Articles Posted in Family Law

Politics and divorce have a lot in common when you think about it. There are two different sides, an array of commentators, and the parties exhibit entrenched thinking from which they find it nearly impossible to budge. Luckily, there are some moments of cooperation in both politics and divorce—and there’s no reason why there can’t be more.

My colleagues and fellow bloggers, Drs. Lauren Behrman and Jeffrey Zimmerman, recently wrote that one of the biggest obstacles to coming to an agreement in divorce or politics is catastrophizing—responding to something perceived as negative with an “end-of-the-world” mentality. People engaged in politics may see the election of a new president as an ominous sign that their very way of life is in danger. Likewise, parenting plans and support schedules can make someone who is a party to a divorce feel as if their way of life is ending.

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{3:56 minute to read}  As a family law attorney and a mediator who is committed to helping my clients stay out of court and resolve their issues with as little animosity as possible, I’m very interested in studying positivity, resilience, and ways to build on people’s strengths. In addition to always having a book or two going on one of these topics, I subscribe to a number of podcasts and blogs that I can rely on to provide me with new ideas, inspiration, and tools to achieve the right mindset to be the best mediator and lawyer I can be. Here are the top five that are currently in heavy rotation on my reading and play lists:

Blog: Hey Sigmund

Hey Sigmund is a psychology blog that features research-based, but easy-to-read articles that help readers “Master the art of being human.” Continue reading

As a mediator and collaborative lawyer, I attract clients whose main priority is to come to an amicable agreement. What I want them to understand is that an amicable agreement does equal a vague agreement. We need to balance the desire for an amicable divorce negotiation with the need to create an agreement that will allow the couple to live amicably long after the divorce is finalized.

Divorce agreements are living documents; my clients are going to keep it alive by turning to it for answers, well into the foreseeable future. A good agreement is therefore a durable agreement.

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I have written before about the benefits of mindfulness and conscious coupling. In this blog I focus on the mindfulness of the attorney or mediator who is working with the couple. Let’s call it “conscious lawyering.”

For a couple considering divorce, the process is going to involve uncomfortable feelings and situations. As a collaborative lawyer or mediator, I am part of that process, too. So the first step to conscious lawyering is taking care of myself; by being mindful of my own emotions and reactions at the negotiating table, and by being able to look at a situation objectively with a wider lens.

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I heard someone suggest that when thinking about New Year’s Resolutions you should think about what you can do that will have an impact in 200-400 years.  And that got me thinking about the work I do and how much of an impact it can have on families.

Personally, I want my work to live on through successive generations of families who communicate well and have healthy relationships with others.

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Before marriage was made available to every American, same-sex couples struggled with issues that married couples could take for granted – like hospital visitation rights, after-death services and inheritance rights.

In order to achieve that same peace of mind that married couples enjoy, gays and lesbians came up with some brilliant solutions to bridge the dire straits in which they found themselves. In New York City, the government began a Domestic Partnership registry which granted hospital visitation, health insurance coverage and the inheritance of rent-controlled apartments, among other things. But because those provisions only applied to government-run agencies, lesbians and gays took matters into their own hands to protect themselves and their partners in the private sector through the use of wills, healthcare proxies and burial instructions. Continue reading

People going through divorce often feel angry, confused, and alone.

They turn to their friends and family when they are contemplating divorce, in the middle of a divorce and all throughout the process.  In fact, I often get calls from family members or friends inquiring about the legal services that I can provide to their loved one.

Supportive friends or family members instinctively seek to protect a person they  love by saying negative things about his or her spouse.

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What looks like just another celebrity breakup might actually be instructive for any divorcing couple.

Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner are going the way of Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin in choosing a non-adversarial way to divorce while living in the public eye.

During her divorce, Paltrow made headlines for describing the process as “conscious uncoupling.” Many attorneys, including myself, appreciated the spotlight she had shone on non-adversarial divorce.

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A high-net-worth couple going through a divorce can benefit greatly by staying out of court.

Couples with considerable assets (which I will define here as more than $5 million) are often lead to believe that their divorce will be a “no holds barred,” brutal, lengthy process with astronomical legal bills and complicated offers and counter-offers. Because of this belief, many high-net-worth couples assume that mediation or the collaborative law process will not work for them.

They couldn’t be more mistaken. In my experience, the opposite is true; high-net-worth families have more to gain by keeping things civil and private. Unfortunately, many attorneys who practice litigation harbor a killer instinct that grows along with their clients’ assets, and they see a litigated divorce as the only way to satisfy that instinct.

Sometimes people in the middle of divorce litigation realize that the court system just isn’t working for them. Time is going by, the costs are piling up, and they seem further from resolution than ever.

At this point, it may be time for them to look at an alternative process, such as mediation, but where do they start? For divorcing couples in New York City for whom finances are tight, I highly recommend looking into FamilyKind, which has been a great resource for many who have found themselves caught in expensive litigation with few results to show for all the money and efforts they’ve expended.

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