The Art Of Negotiation in Divorce

By John Morrison, M.A., CDFA

Do you tense up in negotiation? Ever experience that uneasy feeling in your gut when you go to a car dealership? As you may know, hours later you hope you made a deal that was better for you than the dealership. The same goes for Divorce; the better you can negotiate, the better the end result.

An aspect of divorce and other family conflicts that is often not much talked about is that it involves negotiation. Few of us have ever received any training in negotiation. Many of us are uncomfortable in the face of opportunities to negotiate money matters.

Bargaining is standard practice in many cultures but not in the U.S. Here our tendency is either to accept or reject financial offers or requests rather than haggle over them.

Yet we negotiate interpersonal non-financial matters all the time. Here again though, some people are comfortable engaging in dialogue to try to get what they want or reach an acceptable compromise. Many others find it emotionally challenging.

Like any skill, you only get to be good at negotiating by learning about it and then practicing it. Fortunately a lot of research has been done on the subject and there are some great books on it.

When you are divorcing one of the last things you probably feel like thinking about is assessing and improving your ability to negotiate. Yet every divorce mediation is a negotiation because a number of decisions need to be made jointly. How well you negotiate may very well affect not only the financial outcome of the divorce but how you feel about it, both in the short term and the long term. If you have children, it may well affect the nature of the co-parenting plan you develop.

The need to be a good negotiator in divorce is much less if you and your spouse still genuinely care about each others' well-being and want solutions that are respectful and fair. If however there is now a gulf between the two of you and trust or care is diminished, your ability to negotiate may well have a significant impact on the outcome.

Good negotiators are both assertive and attentive and balance the two. While not wishing to over-generalize, women tend to be attentive and men tend to be assertive. This is a good vantage point from which to begin to assess your current negotiating skills. Are you good at both, just one or neither?

My next article provides some negotiation principles which may be helpful to you.

Relocating With Children After Divorce

Relocation with Children After Divorce

There are issues surrounding child custody, visitation, and support that must be addressed. Once a final order of custody is put in place, it can become very hard for the primary care parent (PCP) to relocate out of town with a child. But, it is not impossible.

Let’s assume that you were granted residential custody of your child during divorce, and your ex has visitation rights that allows them to spend a certain amount of time each week with the child. Your agreement should contain language stipulating where each parent can live, or how far away from their current city they can move. This kind of stipulation is included in custody agreements in an attempt to allow the non-custodial parent to continue to foster a relationship with their child.

Included in custody agreements are stipulations outlining whether or not a parent can relocate, and how far they are allowed to move. If attempting to relocate outside of the previously agreed upon distance, the party wishing to move must file a Petition for the Modification of a Custody.

Before filing a modification petition, it is a good idea to meet with your ex and discuss your desire to relocate with your child. The courtesy of doing so not only reflects an attempt at successful co-parenting, but may also keep the two of you from entering into a contested relocation and visitation battle in the court room. Agreeing on a new custody or visitation terms can make your petition for modification much easier and less expensive.

In the landmark case of Tropea v. Tropea, the New York Court of Appeals ruled that decisions on relocation requests must be made on an individual basis, taking into consideration all facts specific to each case. A judge must take many factors under advisement before ruling on a relocation petition, some of which may include:

The reason why a parent wants to move (job opportunity, new marriage, etc.)
How relocating a child will impact their relationship with the non-custodial parent (NCP) or their extended family
Whether or not the move will benefit the child emotionally, mentally, or physically
The monetary cost, or amount of travel time, it will take for the child and NCP to maintain their current visitation schedule.
Ultimately, the decision on whether or not a PCP is allowed to relocate with their child will come down to what is in the child’s best interest. For example, let’s say you have residential custody of your child. You become romantically involved with another person who lives in a different state, and the two of you get married. Despite your new marital status and desire to be with your spouse, you may not be allowed to move your child across state lines if it will greatly impair the relationship between the child and other biological parent.

Alternatively, a judge may rule in your favor if you are seeking permission to relocate with your child because of a new and more fruitful job opportunity. The promise of a higher salary and better standard of living may be enough to convince a court to modify a custody and visitation order, because the child will directly benefit.

A parenting plan is a document that outlines child custody, visitation, and financial support obligations (not including child support), and are agreed upon between parties prior to any final orders being ruled on by a judge. Since relocating will put a kink in a current parenting plan, both parties and their attorneys will need to work together to develop a new plan.

A common stipulation found in parenting plans that have been changed due to relocation of the child is extended visitation time with the NCP. These visits usually take place over summer vacation, or holiday breaks from school. For instance, since the NCP’s weekend overnight visits will not be possible once the child relocates, he or she will be awarded visitation time over spring break, summer vacation, and a couple major holidays.

Since every custodial dynamic is different, modified parenting plans will change depending on your individual case specifics. It is always best to be cooperative and open minded with your ex, to avoid expensive litigation. Retaining an experienced family law attorney can be incredibly beneficial, and will help to ensure that your modificationpetition results in a positive and favorable outcome for all parties involved.

At Brian D. Perskin & Associates P.C., we understand how intimidating the court system can be, especially with sensitive matters like post-judgment modifications and relocation cases. This is why we strive to make the process as seamless and stress-free for our clients as possible. Whether you’re faced with the possibility of losing precious parenting time, or need to relocate with your child, we’re here to help. For more information, or to schedule a free consultation, call 718-875-7584 today!

What You Need To Know In Divorce


by Jonathan Livnat

In her article “The Twelve Financial Pitfalls of Divorce”[1], says Ginita Wall that “during divorce, many women are concerned about financial survival—and with good reason. Studies show that in the first year after divorce, the wife’s standard of living may drop almost 27 percent while the husband’s may increase by as much as 10 percent”. Ginita’s advice to women who go through divorce or just thinking about is to plan ahead: “Advance planning goes a long way. By familiarizing yourself with the twelve financial pitfalls of divorce, you can save yourself a lot of heartbreak—and hassle—in the future”.

The 12th Pitfall on her list is Not Getting Good Professional Advice. ”Right now, you need all the help you can get! Divorce can be very complicated, so don’t try to do it all yourself. Hire an attorney who can give you excellent advice—even if he or she isn’t the most inexpensive. Engage a forensic accountant if you think there might be hidden assets. Find a good therapist to help you emotionally. Hire a divorce financial professional to help determine the best settlement options for you. Don’t skimp now on matters that will affect the rest of your life.”

While the professionals mentioned here are needed and divorcing souses should seek their advice, there is one professional Ginita forgot to mention you should seek their advice as well – Divorce Real Estate Specialist, RCS-D. And interestingly enough, if we go by Ginita’s list of the 12 pitfalls, we will see how Divorce Real Estate Specialist’advice is needed every step of the way.

Pitfall#1 – Not Enough Cash: often times one spouse wants to keep the house – we make sure they take into account the monthly expenses and repairs the house might need or will need in the future. We explain how much it would cost, we take into consideration alimonies and other payments the other spouse might have committed to pay- but we make them aware it’s not forever and it might run out way before it was originally planned for. We make them aware of situations they will need to pay a large sum of money, but their ex-spouse will not have to be part of it so it will be their own responsibility. With the information we provide they can better decide of how much cash is really needed and where this source of cash/income will come from (or not).

Pitfall #3 – No Records: “The three most important words during divorce are: document, document, documents” Whether both spouses names are on the mortgage (and it’s only one of them) and/or on the title –we help you get all those house related documents not lonely you did not know where to get them from, but even those you did not know you needed.

Pitfall #4 – Overlooking assets: while looking for hidden assets in general, the martial home is the most obvious overlooked assets of all. Marital homes are not being evaluated appropriately and accurately, causing one or both spouses to later lose big money on it. Mariela homes are overlooked in divorce in the sense of their condition and the financial ramifications that come with it. Marital homes are overlooked in divorce in the sense of title and lien searches and their financial ramifications that cannot and should not be ignored. Martial homes are overlooked in the sense of changes to the homeowners’ insurance (change in ownership; who’s the one to actually reside in the house, and is the house now in a flood zone) and their financial ramifications. As Divorce Real Estate Specialists we make sure these areas are covered and all this information (and documentation – see Pitfall #3) is provided to both or one of the divorcing spouses (whoever is asking for it).

Pitfall #6 – Ignorance is bliss: “During divorce, ignorance is certainly not bliss—instead, it can be very, very expensive. Don’t be a passive observer of your own divorce. Doing as much as you can by yourself will help you recover more quickly from the divorce because you will have a healthy sense of control over the process..” Divorce Real Estate Specialist’s focus is to provide and gather house related information and documents. But at the end of the day, it all comes down to educating divorcing spouses about the risks that lay ahead of them and the solutions and options that are available for them to choose from in order to avoid making costly mistakes.

Pitfall #7- Mixing money and emotion: “During this trying time, it’s easy to confuse your feelings with the facts. Try to be as dispassionate and businesslike as possible…Make property division decisions based on your own long-term best interest, not out of revenge.”

Divorce Real Estate Specialists are a third party to the divorce. Our focus is everything that has to with the marital home. Our job is help divorcing spouses have all the information they need, so they are realistic about their options. By having the so needed information divorcing spouses can make educated decisions regarding their marital home and protect their financial future and their children’s.

Pitfall #9 – Not taking control: “Going through a divorce can sometimes make you feel like the captain of a leaky boat on stormy seas—there seems to be a new crisis at every turn.” The information Divorce Real Estate Specialist provides helps you be in control by knowing all you need to know about your home. When your decisions are educated and not just a guess, you are in control.

Pitfall #10 – Not being ready for the worst: “During divorce, prepare yourself mentally for the worst that can happen…if your ex remarries within two weeks, moves to Tahiti, and/or refuses to pay any support?” As already mentioned earlier, Divorce Real Estate Specialist provides information and help gather needed documents. They point out risks and potential complications that if addressed appropriately ahead of time, will save divorcing spouses money, time and grief.

Real Estate Divorce Consulting is helping divorcing spouses with marital properties protect their financial future and their children’s. Our goal is to help you gather all the information and documents you need in order to make educated decisions. We believe that if you are properly informed about the risks and complications ahead of you, better decisions will be made.

Source and credit:


#divorce, #divorcerealestate,

The Secret to Successful Divorce Negotiations

Asking “WHY” – The Secret to Successful Divorce Negotiations
by Andrea Vacca

Here's another set of reasons why going to court, going to trial in a Divorce does more harm than good. Compromise often leads to a much healthier outcome for all involved.

One of the weaknesses of litigated divorce is that it encourages rigid thinking that stands in the way of compromise.

Choosing your battles wisely is an important strategy in all areas of life, including if you are in the process of divorce. Unfortunately, traditional divorce attorneys often neglect to give their clients this advice, encouraging them to fight for everything they say they want, regardless of how impractical, impossible or destructive it may be. And when the other spouse inevitably takes opposite positions on those same issues, there’s nowhere to go but to the courthouse where both parties will be subjected to the slow-moving and very public litigation process.

Practitioners of non-adversarial divorce, such as mediators and collaborative law attorneys, call this mindset “positional thinking.” Positional thinking is black and white. It’s drawing a line in the sand. And it happens when someone feels the need to defend his or her reasons, behavior or decisions based on the past rather than what is actually important in the present or future. In a divorce, examples look something like this:

Wanting to continue living in a residence that isn’t affordable.
Refusing to share retirement assets.
Insisting on a parenting schedule that leaves one parent disconnected from the children.
While positional thinking communicates WHAT someone wants, interest-based thinking asks WHY they want it.

Divorce professionals see positional thinking all the time. Especially when we first meet with our clients. It’s completely normal behavior. But if we want to keep our clients out of court where battle lines will be drawn, we need to help them dig deeper and move beyond this thinking. The key is to ask “WHY” questions such as:

Why is important to you to continue living in your home until your children graduate from college?
Why are you willing to give your spouse the majority of the other assets just so that you can keep your 401(k).
Why do you feel it’s important that the children spend every school night at your home?
When we know what is driving the clients to take certain positions, we can create a wider range of outcomes that might be acceptable to both of them. For example:

One spouse may want to sell the marital home while the other wishes to keep it. Instead of arguing those positions to a judge, both spouses should be asked why it is important. What is each person trying to achieve with that outcome? It could be that the person who wants to keep the house feels that way because the carrying costs are reasonable, it’s close to the children’s school, or there are close ties to the community.

The person who wants to sell can be motivated by equally valid concerns. Perhaps he or she needs access to the equity, or needs to get his or her name off of a mortgage in order to buy a new home—or perhaps it’s purely an emotional issue. Not until we can understand what is really important to both of them can we try to find solutions that meet both their needs.

Making sense of positions, interests, fears and desires is a monumental task. The first thing to do is to contact a lawyer who is trained as a mediator or collaborative lawyer, not just any lawyer who claims to “settle” most cases. You want someone who thinks differently from the pack, who is on the cutting edge of alternative dispute resolution, and who has a rich professional network of other divorce professionals who can take on more specialized roles as they become necessary—like financial experts, coaches or therapists.

To find out more about my team and me contact us here.

Andrea Vacca

570 Lexington Avenue, Suite 1600
New York, NY 10022

Cooking Up Trouble

By Melinda Truitt

People who are hurting, sad and going through difficult times need light hearted moments. This essay is meant to entertain during what can be a difficult beginning to the holiday season. I hope it brings a chuckle to those who need it most.

The holidays are fast approaching and along with this an avalanche of pressure to produce a memorable experience for the family to preserve via photos, videos and social media. The fear of failure is almost too much to bear for someone like me.

There are millions of books, articles, recipes, pictures and memories of some delicious meals and deserts being prepared in countless kitchens on every continent on this planet
With the exception of mine. Lol

I have never claimed to be a good cook and certainly was never heralded as one. As far back in my adult life as I can remember I shouldered the caustic shame of feeling subpar in the world of gourmet Viking stove owners….many of which I have known personally.
I have resorted, over the years, to using humor to deflect my laughable inadequacy.
Truth is, however, our family gets a jolt of pleasurable hysteria reliving the various mishaps and attempts at my culinary bravery.

I was too young to remember the actual dinner, maybe because I wasn’t even there, when my mother almost set fire to the lap of a dinner guest as her Baked Alaska’s flaming trail blazed its way down the center of the dining room table.

I must be truthful though…my mother is a very good cook. She prefers entertaining, however, to the mundane ‘what are we going to do with this damn chicken or hamburger tonight’ dilemma.

I like entertaining too….with the stories.

I was engaged at 19 while still a junior in college and arrangements had been made for me to make a spaghetti dinner for my fiancé and his roommate while they were still at work so that it would be ready for them when they got home. When I let myself into the roommates house I was pleased to find that my fiancé had filled a large pot with water, put a bit of oil on top of the water so the noodles wouldn’t stick and left a note for me that basically all I had to do was boil the water and cook the pasta. He would help with the sauce when he arrived.


Well… growing up I remembered my mother telling me that oil can catch fire when over-heated and to be careful when cooking with it. I have no idea why I remembered that and not much else but so be it…

A few minutes after turning on the burner it began to smoke. I know now that burners do that when something is being burned off…well…in my 19 going on 12 year old brain I thought the oil resting on the water in the pot was on the verge of starting a fire….I quickly turned off the burner quite satisfied with myself that I had averted disaster and would be lauded a hero….

My soon to be husband along with his stunned roommate had more to do than help with the sauce when they got in from work….but he married me anyway.

Very early in my marriage I thought I’d surprise my husband by making a quiche…maybe that’s why I’m divorced….

I was missing a few ingredients…not in the quiche, because it was actually one of those ridiculous ‘pour-a-quiche’ things that came in a carton like milk did. I’m starting to giggle just thinking about the stupidity of it all. It was a laughable thought that I could pull this off as a fluffy gourmet meal. The ingredients I was missing were actually of an intellectual nature. In my excitement, although I doubt it now, I failed to realize that frozen crusts came 2 to a package…After 3 hours of the bitch being in the oven it had yet to set. My husband opened the oven and started laughing… “uh, Mindi, honey, I think I’ve discovered the problem.”

Yes…I had both crusts in their foil pans with the paper liner between them in the oven holding the watery ridiculous quiche…He took me out that night I think….

Newlyweds can and do flounder at times…and I’m not talking about the fish….

When the cooking bag actually melted on my first Thanksgiving turkey I thought that meant it was done....

I had the world’s greatest mother-in-law. She set the bar high that first morning of the weekend I was taken to meet “the family”. She was up early stirring away at a pot on the stove. This remarkable upstate New Yorker was cooking grits especially for me. I was overcome with love which quickly turned to embarrassment when she asked me if she was making them correctly.

I had no idea.

When I sheepishly informed her I used instant grits we both dissolved in laughter. She cried at our wedding. When asked why she claimed it was because she had been afraid I’d change my mind. Now, I wonder, if it was really because she had come to the horrifying realization that her son might starve. He, however, was a wonderful cook so he probably kept me from starving.

Then there’s the famous grilled cheese story years later when trying to make the sandwich for one of my children in the kitchen of a new house we’d just moved into. I realized with the help of the builder, who was there that afternoon, and my husband that 20 minutes into the process the stove wasn’t actually plugged in.

There were the Christmas cookies I made with my 5 year old daughter…which I frosted BEFORE baking.…

The hardboiled egg that wasn’t quite….
I put it in the microwave after peeling it, for a few seconds. I was attempting to eat something light before a huge awards dinner at which my husband was to be recognized and I didn’t want to be hungry. As I took the now pissed off egg out of the microwave and pressed a fork to the yolk it exploded and hit me in the eye…

Fortunately the pictures from that night didn’t show the slight burn. Talk about having egg on your face….

Having Scotch Eggs on Easter morning was a major tradition in my husband’s family and I had watched his mother and grandmother make them. They were delicious. My first attempt, when left to my own devices, left the entire family a fond memory of their newest southern addition. I boiled the eggs, had both kinds of sausage ready, baking sheet…the works…

Remembering to actually peel the eggs before wrapping them in sausage before baking was not written into the recipe…probably because in the history of Reinheimer Scotch Egg making it hadn’t needed to be….

Feeling like a culinary loser I tried harder as the years went by and actually mastered Rahm Schnitzel complete with Spaetzle made from scratch as a specialty. I prepared it for a German NATO diplomat who actually visited our home when we lived in Raleigh during the 1990’s. We had met Colonel Buch in Munich on a train the previous year during our 10th anniversary trip to Germany. We remain lifelong friends. I did not attempt desert but had a cake made with the German and American flags intertwined.

He was impressed and I finally had a positive story to tell.

My daughter had made strides with her easy bake oven by this time and was very much ahead of me in skill. 🙂

Years went by, meals were prepared and eaten. Dishes were washed and wine was poured. Holidays were celebrated, stories told and yes…reservations were made…
Unfortunately my lack of true culinary calling followed me to my brand new, first post-divorce apartment when I accidentally preheated my warranty and the roasting pan it was taped to.

My boss laughed when I told him at work the next day and tried to politely inquire what I had made for dinner while attempting to keep my ego intact. When I told him chicken and rice, he, being an extremely good and innovative cook, smiled and replied, “ahhh…chicken and something beige…” God I loved him.

So… the legacy of family traditions and memories include much laughter at the mishaps and the pictures tell the stories…my favorite being the one of yet a second Baked Alaska being held aloft over an elaborately set holiday dinner table skewered on a butcher knife for the photo because it was still frozen despite being properly set ablaze…

I tell all of these stories, with still more in reserve for a possible sequel, to remind everyone that life isn’t all about the perfect but the wonderful memories of the imperfect….

“Conflict Revolution – Mediators as Agents of Social Change.”

"Conflict Revolution - Mediators as Agents of Social Change."
By Mark Baer, Esq.

Southern California Mediation Association (SCMA) had its 27th Annual Fall Conference on November 6-7, 2015. The title of that conference was "Conflict Revolution - Mediators as Agents of Social Change."

On April 10, 2015, before SCMA invited requests for proposals, I was approached to spearhead a program for that conference because a number of people on the Board of that organization view me as a "change agent." They specifically requested that I submit a proposal on the issue of LGBT civil rights, which I did and it was approved.

The title of the program was "Equal Rights for the LGBT Community: The Last Frontier Of The Civil Rights Movement" and its description was as follows:

"Learn what you can do to be an agent for social change in what has been referred to as ‘the last civil rights movement’: LGBT rights. Notwithstanding the Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage equality, a number of states do not prohibit employment or housing discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Additionally, religious liberty laws are being enacted in various states, which permit discrimination against LGBT individuals. Panel members will share their own experiences relating to issues that members of the LGBT community face, and will assist those that attend this program to acquire an insight that will aid in the empathetic process when faced with such issues in mediation."

Joining me on the panel were Leonard S. Levy, Esq., Mediator, ADR Services Inc. and David Fleischer, Director, Leadership LAB, Los Angeles LGBT Center.

In any event, it was the first time I had attended an SCMA Conference and will by no means by my last. I'm so thankful that they reached out to me to spearhead a program because otherwise I may have missed out on the amazing conference.

Rather than getting into the various wonderful programs, I want to focus on one, in particular -- The Closing Plenary given by Kenneth Cloke. It was titled “Conflict Revolution: Designing Mediative Approaches to Race, Gender, Economic Inequality, Immigration, Climate Change and Electoral Politics.” The description was as follows:

“From Ferguson to Athens, Damascus, Hungary and Beijing; from racism to religious intolerance and hostility toward immigrants, we are witnessing a massive increase in global conflict, and are now in the midst of a deeply divisive electoral process. What is our responsibility as dispute resolvers for the social, economic, political and environmental conflicts that are taking place around us? Can we apply conflict resolution principles to the inequalities, inequities and dysfunctions that fuel these chronic conflicts? Are we not implicitly responsible for learning not only how to discuss and resolve them, but to redesign the conflict generating structures, processes, institutions and practices that ensure their chronic recurrence? Can mediation and conflict resolution systems design create a “conflict revolution” in how we respond to social, economic and political conflicts? And is it possible to bring these changes about without recreating the very problems we seek to solve?”

The PowerPoint from that program can be found at the following link:

The Closing Plenary was based upon Ken Cloke’s recently published book titled "Conflict Revolution - Mediating Evil,War, Injustice and Terror." The description of that book is as follows:

"Ken Cloke is one of the foremost authorities on the origins of past and present day conflict, and how it is resolved. From the basics of interpersonal relationships and emotions to crime, labor management relations, prejudice, the environment, politics, education and economics, Ken walks us through what it means to become a global citizen on this planet and empowers us with techniques that are different from what we have done unsuccessfully for thousands of years. Ken shows us how to transform our social, economic and political institutions, and help save the planet.

Conflict Revolution will change the way you see the world and your important role in its future."

We are extremely fortunate to have Kenneth Cloke and I would strongly suggest that we start listening to him!

Let’s Talk Parenting

By Lee Chabin

I recently came across an article, ‘Custody’ and ‘access’ terms promote conflict, litigation. (Thanks to whoever shared it.) The article appears on “ Canada’s Legal News”, but is as valid for readers in the United States as it is for Canadians.

The subject of the article – how language affects conflict in parenting disputes – isn’t new. You may know that “custody”, the term found in many statutes dealing with arrangements for children following a separation or divorce, is the same word used in the criminal justice system (as in, “The suspect was taken into custody”). It is also the same word that is sometimes used in regard to property. But of course, children are not prisoners or property.

But, does language really matter?

Speaking from personal experience, I can say that one or two words can make a very big difference. Many years ago, during my own divorce, I was absolutely infuriated when my wife’s attorney condescended to tell me that “Your daughter can visit with you. You can have a room for her, with her own bed. . .” I mean, how hard would it have been for that lawyer to have said instead, “Let’s talk about how the two of you as parents are going to raise your child.” Like “custody”, “visitation” is a word associated with the criminal justice system.

The article notes that:

British Columbia is the first Canadian jurisdiction to change the terminology from “custody” and “access” to “parental responsibilities,” “parenting time” and “contact” in the province’s new Family Law Act.
How many of the states in the U.S. have done the same is a question I can’t answer. (If you happen to know, please share that information). But it is a step forward, and not an insignificant one.

One reason that the article made an impression on me is because a judge was quoted as saying:

“These words denote that there are winners and losers when it comes to children,” says Justice Mary Lou Benotto . . . “They promote an adversarial approach to parenting and do little to benefit the child. The danger of this ‘winner/loser syndrome’ in child custody battles has long been recognized.”
When judges speak out, at least a few people tend to notice. But, changes that would seem to allow for obvious improvements can be frustratingly slow; and, I’m not expecting the terms “custody”, “visitation” and “access” to be replaced nationwide anytime soon.

By the way, if you read the article, you will see that an attorney who is interviewed for it, Steven Benmor, offers that “replacing [such] words with “parenting time” would be in the best interest of the child.” [emphasis added]. Recently, I wrote about this subject for, in a piece entitled Best Interest of the Child: A Vague Notion. The article does not define “best interest of the child”; but, it is interesting to see how this nebulous phrase – one that denotes an extremely important concept – is used.

Who’s To Judge?

guilty! guilty! guilty!
By Jennifer Safian
Divorce and Family Mediator, Private practice,

Why do some who have never experienced divorce look down on those who have, as if they are lesser human beings?
Why do some family members reject their own when they are going through divorce?
Why do some of those we thought were our better friends, let us down when we are going through divorce?
Why do some of our children feel embarrassed telling their schoolmates that their parents are getting divorced?
Divorce, despite the fact that it affects about 50% of first marriages and 60% of second marriages, continues to carry a negative stigma. And in doing so, it makes those going through it feel even worse than they do already. When going through divorce, one does not need additional finger pointing, blaming and rejection:

You did not try hard enough;
You should have compromised;
You were too demanding; or
Maybe just too selfish.
Some may have faulted, acted without thinking, caused pain to their spouse and children. Does that necessarily make them bad people? And guilty? No. They are just in terrible pain and often temporarily lose perspective. Who are we to make judgments, especially when we have not experienced such trauma? Supporting . . . Let’s be more understanding of those whom we may think are guilty. Before we point our fingers at them, let’s stop and ask ourselves, do we really know what happened behind their closed doors, who did what, when, and why? Why don’t we begin to recognize that people going through a divorce, whether:

Family or Friends
Acquaintances or Strangers
need our support, understanding and affection. We may still be in our own marriage, happy, working as best we can through life’s challenges. Other times we may not be so happy but we hold on for our own variety of reasons. Divorcing people are like each of us, dealing with their problems and trying to make the best of their lives. Let’s allow those who make different choices, do what feels right to them. Let’s offer them a shoulder to cry on, ears to listen without judgement, and arms to embrace them when they need comfort.

Have you ever been too quick to judge a divorcing person as guilty?

Familysteps Provides Emotional Help For Kids Of Divorce

By Michelle Zudeck

What happens when you combine family therapy and emotional learning with creative avatars and animated role play? You get Familysteps, an app created by Simon Dermody, a family clinician from London, England. Simon is also an Author, Composer and App Designer. He has three children and still has a therapy practice in Harley Street, London. He created Familysteps to share his thirty years of experience of working with children and families, and to explore the potential for new app technologies for emotional learning.

" We partnered with LifeThruDivorce because they offer such a great range of services and information to parents and kids negotiating the divorce transition. Their website provides essential skills , services and articles that will empower and inform parents and children. Our state of the art app technology adds to the self help creativity available." - Simon Dermody

To have Simon Dermody and Familysteps be a part of is truly innovative and exciting. The Familysteps app helps families in their divorce transition with powerful, guided therapeutic role play situations geared toward each family member. We are proud to offer this revolutionary app to members, available on Google and Itunes." - Perri Teitelbaum, Michelle Zudeck, Founders

Sole Custody? Not So Fast.

I Am Looking To Get Sole Custody of My Son
By Mark Baer

The following is an inquiry that was just posted on and an example of the kind of thinking that tends to harm children:

"I need a lawyer for a child custody case. I am looking to get full custody."

Please don't think that such a statement is unusual. In fact, not a day goes by in which I don't receive such an inquiry from a potential client.

It's all about what parents WANT, without any concern for what is in the "best interest of the child."

Sadly, parents BELIEVE that what they WANT is in the best interest of the child. Not only are those concepts not one and the same, but the other parent almost always WANTS something different and BELIEVES that what they WANT is in the child's best interest.

While both parents battle each other to try and prove that what they WANT is in the best interest of the child, they spend their child's college tuition, exacerbate the conflict, increase the distrust between them, destroy their ability to effectively co-parent, and harm the child.

For clarity, when parents act in such a manner, the only person involved in the case responsible for assessing what's in the child's best interest is the judge. Furthermore, the judge has such limited knowledge of the family that their subjective determination may or may not actually be in the best interest of the child.

I really will never understand how parents can be so harmful to their children and delude themselves to the contrary.

Oh, and in case you're interested, I won't even bother scheduling consultations with such individuals. In fact, just yesterday, I had an interesting conversation with someone who had made just such an inquiry. The conversation went as follows:

Potential Client: "I am seeking SOLE custody of MY son and would like to schedule a consultation with you."

My Response: "I'm afraid that I don't handle such matters."

Potential Client: "Aren't you a family law attorney?"

My Response: "Yes."

Potential Client: "If you're a family law attorney, what do you mean that you don't handle such matters?"

My Response: "My brothers and I were all children of a litigated divorce. We have very personal knowledge of just how much harm parents cause their children when they have such an attitude. Furthermore, after 25 years of practicing law, I am very well-aware of the harm parents cause their children when they litigate their divorce and get into custody battles."

Potential Client: "But you're supposedly a family law attorney."

My Response: "I most certainly am. I work to help parents to resolve such issues on their own, through mediation, collaboration, and/or negotiation."

Potential Client: "I'm not interested in working with HIM. Would you at least give me a referral to an attorney who handles such things?"

Ah, as an aside, children typically have two parents. Therefore, it speaks volumes when a parent refers to their child as "My son", "My daughter", "My children", "My kids", etc. Oh, and referring to the father as "him" is de-parenting him.

The Process Of Divorce

By Susan Ingram
Divorce & Family Mediator and Attorney; Conflict and Negotiation Coach

Curls of Wisdom: Trusting in the Process
I have naturally curly hair. Of course, in my youth I always wanted long straight locks. The type that when you flirtingly tilted your head, your hair would gracefully cascade to the side. Or that you could sweep into a beautiful chignon with just a few flicks of your wrist. But, alas, that was not to be. Thank goodness, I came to terms with this by my early ‘30s, when I started to really enjoy my natural curls.

Now fast-forward a few decades. About a year ago, I had to change hair stylists. (That’s another story!) We curly-haired types know that “The Cut” is everything. My new hair stylist, Elana, was excellent with The Cut, but she had a different way of drying my hair afterwards so that my curls ended up being what I thought were too tight and “un-natural” looking. So…each time after she cut and dried my hair, I would return home and wash it again immediately. Yes, I know that sounds crazy – and I would never admit it to Elana.

Last month when I went for my routine haircut, things happened a little differently. I had more errands than usual and could not do my repeat-wash that same day. I reluctantly realized I had to put off doing it until the next day. But something strange happened when I got up and looked in the mirror the following morning – my curls looked great. They even looked better than when I washed and dried them myself.

How could this be?!? Then it hit me – I had been so anxious to see the immediate results and so set in my old ways of doing it, that I never even gave the new process an opportunity to unfold. Much like the fears and concerns that arise with my couples in divorce mediation….

My divorcing couples are going through an incredibly difficult time in their lives. They’re justifiably anxious, worried, concerned from the very beginning as to how things will work out. I explain to them that we’ll be using the mediation process to explore all of their concerns and issues. They won’t have all of their answers right away; instead, their choices and decision-making will become clearer as they work through each of our sessions. In other words, they need to slow down and trust both in me (as their mediator) and in the process itself.

Hmmmm . . . sounds like a lesson I’ve recently had to relearn!

Susan Ingram
Susan Ingram Mediation & Coaching

What The Numbers Reveal About Divorce Finances

Check out what the US Survey Data says about Divorce and spousal support.

by Jonathan Livnat

“The sad truth of the matter is that the majority of ex-husbands simply don’t honor the financial terms of their divorce settlements. Moreover, it can be exceedingly difficult to get your non-paying ex to make good on his obligation for spousal support.” Jeff Landers[1]

Despite the fact that there are many legal ways to convince spouses to keep their financial obligations to pay alimony, child and/or spousal support, in reality, many find ways to avoid payments, not to mention cases in which the law justifies the discontinue of payments.

From the information gathered from the U.S. Survey Data about divorce in U.S.A. we learn that in the vast majority of the cases, mothers are named to be the custodial parent. We also learn that alimony, child and/or spousal support are not a sure thing or forever, as over half of the non-custodial parents have paid only partial payments or not at all. When adding the fact that half of the custodial mothers did not have a steady job (or did not work all), it is clear that mothers who go through divorce are exposed to major financial risks once the divorce is finalized. These financial risks should be of great concern especially to mothers who choose to keep the marital home.

Having a job that cannot support paying the bills and depending only on the ex’s support can turn out to be a huge financial mistake, one that will be almost impossible to fix and very hard to recover from. Mothers should seek the guidance and advice of real estate divorce specialists to make sure they make informed decisions before they sign their divorce papers and before it’s too late.

The reality described by the U.S survey data [2]

Children living with a parent who divorced in 2009 were more likely to live in a household headed by their mother (75%) than in a household headed by their father (25 %). In 2011 81.7 % of custodial parents were mothers and 18.3 were fathers.
The age of custodial mothers has increased over the past 18 years. While in 1994 25.4% were 40 years or older, by 2012 the proportion had grown to 39.1%
47.8% of custodial mothers were non-Hispanic White, more than one-quarter were Black 27.5 %, and 21.4% were Hispanic. Custodial fathers were more likely than custodial mothers to be non-Hispanic White 60.6%, less likely to be Black 16.3%, or Hispanic 18.8%. While the majority of custodial parents had one child 56.8%, custodial mothers were more likely than custodial fathers to have two or more children living with them in 2012 45.3% and 33.7%, respectively).
Nine of every 10 custodial parents (89.2 %) who were due child support were mothers.
43.4 % of custodial parents due support received all payments they were due. 30.7 % received some, but not all child support. 25.9 received no payments from their children noncustodial parent.(2011)
Women who divorced in the past 12 months (2012) were more likely than recently divorced men to be in poverty (22 percent compared with 11 percent).
The educational level of custodial mothers increased during the past 12 years. In 1994, 22.2% of custodial mothers had less than a high school education, and 17.1 % had at least an associate’s degree. By 2006, the proportion of custodial mothers who had not graduated from high school decreased to 15.1 percent, and the proportion with at least an associate’s degree increased to 25.6 percent. In 2012 it grew to 30.4%.
Custodial mothers were less likely than custodial fathers to be employed, with one-half (50.1 percent) having full-time, year-round employment and more than one quarter (28.5) having part-time or part-year employment in 2005.



[1]. financial-terms-of-your-divorce-settlement/

[2]. 144.html

#alimony #divorce #childsupport