The prenup was hell, but in the end it was almost as if that document became a repository for our anxieties, holding on to them so we didn’t have to.

~Abby Mims

The above quote comes from an article in The New York Times titled “Prenup Is a Four-Letter Word.” In the article, the author Abby Mims writes about her experience being asked to sign a prenuptial agreement. She and her fiancé had been together for a number of years and already had a child when they decided to marry — but the fiancé wanted a prenup.

Continue reading

I recently presented a workshop entitled “Collaborating in the Face of Financial Betrayal” at the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals 18th Annual Networking and Educational Forum, alongside my colleagues, Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, Ivy Menchel and Divorce Coach, Abby Rosmarin.

While this workshop was geared to the divorce professionals in the room, there are many lessons that anyone who has dealt with financial betrayal in his or her own marriage — and is contemplating divorce — should understand.

To start, we defined financial betrayal as the keeping of financial secrets in an intimate relationship. Financial secrets are different from other secrets because of the enormous ramifications that often result from them for many years to come.

Continue reading

On September 25th, Anthony Weiner was sentenced to 21 months in prison for sending sexually explicit text messages to a minor. In this article I do not wish to comment on his crime or sentencing, but rather the interesting dynamic in court between him and his wife, Huma Abedin, during their divorce proceedings in the weeks leading up to his sentencing.

Why was it interesting to me? I had seen photos of Abedin and Weiner under breathless headlines in the New York newspapers and I’ve tried to make sense of it all. In the photos, they were sitting elbow-to-elbow in the courtroom, rather than at separate tables, and seemed to be getting along quite well. Continue reading

Why did you choose to be a divorce lawyer?

This is a common question people ask me, and the answer I commonly give is that I initially wanted to work in an area where I could litigate and work with people — as opposed to working with corporations or parcels of land. Family law seemed like a good fit for that. I eventually realized that litigation wasn’t the right path for me or my clients. I’m not so much a fighter as I am an advocate. And that’s why I left litigation behind and moved to collaborative law and mediation. That’s the short answer.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has been in the news lately, and it’s not just for the warped claims he makes on his website and television show “Info Wars.” (Outlets which regularly disseminate Jones’ claims that “9/11 was an inside job”; the school shooting in Newtown, CT was a hoax; and that the government can control the weather and use it against its people.) Instead, Jones has been making headlines because of a custody battle with his ex-wife, Kelly Nichols, who is the mother of his three children.

Earlier this year, Nichols asked a Texas court to award her custody, claiming that Jones’ bizarre behavior, both on and off the air—and his ongoing campaign to alienate their children from her—showed he was an unfit parent. She claimed he was emotionally unstable and incapable of providing a nurturing home, and that he was purposely instilling deep emotional abuse upon the children by “erasing positive memories” of their mother. For his part, Jones claimed his on-air persona is a character, that many of his theories are sarcastic, and that it was Nichols who was an unfit parent.

Continue reading

An interesting decision out of Suffolk County recently established custodial rights of a non-biological parent who was part of a polyamorous relationship. In Dawn M. v. Michael M., the court essentially affirmed the validity of a non-traditional family composed of two women and one man.

Though their names have been revealed in the media, for our purposes we will call the family members Mom 1, Mom 2, Dad, and Child.

Mom 1 and Dad were a married couple who had attempted to conceive with great difficulty. They utilized in vitro fertilization, but unfortunately Mom 1 miscarried. It was after this that the couple befriended Mom 2, who eventually moved into the lower level of the duplex that Mom 1 and Dad occupied. The three grew close and eventually came to consider themselves a family. Mom 2 moved into the upstairs flat a short time later.

After some discussion, the trio decided to go back to the infertility doctor in order to inseminate Mom 2 with Dad’s sperm—but the doctor refused to take part because Dad and Mom 2 were not married. So they decided to do it the old-fashioned way.

Continue reading

Kafkaesque: of, relating to, or suggestive of Franz Kafka or his writings; especially: having a nightmarishly complex, bizarre, or illogical quality, as in Kafkaesque bureaucratic delays.
(Miriam-Webster online dictionary)

As ProPublica recently revealed in detail, Kafka’s dystopian vision is a terrifying reality for many New Yorkers who have had judges appoint forensic psychologists in their custody dispute cases.

In Joaquin Sapien’s thorough (and thoroughly disturbing) article, For New York Families in Custody Fights, a ‘Black Hole’ of Oversight, he reports on the story of a mother separated from her son as a result of an error-filled and incomplete analysis made by a court-appointed forensic psychologist.

In New York, if parents have custody disputes that they cannot resolve on their own, they go to Family Court or Supreme Court. These courts often appoint (and the parties pay for) a forensic psychologist to interview the parents, the child, and other people in their lives such as teachers, caregivers and grandparents. The purpose of these interviews is to help the psychologist make an analysis and issue a report that is meant to help the judge decide what custody determination would be in the best interests of a child.

Continue reading

Sarah Jessica Parker has another critically acclaimed half-hour show on HBO, but this time she is exploring the end of relationships rather than the beginning. Divorce finished its first season on December 11, but is currently available to stream.

Though fictional, I found many aspects of the series to be strikingly real. For example, Sarah Jessica Parker’s character Frances expresses the desire to have as peaceful a divorce as possible, opting to go through mediation instead of litigation. Frances’ husband Robert (played by Thomas Haden Church) initially agrees, but is soon swayed by a friend to skip mediation and hires a litigator instead, leaving Frances at the mediator’s office by herself for the first session.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading