COVID-19 Update: How we are serving and protecting our clients.

Articles Posted in Divorce

This blog is Part 4 of my divorce mediation bullet point series. It looks like there will be a couple more to go to Couch-Meeting-300x200continue my summary of my divorce mediation blogs from over the years.

53 – Neutrals can be utilized in divorce mediation to get past sticking points or to help resolve certain issues that agreements need to be made to be able to obtain a settlement on all the issues involved with the dissolution of the marriage. For example, a neutral child specialist, such as a psychologist might be brought in on a mediation to resolve parenting time issues. Financial neutrals, such as accountants or certified financial planners might be used to work with the couple on budgets and how they can transition from one household to two. Appraisals for homes, valuations for business and other aspects can be done by neutral third parties. Many options are possible in mediation. There is no one set in stone formula for how we can solve problems and move forward.

54 – While mediation might be difficult in ultra high conflict situations, such as where there has been domestic violence, there do not have to be hard and fast rules. If both sides are willing to sit in a room with neutral divorce mediators it might be possible. Because of the potential of imbalance of power that may exist in such a situation, it is particularly important for the parties to utilize review attorneys to advise them about the divorce to ensure that there rights are being protected. I don’t believe that there needs to be a per-se exclusion for a couple from using mediation. Continue reading ›

This blog is part three in my summary of points about divorce mediation take from my blogs over the years –Mediation-Consultation-300x200

42 – Child Custody topics can be worked through and agreed upon in mediation. One of the issues we can and should address for a comprehensive agreement is what will be the custody arrangement, i.e.: true shared custody; residential custody to one parent; joint legal custody; or sole custody?

43 –  Parenting time arrangements can be discussed and agreed upon in mediations.   It can be as open ended as language such as the parties shall each enjoy liberal parenting time as shall be agreed upon going forward. Other people like to have a more specific schedule of parenting time. We have come to arrangements where the parties split the time by alternating weeks or have what we call rolling fours and threes (four nights a week to one parent with four to the other parent then flipping again and again). Other schedules could be that the “non-residential” custodial parent enjoys time with the children on weekends, be it alternating weekends or some other arrangement. Frequently we may include that the parents will alternate or share holidays, school breaks, and special occasions in some fashion. Usually we include vacation time for each parent as well. There are countless variations for parenting time schedules as each family is truly different.

44 – Unmarried couples can use mediation for custody and parenting time as well as the traditional divorcing couple. A little differently though than divorce mediation I can draft the agreement for custody and parenting time. However, to be made into a binding court order the couple will need to bring the agreement to the Family Court, via a petition (that I can help the draft), without me as being listed as one of their attorneys. This process is different than divorce mediations where an uncontested divorce is submitted without a court appearance being required while in Family Court appearances are always required when a petition is filed. Continue reading ›

Here’s Part 2 of my divorce mediation bullet points from my blogs over they years. This one contains my next ten Mediation-Signing-300x200points –

30 – The parents can make agreements about which parent can claim the children or if the children will be shared or alternated as dependents for their tax returns. As a divorce mediator I always advise that I am not a tax professional and recommend that the parties consult with their tax advisor for tax advice and tax consequences regarding their divorce and settlement agreements.

31 – The law in New York regarding equitable distribution of marital assets and marital debt is to distribute these things as is fair. In mediation the couple can decide if dividing these things equally is fair or some other arrangement. In litigation, on the other hand, the court decides how this is done and usually invokes certain default thinking such as things should be equally divided.

32 – In mediation, agreements about the marital residence can be discussed and agreed upon. The knee jerk reaction of a matrimonial judge that has to decide issues on the marital residence tends to be something like, “If the two of you cannot agree on the house then I am just going to order it sold!” Divorce mediators can help the couple discuss arrangement where one side stays in the house for some time, or one buys the other out of their share among other possibilities. Continue reading ›

This blog will be the first of a series of blogs that contain bullet points to summarize my blogs overMediating-Couple-Bright-Window-300x200

the past number of years. This blog series is intended to give an overview of information about

mediation, particularly divorce mediation, in no particular order of importance. Here it goes…

Continue reading ›

ChildSupportMediationCouple-300x200The May 16, 2019 article of Dan M. Clark in the New York Law Journal outlined presumptive divorce mediation, which was initiated this fall, as a system that the state courts in New York must now have in place to encourage that civil litigation be resolved via mediation, rather than open court. This strategy hopes to reduce some of the backlogs that have been plaguing the judiciary environment up until this point. Although such systems have existed throughout some state courts in New York before today, the new initiative will affect all state courts. Now, presumptive divorce mediation has arrived on Long Island, and New York State, meaning that litigated cases are automatically referred to mediators within the court system.

The new initiative clearly recognizes the value of mediation, including divorce mediation, or family law mediation as a strategy for resolving disputes over litigation. Based on the results that the courts have seen from the initiative following a trial in New Jersey, this program is expected to have many positive results. To cut out the gearing up for court before going to mediation in court, couples going through divorce could also choose to use their own private mediators, outside of the court system, to start mediating. Though there may still be cases wherein an issue cannot be resolved by divorce mediators and need judges to decide issues, the new strategy encourages more people to start their divorce process through alternative dispute resolution methods. Continue reading ›

Skypepic-300x200For residents of Long Island and New York, I have long offered divorce mediation as an alternative form of dispute resolution. While I do litigation and traditional settlement negotiations for divorce too, divorce mediation is an opportunity for divorcing or separating parties to come together and negotiate the terms that dictate the end of their relationship. Using divorce mediators, couples can keep the courts largely out of their divorce process, while maintaining more control over what happens next. What’s more, for many people, mediation can be a lot less expensive than paying for litigation.

In an ideal situation, separating and divorcing couples would get the most out of their mediation session by both coming into the same room to talk. I try to offer my clients a warm and welcoming environment where they can discuss their issues with my help as a divorce mediator. For those who need additional guidance, I even offer the option for mediation by caucus, and preliminary planning sessions too (if both parties are willing). However, when people move apart after a separation, or need to travel frequently for business, finding time to get together in the same mediation environment isn’t always possible.

Couples can’t always stop their lives to take part in mediation, but that doesn’t mean that decisions don’t need to be made about everything from child support to maintenance. Divorce mediation through video conferencing tools like Skype, conference calls, or other tools could be an answer to a number of complicated situations. Continue reading ›

Meditate-Picture-300x200Dealing with a divorce is always an emotional and tiring process – no matter whether your relationship ends amicably or otherwise. Sometimes, the best way to keep issues to a minimum is to choose a form of conflict resolution that requires as little input from the courts as possible. With a solution like divorce mediation, you can maintain more control over what happens during your divorce, and even choose the perfect outcome for you and your partner. Mediation also gives families the opportunity to maintain some semblance of a relationship after a divorce takes place, by keeping the tension between a mother and father, or husband and wife to a minimum. However, mediation isn’t the right option for everyone.

Mediation, just like any form of divorce strategy, requires careful strategy and consistent planning. You need to be able to go into your mediation sessions with the right attitude, and this is rarely as easy as it seems. Mediation usually requires some manner of compromise. You need to be able to be flexible if you want to negotiate effectively, and this means getting control over your emotions. I know it may sound a little hokey, but I find that sometimes, considering a brief period of meditation before mediation might be a good idea.

I’m not a medical health expert or a therapist, but my experience with mediation, litigation and divorce law over the years has shown me that certain emotional and therapeutic strategies can help to make the divorce process a lot simpler. Something like meditation can significantly reduce the feelings of stress and anxiety that you experience when going into the mediation process. What’s more, a period of meditation may even give you time to think more carefully about the goals and outcomes that you want to achieve during each mediation discussion. Continue reading ›

Swearing-In-300x211Assets aren’t the only thing that may need to be distributed between two parties when a divorce takes place. Some couples need to think about distributing their debts too – particularly when there is a dispute about whether the couple agreed to take on those financial commitments together or not. In order to prove to the courts of New York and Long Island that a debt should be split, parties must provide some crucial information. Most commonly, the courts will require some evidence that the debt was incurred either for the benefit of the other party, the household, or with the other party’s permission. This is a way that something may be considered marital debt, rather than just “individual” debt.

In most instances the debt that exists at the time of filing the divorce will be open to consideration by the courts. Usually, any debts that are taken on after the divorce case is filed won’t have any traction in the case. However, I have found some exceptions to this rule. For instance, in the case of G.T. v. A.T., 43 Misc. 3d 500, 501, 980 N.Y.S.2d 255, 256, the court was prepared to consider any debt incurred when the divorce was ongoing. However, the court ended up ruling that it was not going to distribute the debt that was incurred during the pendency of the divorce, simply because neither side was able to show evidence that the debt was made with the other’s permission.

In the case above, the plaintiff had a discover card in their name and a Visa and Mastercard in the name of the defendant. The two parties had accrued debt on all of the cards during the pendency of the case. However, as no evidence was available to suggest that the debt was incurred for the benefit of the other spouse, or with the other spouse’s permission, that debt was not be treated as marital debt. My experience is that if post filing expenses or debt is going to be an issue that the parties would want to attempt to get a Pendente Lite Order from the court. This is an order that provides for payments to be made for support and expenses while the divorce is ongoing. Continue reading ›

Caucus-Session-300x200In my last two blog posts, I’ve discussed the considerations that take place when a divorcing by mediation couple is wondering whether or not to engage in divorce mediation by caucus. For some people, caucusing is an excellent way to keep emotions under control and support the successful outcome of divorce mediation. For others, caucusing may cause more problems than it solves. In this blog, I’ll be discussing the procedures and ground rules that divorce mediators like myself consider when clients opt to take the caucus session route. For me, the most important initial rule is to make sure that both parties are completely comfortable with the idea of caucusing. I can do this by discussing the options that both clients have with them during a joint mediation session. Once that decision has been made, the couple will sign an agreement on confidentiality of information.

It’s important for the clients in a divorce mediation to know what will happen to the information shared in private caucus sessions. For instance, is some of the information to be kept confidential, or should it all be shared in a joint environment? Does each piece of information need to be identified as either confidential or public? I ask the clients in divorce mediation sessions to opt in and agree to the confidentiality clauses that they feel comfortable in within a joint session before the caucusing sessions can begin. Continue reading ›

Mediation represents an excellent opportunity for parties in a divorce to settle their issues using negotiation, rather than litigation in front of the Mature-Mediator-Meeting-300x200family or supreme courts. In the right circumstances, working with a divorce mediator such as myself could also mean that you get to maintain more control over what happens with your divorce, as you can come to an agreement that can be drafted and sent to the courts for approval. However, there are many different kinds of mediation available in the world of family law, and it’s important to decide which option is right for you before you get started. My last blog was about the positives involving caucusing in divorce mediation. In this article I will point out some of the counter considerations.

I, and other divorce mediators like myself, can offer clients the opportunity for caucusing in mediation, in situations where it may be appropriate. In divorce mediation with caucus sessions, each party will have the chance to take a moment away from the joint session so that they can discuss an issue with their divorce mediator in private. Crucially, this isn’t an opportunity for either party to get exceptional legal help from their mediator or guidance on what to do next. Instead, caucusing moments can be used to gain clarity on a situation, or discuss what might be possible if a specific negotiation path is suggested.

Usually, when clients come to me in search of an experienced divorce mediator, they’re looking for someone to help them with their negotiation that they both feel as though they can trust. For the most part, to this point, I and the people that I work with have engaged in mediation without caucusing. I have felt that this keeps all information out and in the open, rather than causing one party to worry about what the other says behind closed doors. Mediation often works best when both parties feel comfortable with the idea that their mediator is neutral and objective. However, if both parties in the divorce are comfortable with the idea of caucusing, then the solution can offer a range of benefits too. Continue reading ›

Contact Information