June 22, 2017, I became of counsel to the firm Gruber, Colabella, Liuzza and Thompson. This is the culmination of a long relationship with the first named partners, Mark Gruber, Esq. and Chris Colabella, Esq., who have been my go-to people since I began in the field almost ten years ago.

Click here to read Rachel Alexander's full article...

What is a QDRO?
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What is a QDRO? | Deborah E. Kaminetzky

A QDRO is a qualified domestic relations order. This is an order regarding retirement accounts. In a divorce, retirement accounts are frequently the subject of equitable distribution. Each party would be entitled to their marital share of the other’s retirement accounts. An evaluation is performed using what is known as the Majauskas formula. This formula is from a landmark case. Majauskas versus Majauskas. The formula determines which portion of the retirement account is marital and which is not. It also determines (depending on the length of the marriage) to how much each spouse is entitled.

Click here to read Deborah E. Kaminetzky's full article...

How to Avoid the 10% Penalty When Taking Money From a Defined Contribution Plan
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How to Avoid the 10% Penalty When Taking Money From a Defined Contribution Plan | Bob Bordett

Normally, distributions made before a participant attains age 59 1/2 are called “early distributions” and are subject to a 10% penalty tax. The tax does not apply, though, to early distributions upon death, disability, annuity payments for the life expectancy of the individual, or distributions made to an ex-spouse by a QDRO. The tax Reg (72)(t)(2)(C) states that when you take money out of a qualified plan in accordance with a written divorce instrument (a QDRO), the recipient can spend any or all of it without paying the 10% penalty. However, if an ex-spouse receives the 401(k) asset, there are some specific rules to be aware of.

Click here to read Robert Bordett's full article... 

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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Moving Out?
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Moving Out? | Joy Rosenthal

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!

Click here to read Joy Rosemthal's full article here...

Letting Go: How Forgiving Others is a Gift to Yourself
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Letting Go: How Forgiving Others is a Gift to Yourself | Fabienne Swartz

{2:06 minutes to read} Recently I was talking to someone who was having an emotional couple of weeks. After listening to her for some time, I saw something that I see often in people: not being able to let go and forgive.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean surrender and it doesn’t mean condoning. In fact, it has very little to do with the other person at all; it’s about you being comfortable with your own situation, even if you would have preferred for it to go differently. At the end of the day, the other person doesn’t get any benefit from it. The benefit is only to you.

Click here to read Fabienne Swartz's full article...