Articles Posted in Divorce

ChildSupportMediationCouple-300x200As a divorce attorney and divorce mediator, I often ask questions to learn more about my clients and their cases. Many aspects of law revolve around the ability to ask the right questions at the correct times. Recently, I attended a conference at the New York State Council of Divorce Mediation, to further my education on Divorce Mediation and network with my peers. During that event, Kenneth Cloke, JD, Ph.D., and LLM provided an interesting training session on the “art of asking questions.” This session raised some interesting insights in the questions in divorce and family law mediation cases, and I’ve written this blog to share those insights with you.

In any legal case, asking the right questions is crucial. For a divorce mediator, asking questions can be complicated and even dangerous, because it sparks emotional responses in clients. Sometimes, you need to ask the difficult questions to get to the deeper meaning behind certain issues and domestic disputes. One thing that all divorce attorneys and mediators see, is that the disputes between parties in a divorce are often two-dimensional. Dr. Cloke points out, usually, a husband or wife complaining about dirty dishes left in the sink isn’t just about the dishes – it’s also about the lack of respect that someone shows when they ignore something important to their spouse. Continue reading

In previous blog posts, we’ve discussed the benefits of separation agreements, and how they can affect the divorce procedure in New York. When you’re unsure whether you’re ready MatureBusinessPeople-300x200to go through with a full divorce, or you need to come to terms with your partner about your future before a divorce takes place, a separation agreement can be a useful process. Whether addressed as part of a divorce mediation process or negotiated between divorce attorneys, these agreements allow clients to lay out the details of their upcoming divorce as quickly and efficiently as possible.

If a couple negotiates a separation agreement and signs the appropriate documentation, they will have more options available to them in the future. For example, if a couple decides that they no longer want to get divorced and instead want to pursue opportunities to fix their relationships, they can simply nullify the separation agreement and go back to living together as normal. On the other hand, if the spouses involved in a separation agreement decide that they do need to get a full divorce, they will be able to apply for an uncontested divorce as all the issues were ostensibly settled in the separation agreement. This means that they won’t have to argue about issues like equitable distribution, child support, child custody and maintenance in court. Continue reading

In recent blog posts, I have discussed the concept of separation agreements, used both as a way to give couples a break when they’re not sure whether they want to Mediating-Couple-Bright-Window-300x200end their marriage and as a precursor or first step in full divorce experience that ensues immediately thereafter. A separation agreement is a document that outlines various answers to questions that a couple might have at the end of their marriage. For instance, your separation agreement might dictate what’s going to happen to your family home when your divorce is final, or who will be responsible for having custody of the children.

Because separation agreements require both parties to agree on what happens when their marriage comes to an end, there is a lot of negotiation involved. As a divorce mediator, I’m able to help parties collaborate during this complicated process and discuss the things that are most important to them. For instance, I can provide a safe environment, where both parties can come together to discuss everything from equitable distribution to visitation or parenting time agreements. Acting as a mediator, my job won’t be to provide any legal counsel or guidance, but to provide instead a neutral space where decisions can be made about your future after marriage. Continue reading

In a previous blog post, I spoke about separation agreements, and how they can sometimes be helpful, regardless of whether or not a couple decides to progress with Mediation-Therapy-pic-300x200their divorce. While there doesn’t necessarily need to be a legal agreement written up for people to start living apart and to say how parties should act during their separation.  These kinds of agreements, however, can be helpful in some circumstances legally. Many couples find that going through the details of their separation with a divorce attorney or divorce mediator, like me, can help them to protect their rights, improve the predictability of the experience and eliminate unnecessary arguments.

Frequently, separation agreements are particularly useful when the two parties considering divorce are involved in attempting to work out their finances. For instance, if one partner has been raising the couple’s children up until now, and hasn’t had a job, and the other is the wage earner, separation agreements may help to ensure that the needs of the family continue to be met. Some of my clients also find that separation agreements are useful if they haven’t yet decided whether they’re ready to officially dissolve their marriage with a divorce. Discussing the details of how you’ll live after the divorce may help you to decide whether completing the process is the right thing to do. Continue reading

It’s common for couples to think of separation agreements and divorce as two separate options when it comes to ending a marriage. When you decide that your MediationPictobeusedlater-300x200relationship can no longer continue as it is, you may choose to draft a separation agreement to determine how you and your ex-spouse will live your lives outside of the marriage. A separation agreement isn’t just an alternative to a divorce. Indeed, it’s possible to go ahead with a divorce or full dissolution of a marriage once your separation agreement has been drafted and signed. What’s more, by entering into a separation agreement, you may find that the divorce procedure itself is more amicable, straightforward and simple.

The formation of separation agreements is a kind of negotiation that takes place usually outside of the court setting.  The settlement document that we enter into after mediation sessions is in most instances a separation agreement.  Most of my mediation couples choose to and can get an uncontested divorce immediately after entering into the separation agreement.  Separation agreements can also be made outside of the mediation setting through lawyer to lawyer negotiations or lawyer to opposing party negotiations if the other side chooses to represent themselves.

Like the mediation process during a divorce, the concept brings both parties together for a discussion of crucial concepts like equitable distribution, spousal maintenance, parenting time, and more. For many people, separation agreements feel a lot less stressful than a standard divorce. The court will not be involved in the preparation of the separation documents. What’s more, the couple will be able to maintain more control over their negotiation, without the consistent input of the courts. With the help of the lawyers, couples drafting a separation agreement can come to terms on what they would like to happen when their marriage ends.

Separation Agreements & Uncontested Divorces

Continue reading

Not all divorces are messy. In some situations, both parties to a marriage agree that they have grown apart and that it is for the best for everyone involved that they Mediationpicusingnow-300x209go their separate ways. It may even be the case that the parties have discussed and resolved many of the issues that must be decided in a New York divorce proceeding, and have no interest in engaging in what is often a lengthy and costly legal proceeding. For these couples, New York divorce mediation may be a good alternative.

In a typical New York divorce proceeding, each party is represented by an attorney who is looking out solely for the best interests of their client. And when the atmosphere is highly contentious, this may be the only option. However, in situations where the parties can work together on some level, a divorce mediator can help the couple work through all of the issues that must be decided in hopes of coming to a mutually acceptable solution. Divorce mediation is very often much faster and less expensive than a traditional divorce.

Occasionally, a couple believes that a divorce should be uncontested, but the mediation process uncovers unanticipated issues or emotions leading to a less productive negotiating environment. Thus, a New York divorce is not truly “uncontested” until there is a binding settlement agreement that has been signed by both parties. Due to the non-binding nature of New York divorce mediation, couples who try divorce mediation and cannot come up with a mutually acceptable agreement can abandon the process and file for divorce in the traditional manner.  Statistically, I can report that the vast majority of the couples that mediate with me resolve their issues and come to an agreement on all the required matters.

Continue reading

Lawyerwithclient-300x200In my last blog I discussed the topic of adding the option of private sessions, upon agreement of couples working with me, in divorce mediation.  Most of the time, when clients come to me in search of a trained divorce mediator, they follow a certain process that begins with a joint consultation session and continues into joint mediation meetings. This mediation strategy helps to maintain trust between all of the people involved in the mediation, because it eliminates the fear that either individual may be getting extra help from the mediator. Often, for mediation to be effective, the parties need to feel as though they are getting fair treatment from a completely objective third-party. As a divorce mediator, I strive to give all the people I work with that sense of comfort. However, sometimes, they may find it helpful to take a different kind of mediation route – such as one that involves preliminary planning sessions.

Preliminary planning sessions are part of a strategy suggested by mediators Forrest “Woody” Mosten and Elizabeth Potter Scully. They believe that a good way to prepare for the joint mediation sessions is with initial interactions between each individual client and the mediator. These private discussions are a great way to build rapport between the divorce mediator and the parties, according to Mosten and Scully. What’s more, they can allow parties an opportunity to discuss some of the more complex parts of their case. Continue reading

MediationPicturetobeusedlater-300x200Divorce mediation is one of the most popular forms of alternative dispute resolution. For couples who would rather avoid the stress associated with litigation, mediation ensures a simpler strategy based on mutual negotiation with the support of an objective third-party. As a trained mediator, I’m committed to providing that for my couples in divorce mediation for Nassau County, Suffolk County, Long Island and Queens.  I want everyone to feel as comfortable as possible in their mediation sessions.

Most of the time, this means meeting with both spouses simultaneously for a joint initial consultation session, where we discuss the nature of their case, and what kind of process might follow. However, there is an alternative option recommended by some practitioners, which can work for certain parties. Preliminary planning sessions allow both the mediator and each spouse to meet for private meetings, after the free initial consultation, but before the full mediation experience begins. These one-on-one sessions will enable the mediator to create a rapport with each client individually.

Through preliminary planning sessions, I could help you to explore and discuss any issues that you might have with your mediation before we start the negotiation. Although these sessions mean that you’ll need to engage in more time addressing your issues before mediation begins, they also can allow the process to run more smoothly. In some instances, preliminary planning means that mediation doesn’t take as long to complete overall. Continue reading

Over the past few weeks, we’ve taken a look at the process of New York divorce mediation, in which parties work together to come up with an agreement regarding Parentswithbaby-300x200many issues that would otherwise be decided by a judge. Last week, we discussed the fact that a New York divorce mediation can include terms that cover the custody of minor children, and provided an example where the court upheld a parties’ agreement although it was later contested by one of the parties.

It is important to note, however, that courts retain discretion in determining New York child custody issues. So, while the parties to a New York divorce are free to come to an agreement between themselves regarding child-custody matters, if the court determines that the parties’ agreement is not in the best interest of the children involved the court can set aside the agreement.

There are two common ways this situation arises. The first is during the judge’s initial review of the parties’ agreement and the second is if one of the spouses requests a modification to the child-custody agreement after the court has approved the agreement and the divorce is final. Once a child-custody agreement is approved, courts will not modify that agreement unless there is a substantial change in circumstances and the party seeking modification can show that modification is in the best interests of the children. A recent case illustrates a situation in which a court found that each of these elements was met and, thus, modified the agreement.

Continue reading

While some New York divorces are long, drawn-out, and contentious affairs, others are much more amicable such as when the parties use divorce mediation as theChildSupportMediationCouple-300x200 process. In the latter type of divorce, it is not uncommon for the parties to agree on many of the issues that a court would otherwise need to decide. Among matters that are commonly worked out between divorcing spouses are the division of marital property and the payment of spousal support.

Some couples will also be able to agree on the payment and amount of child support with their divorce mediator or through settlement negotiations. However, because the right to receive child support technically belongs to the children for whom the support benefits, courts retain the final decision over a New York child support agreement.

Under New York Domestic Relations Law section 240, the parties to a child support agreement must aver that the agreement provides the correct amount of child support. If, however, the mediated divorce agreement or settled agreement between the parties deviates from the basic child support amount that would otherwise be appropriate, the parties must explain what the necessary amount of child support would be and why there is a deviation by agreement. Importantly, this cannot be waived by either party.

Continue reading