Articles Posted in Divorce

The idea behind paralysis by analysis is when a decision needs to be made, all the options are over-analyzed, and not one “works.” Everything that could happen, should have happened, or did happen is considered and weighed. Then, the paralysis sets in, and no action is taken.

Sometimes this concept can lead to marriages lasting beyond their healthy breakpoint; people are afraid to leave because what awaits on the other side is (understandably) unknown. But, this concept can also carry into the divorce process. For example, let’s say a decision to divorce has been made. When it’s time to analyze the options, the paralysis may begin:

  • “Should I try mediation?”
  • “Should we do the collaborative process?”
  • “Should I just find an attorney who will be my mouthpiece and negotiate on my behalf, and I will never have to see my husband again?”

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If you signed a prenuptial agreement before you got married, and believe there is any chance you and your spouse may divorce in the future, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that was signed into law on December 22, 2017 could seriously affect the deal you bargained for.

One major change that occurred when that law was passed was that spousal support, which is also known as alimony or spousal maintenance, will no longer be tax deductible after 2018 to the spouse who is paying it, and will no longer need to be claimed as income by the person receiving it. Under the new law, a separation agreement must be signed within the calendar year of 2018, or there needs to be a judgment of divorce signed in 2018 directing that spousal support will be considered tax deductible in future years.

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Online programs such as It’s Over Easy can walk you through a divorce process, but should you really, completely, “do it yourself” (DIY)?  You might have gone into the divorce process thinking, “We want a simple divorce.” Then you realize that you and your spouse have issues you didn’t even know you need to resolve. It’s at that point you realize it’s not necessarily going to be “over easy.”

If that describes you, mediation can be a great compliment to your online divorce. Artificial intelligence and its applications can help you move through the divorce process: It can generate a checklist of issues that need to be resolved; it can generate legal forms; it may have built-in tools to help create a parenting plan. But it’s not going to help you come to a thoughtful agreement if there is a dispute between you and your spouse.

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View a portion of Andrea Vacca’s presentation on the topic of “Real Estate in Splitsville” to the group UnTied: The Thinking Women’s Divorce Resource.

Click here to watch the video.

Vacca Law & Mediation

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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