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Mediation for Couples Separated, but Never Married

More and more frequently, I am getting calls from couples who have decided to call it quits after living together for many years, but who never actually married. This trend has been happening in European countries for many years and now seems to be more prevalent in the US, though in a less outspoken way.

Mediation offers the best possible place for separating non-married couples, because it gives them a platform to explore separating their assets. Read the rest of Jennifer's article to learn more.

Leaving the House Before a Divorce Agreement Is Reached Can Be a Mistake

A spouse leaving the house is often one of the reasons couples wind up in court. Even if the two of you have talked about things and believe you have an agreement worked out with the bills and the children, it is not uncommon for misunderstandings to arise that lead to a court action being started.

Things often get tense between you and your spouse when you are getting a divorce. Because of this tension, it is tempting to want to remove yourself from the situation by leaving the house. By doing that, however, you are leaving yourself open to a lot of financial and emotional damage.
Read the rest of Dan's article to learn the reasons why you should stay in your house while you reach an agreement with your spouse or partner. 

Second Marriages: Why a Prenuptial Agreement is Wise

As we get older we’re supposed to get wiser. In fact, I would rank increased wisdom at the very top of the benefits of aging. So why do so many people enter their second or even third marriages ignoring what they know? The statistics prove these marriages are more likely to end in divorce than first marriages.

If you’ve been divorced before, you know what you don’t want from a future divorce: You don’t want the process to take forever and be expensive. You don’t want to have little control over the process. You don’t want to end up hating your ex-spouse. A thoughtfully negotiated prenuptial agreement can help you avoid all of this by making it clear what financial expectations each spouse has during the marriage and what the outcome will be if the marriage ends.

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50/50 Parenting Plans During Separation and Divorce: Practical Considerations for Mediating Parenting Plans

When creating a parenting plan, the goal is for both parents to maintain a meaningful relationship with the children unless special circumstances exist.   How can parents develop a viable “50/50” parenting plan? What does equal parenting mean in a “50/50” case? Read the rest of Deb's article to learn about considerations such as: making informed decisions, establishing priorities and developing options for the parenting plan. 

 

Divorcing Parents and Their Special Needs Children

I just finished a mediation session with a divorcing couple who have a special needs child, in addition to two typically-developing children. While divorces involving special needs children are often complicated and involve more issues than the “normal” divorce, I find helping these families to be especially rewarding.

Read the rest of Susan's article to learn how mediation can help families with special needs.

Banish the Guilt

The process of ending a marriage can bring up a range of feelings, including anger, frustration and even grief. One emotion that often catches us by surprise is guilt, and it’s the most unproductive and insidious of them all. In addition to all of the regrets regarding the marriage itself, many of us feel remorse for the divorce’s impact on the children. 

Although guilt is a perfectly normal reaction to ending a marriage, it’s one that many can get stuck on, and there’s frankly nowhere to go with it. Mistakes were made on both sides, but focusing on the past will only impede your ability to move on. What’s needed is a shift in perspective.

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Relocation and Children in Divorce

Among all of the parenting issues in divorce, one that always emerges is the question of relocation. It’s hard enough living in two houses. The notion of living a significant distance from each other causes most parents worry and anxiety. 

Read BJ Mann's article to learn more about important considerations when relocating with children after divorce including distance, travel time, schools, parenting plans and how to manage when then non-moving parent does not agree to the move. 

Icy Wife? Let Go and Heal…

At a recent traffic light, I pulled up next to a man whose car had the intriguing license plates “ICY WIFE”. Now as a divorce mediator, my first thought was “Wow, here’s a guy who wants to, in a very public way, carry a chip on his shoulder for as long as those plates stay on his car”. My second thought was that, by continuing to broadcast his opinion of his ex-spouse as “ICY WIFE” via these license plates, he might be having a hard time moving on with his life.

Read the rest of Trish's article to learn the importance of getting passed the pain and anger in order to feel better.  

Why Mediation Is a More “Holistic” Approach to Divorce Posted on

When I attend various networking events, or if I am meeting a person for the first time and sharing with them what I do for a living, I often speak about divorce mediation in terms of it being a more holistic approach to divorce.  We often hear the term holistic used in medicine. So what does this really mean when used to characterize a divorce process?

If you Google holistic, you will find the following definition: “characterized by the treatment of the whole person, taking into account mental and social factors, rather than just physical symptoms of the disease.”

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Celebrating Mother’s Day After Separation or Divorce – Some Helpful Tips

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are likely to be two of the most emotional days of the calendar for divorced parents. Sadly, sometimes divorced parents find themselves in a battle for time with their children on Mothers or Fathers Day. With Mother’s Day being just around the corner, think about your children and what behavior will help them have the best experience instead of turning your Mother’s Day into a power struggle, battlefield, or statement about who is the better parent. 

Read the rest of Renée's article to learn some helpful hints for coping with Mother's Day and Father's Day. 

Creating an Effective Parenting Plan: Considerations and Questions for Parents

The divorce process is an emotional time. Tensions surrounding a parenting plan may mount even when both parents prioritize the needs of the children.  Responsiveness, stability, and practicality are significant factors in developing a parenting plan. As parents begin to develop a parenting plan, the need for flexibility is also very important in creating options that consider the child first. 

The parenting agreement, in many ways, establishes the foundation for the children and their parents in moving forward with the new family structure. An effective parenting plan maximizes the child’s emotional security.  It also needs to work well for the child and the parents and grow with the child.

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A Decision Based on Emotions Can Hurt Everyone!

I recently met with a couple who wanted to hear about my divorce mediation services. During the meeting Maria*, the wife, related how she had decided a year earlier that the marriage was over and had left the house. Her husband, Howard*, expressed that he was not in favor of a divorce and wanted Maria to return home. However, she was committed to ending the marriage and suggested that they mediate the terms of the divorce rather than hire separate attorneys and litigate the matter.

Read the rest of Dan's article to learn what happened next. (*Names have been changed.)

Divorce Mediation with High-net-worth Families: It Is Not Just About the Money

When I first started practicing divorce mediation 15 years ago, the public’s perception was that mediation was for people who did not have the means to hire separate attorneys to act on their behalf. Mediation, therefore, was primarily a way for them to save money on their divorce. Over the years, my practice has included an increasing number of very high-net-worth couples for whom saving money on attorney fees was actually not the primary reason for choosing mediation. They truly felt that the mediation process was the best approach for them.

Read the rest of Jennifer's article to learn why.

I’m Right — and You’re Wrong!

I just attended a monthly peer group meeting with my mediation colleagues. One of the subjects that came up and generated a lively discussion was the need we humans have “to be right,” which typically means that the other person must be wrong when he or she doesn’t agree with us. Of course, that’s what happens when we look at things purely from one vantage point – things are black or white, right or wrong; one person wins and the other loses. Period! And as you can guess, this approach does not help move dialogue along or generate viable options for people to live together (or apart, in the case of divorcing couples).

Read the rest of Susan's article to learn how to look at things from a different vantage point, which can be very helpful. 

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An Advisory Schedule for Spousal Support: What Does That Mean?

For years, divorce professionals, attorneys, mediators, judges and lawyers have all been asking for spousal maintenance (formerly called alimony) guidelines. Cases which had the same facts were getting different alimony awards from different judges. In some cases very, very different: Disturbingly different. We now have what’s called an advisory schedule, based on the length of the marriage and disparity of incomes.

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Don’t Litigate a Divorce Because Your Spouse Had an Affair!

I often work with couples where one of them has had an affair. When this is the case, it is common for the other spouse to feel hurt and angry. In addition, he/she often does not trust the spouse that had the affair. While the affair may have damaged the marriage beyond the point of repair, it is how the spouse that has been cheated on responds that determines how well the couple and their children get through the resulting divorce.

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A Painful Plea from a Child of Divorce

 

Many couples going through divorce have to make huge efforts to protect their children from their conflict. Unfortunately, once in awhile, the stress is so high that their emotions get the better part of them, and the child gets pulled into their drama. I worked with a family who unfortunately continued to have financial issues after their divorce. They shared with me a letter that their son sent to them from college, begging them to stop their bitter arguments against each other. As you will see, he was willing to sacrifice his education for a cheaper alternative, just to end their conflict.

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A Wife’s Fervent Plea for Mediation

Every once in awhile, a client will send me something that goes right to the heart of mediation. I’m working with a couple who have been back and forth with threats to stop and go the lawyer route – even though they both know it is not in their best interest to do so. After a rather torrid session, the wife wrote a letter to the husband, and she agreed to let me share it with you. Of course I changed their names and anything very personal to them. If this isn’t a plea for sanity, I don’t know what is.

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What are the 4 Elements of Divorce?


When most people are going through a divorce they don’t think about the various elements that come into play during this difficult process. They are often overwhelmed with emotions (anger, resentment and sadness, among them) that come up during this extremely difficult time of their lives. They often become stuck in the disputed details of their lives, and are unable to see the Big Picture of what is in play and thus understand the essential interaction between the 4 elements of divorce. Those elements are:

- The Legal Divorce
- The Financial Divorce
- The Children's Divorce
- The Emotional Divorce 



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Do Grandparents Have Rights in New York?

The short answer is, “Yes. Grandparents have visitation rights in New York.” Every divorce agreement that I’ve seen specifically spells out that grandparents in New York have the right to see their grandchildren, and those rights won’t be denied. So that sounds great, and very legal, but how does that really work?

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