Category: Family & Divorce

perception and reality in divorce mediation
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perception and reality in divorce mediation | Jennifer Safuan

{3:06 minutes to read} I met with Jayne* and Will* for a consultation to explain the mediation process and give them the opportunity to ask questions before actually committing to this process. Jayne immediately said that she and Will disagreed on absolutely everything! Will piped up with “I disagree with that!” This was obviously an indication of the difficulties I would encounter with their case.

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

Court Is Like a Box of Chocolates…
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Court Is Like a Box of Chocolates… | Deborah E. Kaminetzky

What is an “attorney for the child” and what does it mean for my case? Often when parents who are divorcing are already in court and do not agree on custody, the court will assign an “attorney for the child.” This is an attorney who will interview both parents and the child or children. The attorney for the child will ask the child what their position is and if the child is seven years of age or older, they will advocate that child’s position to the court.

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

Disclosure is Not Optional
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Disclosure is Not Optional | Clare Piro

{3:36 minutes to read} I recently attended a panel discussion on how to determine income in a matrimonial mediation. The panel consisted of a litigator, a mediator and a financial professional. The idea was to show the different approaches each would take in cases where income was hard to determine, such as self-employed parties, cash income, other complicated financial situations, or when a party just refuses to disclose relevant information. That got me to thinking about disclosure in general and how it can evolve in mediation.

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Can a Mediator be Omnipartial?
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Can a Mediator be Omnipartial? | Susan Ingram

{1:00 minute to read} I explained in my last article that I would be reposting two earlier blogs on the subject of mediator impartiality, since this topic is of great interest to clients and professionals alike. The second blog was entitled “Can Mediators be Impartial and Address an Imbalance of Power?I describe my role of mediator as being omnipartial toward all of the parties.

Click here to read Susan Ingram's full article...

What Do You Mean I’m Not Really Married? Or Not Really Divorced?
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What Do You Mean I’m Not Really Married? Or Not Really Divorced? | Deborah E. Kaminetzky

When people call our office asking about divorce or family court issues, we tell them the various documents we need to look at in order to best advise them. One of the documents we want to look at is their marriage certificate. Often, we have people who consider themselves married, have lived together for years, had children together, bought property together and they are surprised that they are not, in fact, married. New York has no “common law marriage.” There is an exception to that rule. New York will give full faith and credit to a marriage from another state or country where it was recognized. For example if you lived together in a state which did recognize common law marriage prior to moving to New York, you will be considered married here as well. People who get married in a religious ceremony in another country, Israel, for example, will be considered married here even though they did not have a secular marriage.

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

Help! Is My Attorney in Bed With My Ex’s Attorney?!
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Help! Is My Attorney in Bed With My Ex’s Attorney?! | Cheryl Stein

On several occasions, I have been the incoming attorney where the client did not trust the attorney they initially retained, because they felt that attorney was in bed with their ex’s attorney, so to speak. They had observed the two attorneys — opposing counsel to one another on the given case — engage in overly friendly behavior and banter in the court hallways and overheard their attorney cutting deals and verbally committing to settlement agreements to the opposing counsel that they had not spoken about with them (their own client) previously.

Click here to read Cheryl Stein's full article...

Divorce and 401(k)s and IRAs – Part 4
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Divorce and 401(k)s and IRAs – Part 4 | Ada Hasloecher

{4:30 minutes to read} In the preceding 3 articles, we have covered the subjects of retirement funding, comparing 401(k)s and IRAs, and dividing a 401(k) plan. As you will see, IRA plans almost never require a QDRO. However, many of them do have detailed paperwork which can look similar in scope to the language in a QDRO document. Typically, the plan will want to see a copy of the section of the Settlement Agreement (Separation Agreement) that spells out how the parties agreed to split the IRA along with their paperwork. It’s always wise to prepare the paperwork well in advance of the judgement of divorce as there can be a lag time with the paperwork.

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

the greek chorus revisited
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the greek chorus revisited | Jennifer Safian

{3:06 minutes to read} A few years ago, I wrote an article called “The Greek Chorus.” The article centered around all the well meaning people who think they know what you are going through and want to dispense advice on your situation. The effects of “friendly advice” continue to be a problem with many of my clients, so I thought that it might be helpful to take another look at this topic. Divorce is a very scary proposition, and when we are scared, many of us tend to gravitate towards others for answers and support.

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Continuing Education for Mediation
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Continuing Education for Mediation | Deborah E. Kaminetzky

Mediation is gaining in popularity, so much so that there are a proliferation of people advertising that they do mediation. Some of them are attorneys, some of them are not. Many of them have had absolutely no training in mediation, yet will sit down with a couple and “mediate.” New York has no licensure for mediators, so it is difficult for the consumer to determine whether a person claiming to be a mediator is actually trained in the process or just trying to help facilitate a compromise. One can even get a mediation certificate online.

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

A Letter from China: International Collaboration with Mental Health and Divorce Professionals
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A Letter from China: International Collaboration with Mental Health and Divorce Professionals | Lauren Behrman

{Read in 3:30 minutes} Dear Colleagues: We’re sending this blog from Wuhan, China, where we are enjoying a few days of sightseeing and absorbing Chinese hospitality, history and culture from our wonderful colleagues and their graduate students.

Jeff is the current president of The Society for the Advancement of Psychotherapy,(SAP) Division 29 of the American Psychological Association (APA). The division has been working on increasing its international presence, and in 2016, SAP formalized an affiliation with Oriental Insight—a similar organization in China Normal University School of Psychology which was founded by Professor Jiang Guangrong, a leading psychologist at Central China. Professor Jiang is one of the leaders in the field of Counseling Psychotherapy and Mental Health on the Chinese mainland.

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

The Freedom to Factor in Mediation
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The Freedom to Factor in Mediation | Sandy Balick

3:12 minutes to read} In concluding this series on Equitable Distribution in mediation, I want to circle back to a topic introduced in my first installment: That equitable distribution is not necessarily equal distribution. This being the case, how are parties to divide their assets and liabilities in the process of winding up their marital estates? Left to a court to decide, the 14 criteria established by New York’s recent revamp of its equitable distribution law would be applied to the facts of the case. A glance at some recent opinions confirms that many judges go to great lengths to parse out competing spousal claims to assets and marital debts.

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“Throuple”: A Case of Polyamorous Custody
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An interesting decision out of Suffolk County recently established custodial rights of a non-biological parent who was part of a polyamorous relationship. In Dawn M. v. Michael M., the court essentially affirmed the validity of a non-traditional family composed of two women and one man. Though their names have been revealed in the media, for our purposes we will call the family members Mom 1, Mom 2, Dad, and Child. Mom 1 and Dad were a married couple who had attempted to conceive with great difficulty. They utilized in vitro fertilization, but unfortunately Mom 1 miscarried.

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

Mediating a Divorce After a Long-Term Marriage
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Mediating a Divorce After a Long-Term Marriage | Don Sinkov

{2:30 minutes to read} I am often pleasantly surprised when couples who have been married for 20, 30, 40 years or more are able to come to mediation to be divorced. Sometimes I wonder whether I could have done that; whether I could sit next to my soon-to-be ex-spouse and say out loud, “I want to divorce you and move on with my life. I want to live alone and not be married to you anymore.” How incredibly difficult would that be in a private setting, but here we are, saying this in front of the mediator, a stranger whom we just met.

Click here to read Don Sinkov's full article...

Divorce and 401(k)s and IRAs – Part 3
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 Divorce and 401(k)s and IRAs – Part 3 | Ada Hasloecher

{4:54 minutes to read} In Part 1 and Part 2 of BJ Mann’s article on retirement plans and divorce, we talked about retirement funds in general and the differences between 401(k)s and IRAs. Now to the topic of dividing the plans. No matter how these plans are divided (equally or some other sharing arrangement), the math must be done first.

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

 

family dispute? ask a question
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family dispute? ask a question | Jennifer Safian

{1:36 minutes to read} With our aging population and the growth of multi-generation families, the need for family mediation is increasing as conflicts arise. These conflicts come in all shapes and sizes:

  • Disputes between siblings over the care of aging parents
  • Squabbles regarding distribution of assets in inheritances
  • Disagreements regarding the sharing of family vacation homes
  • Resentments of elder parents feeling that they don’t get the attention they need from their children
  • Money disputes
And many others. Click here to read Jennifer Safian's full article...

Parallel Parenting: Making the Best of a Bad Situation
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Parallel Parenting: Making the Best of a Bad Situation | Bob Bordett

I very much appreciate working on divorce cases with a team, as it has so much value for clients. Mental health professionals can bring much needed clarity to very difficult situations. The following article, written by Howard Dructman, PhD and Marsha Schechtman, LCSW, Atlanta Behavioral Consultants, explains how the concept of parallel parenting works: A literature search of peer-reviewed professional journal articles yields very few articles that contain references to parallel parenting.

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

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.

Click here to read Katherine Miller's full article...

There Is a Person Behind Every Label: Watch Out for the Diagnosis Trap
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There Is a Person Behind Every Label: Watch Out for the Diagnosis Trap | Jeff Zimmerman

{4 minutes to read} In any context, a mental health diagnosis is a serious, meaningful term that should not be taken lightly, and should only be made by a mental health professional who has personally assessed the client and is trained to diagnose the condition at hand. Although diagnoses are often casually offered colloquially as labels, careful assessment and expertise are truly required in order to make an official diagnosis.

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Another Reason to Keep Your Custody Dispute Out of Court: It’s a Black Hole
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Kafkaesque: of, relating to, or suggestive of Franz Kafka or his writings; especially: having a nightmarishly complex, bizarre, or illogical quality, as in Kafkaesque bureaucratic delays. (Miriam-Webster online dictionary) As ProPublica recently revealed in detail, Kafka’s dystopian vision is a terrifying reality for many New Yorkers who have had judges appoint forensic psychologists in their custody dispute cases. In Joaquin Sapien’s thorough (and thoroughly disturbing) article, For New York Families in Custody Fights, a ‘Black Hole’ of Oversight, he reports on the story of a mother separated from her son as a result of an error-filled and incomplete analysis made by a court-appointed forensic psychologist.

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

The Power of a Sincere Apology
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The Power of a Sincere Apology | Clare Piro

{3:24 minutes to read} I thought it was interesting that the Personal Health columnist for the New York Times, Dr. Jane Brody, wrote a column entitled “The Right Way to Say I’m Sorry.” She posits that taking responsibility for your actions and offering a true apology to someone you’ve hurt actually is a matter of your own health and well being. Dr. Brody refers to these words from Harriet Lerner’s Why Won’t You Apologize? as to why an apology can be “central to health, both physical and emotional.”

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

Intra-Family Commercial Mediation: Get Back At Or Get Back Together?
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Intra-Family Commercial Mediation: Get Back At Or Get Back Together? | Gary Shaffer

{2.54 minutes to read} All happy families may be alike, but all families with intra-family disputes involving money are unhappy in their own way. Resentments build up slowly over time, people develop allies and enemies, recollections diverge, and “alternate truths” emerge. Each family has its own unique set of alternate truths that must, at a minimum, be recognized for a mediation to be successful. The goal of an intra-family mediation is not to get family members to agree on a single truth. This may be emotionally impossible, and recollections can be fuzzy and subject to interpretation. Words can be stated in many different ways and with different intent. What was meant one way may have been taken in another. 5, 10, or 15 years later, the recordings are lost. And to some extent they may be irrelevant.

Click here to read Gary Shaffer's full article...

Have the Talk Before You Take the Walk
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Have the Talk Before You Take the Walk | Deborah E. Kaminetzy

Most couples get together based on attraction, discuss one or two main expectations or goals, fall in love and decide to get married. They then focus on wedding plans, thinking that if they can negotiate a large event between two families and come out unscathed by the wedding date that they will succeed in their marriage. So why do so many divorces occur?

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

Like Donald Trump, Pay Your Fair Share of Taxes, but Don’t Overpay
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Like Donald Trump, Pay Your Fair Share of Taxes, but Don’t Overpay | Don Sinkov

{2:24 minutes to read} As the years have gone on, I’ve been really working hard to make my mediation practice successful. Most of my clients are now coming from referrals, with a smaller percentage coming from internet advertising. My practice has grown steadily, and now it is time to do my 2016 tax return.

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Prepare and Plan to Ensure that Children’s Special Events are Truly Special
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Prepare and Plan to Ensure that Children’s Special Events are Truly Special | Lauren Behrman

{Read in 3:30 minutes} Children’s special events deserve to be memorable and positive. Whether it’s a graduation, confirmation, bar or bat mitzvah, recital or play, children benefit from divorced parents who plan ahead to ensure that the event—and the memory of the event—will not be spoiled by parental conflict.

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Divorce and 401(k)s and IRAs – Part 2
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Divorce and 401(k)s and IRAs – Part 2 | Ada Hasloecher

{3:54 minutes to read} In Part 1 of this series, BJ Mann reviewed the three main types of retirement funding. In Part 2, we move on to the important details for the mainstay of the typical retirement plans: 401(k)s (and their sisters) and IRAs in all their permutations. These do not address pensions, which will be discussed in a future post. Of particular interest is the difference between qualified and non-qualified plans, which require different sets of instructions for dividing.

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

10 faqs on divorce and taxes
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10 faqs on divorce and taxes | Jennifer Safian

{5:06 minutes to read} Many of the financial decisions made by couples going through divorce have tax implications. And while I am not a tax specialist and do not calculate the taxes that may be due following my divorcing clients’ decisions, I always alert them that taxes may be due so they can discuss those points with a tax professional. Since we are now about one month away from April 15, I chose to list here 10 of the most frequently encountered tax questions during the divorce process.

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The Importance of Dates & Fluctuations in Divorce
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The Importance of Dates & Fluctuations in Divorce | Sandy Balick

{4:42 minutes to read} Mediation empowers divorcing spouses to define their own standards of fairness and helps them to make maximum use of the considerable freedom New York law allows in shaping their own settlements. This entry focuses on selection of appropriate valuation dates for financial accounts, including bank and retirement accounts. As noted in an earlier blog in this series, the law views marriage as an economic partnership, and the assets (as well as liabilities) to be divided in equitable distribution are (with a few exclusions) those acquired from the wedding date until the initiation of divorce proceedings (referred to as the “commencement date”).

Click here to read Sanford E. Balick's full article...

Why Do I Have to Prepare a Budget?
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Why Do I Have to Prepare a Budget? | Bob Bordett

We all hate the word budget. How many times have you had a budget that never worked and only made life harder? And when you didn't follow it, did you feel like you failed?

If a budget is done right, it will provide many benefits that are crucial when going through a divorce.

  • A budget is a guideline to help you forecast how your cash flow will look.

  • Having a budget keeps your priorities and values straight. Many times during the divorce you can get confused about what is important to you.

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