Category: Family & Divorce

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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Five Tips to Help You Get Through Divorce
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Five Tips to Help You Get Through Divorce | Debra Rubin

Going through a divorce can be stressful. Knowing what to expect can help you face the challenges you’ll encounter and increase your resilience.

Here are five important facts about the divorce process that you should be prepared for, and tips to take into consideration. 1. Divorces are emotional and difficult. Whether you’re the one who wants the divorce, or whether your spouse is the one who wants the divorce, it’s still going to be a big life change for you. It’s important to have a support system in place. While ultimately things are likely going to be better for you down the road, you’re still going to have to get through the process.

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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.

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Will Nesting Work for Us?
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Will Nesting Work for Us? | Clare Piro

{4:24 minutes to read} Nesting is a shared parenting concept that allows the children to stay in the marital home while the parents go back and forth. The idea is that the children will be able to remain in one familiar place, have no concerns about where they are on what day or what they need to take with them. Typically, parents who choose this will be sharing time in the home with the children on an equal basis. To see if this might work for you, consider the following: Long Term or Short Term? My experience has been working with clients who have agreed to do this on a short-term basis for the following reasons:

  • Wanting to separate now, but unsure where each wants to live.
  • Waiting to place the marital home on the market or waiting for a sale.
  • Giving it a year for the children to adjust to not being with either parent full time.

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How is Mediation Like Solving a Puzzle?
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How is Mediation Like Solving a Puzzle? | Susan Ingram

{2:52 minutes to read} When I’m first meeting with couples in divorce mediation, I find most people have little knowledge as to how mediation actually works. The metaphor of putting together a jigsaw puzzle, an activity most people are familiar with, is very helpful in illustrating the process. Mediation typically takes much less time than litigating a divorce – often a matter of months as opposed to a year or more with a contested divorce. But that doesn’t mean mediators “cut corners” as we move through the process with our clients.

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How Can Divorce Affect Your Auto Insurance?
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How Can Divorce Affect Your Auto Insurance? | Bob Bordett

After divorce, people often forget to take care of a few small but very important details, such as:

  • Joint auto Insurance policies;
  • Amending will and life insurance beneficiaries; and
  • Switching accounts for bills that are on autopay.
  In regards to auto insurance and divorce, many couples get discounts due to being tied to their residence or having multiple vehicles. When considering the removal of a spouse from a joint policy, compare auto policies before deciding.

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Love-by-Contract
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Love-by-Contract | Sandy Balick

{4:00 minutes to read} Most of my posts are occupied with divorce-related mediation topics. Divorce mediations are ultimately focused on giving birth to a contract: the settlement or separation agreement. But, on the other end of the spectrum, contracts may be powerful guides to relationship building and preservation, regardless of marital status. Prompted by a recent newspaper item on relationship contracts, I thought it was timely to share some thoughts on the notion of love-by-contact. Admittedly, the phrase is sort of chilling, bordering on the salacious. But it’s important to recall that our laws very much consider marriage and divorce in a contractual context, viewing marriages as financial partnerships as well as romantic ones.

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7 Things Your Mediator Wants You to Know, Part 1
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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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Our Intention to Create Group Wisdom in Collaborative Practice: Let’s Brainstorm this Idea Together!
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Our Intention to Create Group Wisdom in Collaborative Practice: Let’s Brainstorm this Idea Together! | Lauren Behrman

As I sat in a recent five-day workshop on how to design and lead a transformational workshop, I had a “Eureka!” moment. My intention in attending the workshop was to develop transformational workshops for people who were recovering from divorce or facing transitions in their lives.

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How Well Do You Listen?
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How Well Do You Listen? | Jennifer Safian

{3:00 minutes to read} Did you know that the words, listen and silent have the exact same letters? Let’s think about this for a moment: SILENT and LISTEN. How else are they connected? Do you ever find that you are not getting anywhere when trying to resolve an issue with someone? One of the reasons could be that you have not been heard or you have not heard what the other person has to say. How can you resolve something when you don’t have a clear understanding of what is involved?

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Equality Schmality
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Equality Schmality | Cheryl Stein

Men often voice that they feel they get the raw end of the stick during divorce, without a larger understanding of their situation.

Generally, women are perceived as victims and sympathetic characters in divorce, both in the monetary and parenting realms.

People often ask me if I am a female- or male-oriented attorney and which sex I predominantly represent. I represent both equally, and each case is fact specific. At any given moment, I represent mirror image situations—for example, a female client who would like to impose that her ex keep to a very time specific visitation schedule, and a male client lamenting that his wife is overly rigid in demanding that his visitation must take place within very precise time frames.

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How is Mediation Like a Jigsaw Puzzle or Launching a Ship?
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How is Mediation Like a Jigsaw Puzzle or Launching a Ship? | Ada Hasloecher

{3:54 minutes to read} During my initial consultation, when I meet a couple for the first time, I think it’s important to put some context to the mediation process before they decide whether mediation is appropriate for them. So in addition to describing the process, distinguishing mediation from litigation and laying out the general topics and issues we will be working on together, I often offer two analogies to illustrate a way of thinking about how we will be accomplishing our goals.

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The Satisfying Life of a Mediator
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The Satisfying Life of a Mediator | Clare Piro

{3:54 minutes to read} I just returned from the annual gathering of the NYS Conference on Divorce Mediation. This is my 12th conference, and I was as excited to go to this one as I was to my first. While the focus is on education with plenaries and workshops on various aspects of family law and mediation theory, there is undeniably another element that plays a very big part. Whether we do it full time or not, are experienced mediators or just starting out, we all feel that we are doing something that is fulfilling and gives us satisfaction. And we all want to share our knowledge and experiences with our colleagues and support each other in a way that I have never found in other professional organizations.

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Training a New Generation of Collaborative Professionals
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Training a New Generation of Collaborative Professionals | Lauren Behrman

Early in May, I had the opportunity to be a trainer in NYACP’s Basic Interdisciplinary Collaborative Divorce Training. My training team consists of two attorneys, MaryEllen Linnehan and Deb Wayne, and a financial neutral, Marty Blaustein, and myself as the mental health professional. Even though we’ve offered this training many times before, our team worked for a year and a half to reinvigorate it—making it more user-friendly and accessible.

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Family Disputes: Selling The Family Home
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Family Disputes: Selling The Family Home | Gary Shaffer

{3:54 minutes to read} Our mental attics can store lots of emotional content when it comes to a family home. For many families, selling that home may be sad, but not otherwise a source of contention. It can even be a relief. But for others, selling the home can create conflict. While there can be an almost infinite source of such conflicts, mediation can provide a way to ease or even resolve them. Money and emotion are almost always intertwined in a dispute over the family home, and any attempt at resolution must address both. Ideally, the issue is addressed before a dispute arises...

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Did You Forget About Your Own Career During Your Marriage?
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Did You Forget About Your Own Career During Your Marriage? | Fabienne Swartz

{3:15 minutes to read} Every divorce is unique. On one end of town, there may be a family struggling to make ends meet, who literally can’t afford to start the divorce process. On “the other side of the tracks,” there may be another family worth millions, thanks to the husband’s brilliant career, which was only made possible by the wife’s sacrifices. Unfortunately, the comfort that she enjoys is more like getting renovations done on a house that she’s renting; it may be nice while she lives there, but in the case of a divorce, she would have to move out and the landlord (her husband) will enjoy the spoils of her toils.

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What is the Difference between Legal Advice and Legal Information? How does that Affect the Role of the Mediator?
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What is the Difference between Legal Advice and Legal Information? How does that Affect the Role of the Mediator? | Deborah E. Kaminetzky

People often ask: how do you reconcile the role of the mediator and the role of the attorney when you are doing mediation? When doing a mediation, the mediators’ role is to help the people decide for themselves what course of action they want to take. As a mediator who is also an attorney, I of course have a very good idea as to what would pass muster in the agreement so that it would be likely signed by the Judge.

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