There are many situations where clients consult friends, attorney friends, attorneys who are not friends, family members, their hair stylists, their gym trainers, or even a well meaning next door neighbor – - all of whom we could qualify as the “Greek Chorus.” While soliciting advice is not necessarily a bad thing, it can leave clients more confused than ever as to what decisions they should make. It can also slow up and/or impede moving forward with a decision. All these different people want ”the best for their friends of course!”, but sometimes multiple opinions can do more harm than good.
So what should we do? What would the courts dictate? Can you please tell us what to do? These are some of the questions that my clients ask me in mediation when they are brainstorming and confused by the different alternatives available to them.
As a matrimonial attorney, clients consult me while pursuing mediation typically in the context of wanting to make informed decisions. Particularly in a complex case, a client may find the amount of information offered by the mediator daunting, or may wish to better understand the refinements of a particular issue. Accordingly, I am retained as a kind of sounding board. The client attends the mediation session and then discusses with me what he or she has learned, how it impacts his or her personal case, and what other issues may flow from that particular topic. Having the client feel more comfortable and informed can enhance the future mediation sessions.
Following up on my previous blog about the use of professionals during the divorce process, here is my interview with David Cote, who is a Financial Advisor with a top NYC based wealth management firm, and with whom a number of my clients have consulted.
What is the role of a financial advisor during the divorce process?
The role of a financial advisor during the divorce process is to help one or both parties to develop a financial plan that allows them to get on with their lives post-divorce. A divorce requires a separation of assets, followed by new management of your daily expenses and savings. A financial advisor can be very helpful with both these important items.
The divorce mediator is a professional in matrimonial matters but must remain neutral in order to facilitate a conversation between the parties and help them create their own separation/divorce agreement. In this capacity, the mediator cannot take sides or give advice to either party. However, there are times during the mediation process when parties may need advice from other professionals.
The mediator will provide information such as:
What the child support calculations are in New York State
The differences between marital and separate property
Possible tax consequences to investigate before making final decisions on divisions of assets Continue reading
“I am feeling torn and guilty.”
There are times when you may feel afraid to be too close to a divorcing couple. Suddenly, your marriage may seem like it could also be in danger. This is a normal reaction for some and may require a little distancing from those friends.
But divorce is not contagious, one does not catch it like a virus. Sometimes, bumps in your marriage may just trigger a thought that your life is not perfect. But no one’s life is perfect! Most of the bumps do not mean that a divorce is the answer, and can be dealt with in other ways.
However, if you need to take a temporary step back, you may want to tell your friend that you are not abandoning them, you just don’t want to get in the middle. Let them know that they should not be afraid to ask you at any time for help with the kids, to run some errands, cook a meal, or do anything to relieve them from a chore.
Some couples may be having a hard time with day-to-day life together but have not decided to throw in the towel just yet. They are not ready to seek a permanent separation and/or divorce, giving up on all that they have done to create a home together. However, living in close quarters may have become very strained and they may decide that one will move out temporarily while they try to work things out. During this time, they may choose to see a marriage and family therapist together and/or work on their own specific issues with an individual therapist.
That was my initial reaction when my soon-to-be husband brought up the subject of us entering into a prenuptial agreement. I recognize now that I totally misunderstood what my fiance intended, and that in our case, the prenup was just an agreement to protect our children from our previous marriages in the event that one of us died.
Prenups do not necessarily signify a divorce or an anticipation of a failed marriage. They may not even include a mention of divorce if the parties do not wish to discuss that possibility. Prenups may just spell out some agreements that you and your fiance would like to make regarding some important decisions that will result in a more successful marriage.
Part 2: Dealing with your former in-laws after your divorce:
In Part 1, we talked about how parents and in-laws may be affected by their children’s divorce and some things you can do to maintain a positive and open communication with them post-divorce. In part 2, we are going to look at how your divorce may affect your relationship with your in-laws.
During your marriage, you may have grown close to your in-laws and want to preserve that relationship for yourself as well as for your children. Your in-laws will be your children’s grandparents forever, as will their uncles, aunts or other relatives. Here are a few things that you may want to consider: Continue reading
In October, I was interviewed by Christina Nitschmann, Founder of Savvy Customer Service Consultants for her weekly Savvy Central Radio show on BlogTalkRadio.com in which she highlights various business experts.
Christina said that as the child of a horrible, long and highly conflicted divorce, she thought that the only way to get divorced was by hiring separate lawyers and going through an adversarial and litigious process. She was not aware until recently that mediation was an alternative for separation, divorce and other family conflicts, and was interested in talking with me to get more information.
Choosing mediation over an adversarial legal process will help you build a parenting plan of your choice. Together, you and your spouse can put in place the parameters and many details that you think will work best for you and for your children. The mere fact that you are cooperating in building this plan sets an example of communication for your children and will translate into a positive outcome for everyone. When children are confident of the love of both parents, they adjust more quickly and easily to divorce.
- It’s better to wait until you have a parenting plan in place and have figured out where everyone is going to live before you tell the children that you will be separating. The idea of separation may be scary for the children and they need to be reassured among other things as to where they will be living, going to school, if they can still see their friends, and how they will spend time with each of you. By having those important decisions in place, you can let your children know that things are under control.
We all hear, read and learn about using the power of Social Media to increase our own business in our very privileged society. To find out that I am able to help someone who lives in another part of the world, and who is doing so much extraordinary work in a society that is struggling, is even more rewarding!
I am honored to share with all of you a letter that I received from Cornelius Ambiah, a volunteer mediator who works in the slums of Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. He has been following my blogs through a LinkedIn group of which we are both members. He is deploying extraordinary efforts to help people in crisis. This is what he wrote to me:
I keep on reading your posts on family issues and divorce mediation. I have a small group that has been trained in transformative mediation and we are currently doing volunteer work in the slums in Nairobi through the local administration.
My last three blog posts have dealt with the emotion of fear as it relates to divorce and ways to turn that negative into a positive. I have had personal experience with divorce, and understand how fear can be overwhelming, but fear can impact other areas of your life as well. Recently, I faced a different kind of fear that I have had for a long time. I decided to share it with you as an example of how we can challenge and overcome fears in a positive way.
Even as a trained and professional communicator and mediator, I still find speaking to a large audience somewhat daunting. Continue reading
The previous blogs in this series talked about both the negative and positive aspects of fear. In Part III, let’s take a look at the different fears outlined in Part I and think about how we can start making constructive decisions and plans to resolve them.
- How will I live as a single person again?
Remember that even when in a relationship, you are in charge of your own happiness and well being. It is an illusion to think that your significant other is the source of your happiness. Continue reading