Don Sinkov

Mediation Companies: Good for Business, or Bad for Mediation?

Mediation Companies: Good for Business, or Bad for Mediation? by Don Sinkov{2:54 to read} Recently, I was approached by two companies that call themselves nationwide mediation companies. They market themselves to large businesses and corporations, usually through Employee Assistance Programs (EAP). They claim to provide qualified mediators to these employers at a discounted rate, as an alternative to hiring a private mediator and paying their full fee.

Who Are These People?

They appear to be business people that are trying to insert themselves between the client and the mediator. They can make large fees by convincing corporations and businesses that they are the best source for providing mediators at a discounted rate.  Continue reading


Mediation: Last Resort, or First Choice?

Mediation: Last Resort, or First Choice? by Don Sinkov{3:12 minutes to read}

A couple had been in litigation for a little over 6 months and were running out of money. The 6 months were spent by the lawyers in discovery, producing endless bank account, credit card and loan statements, household bills, insurance premiums, etc. from the past 5 years. The lawyers felt that was a reasonable amount of time to go back and get a thorough understanding of the monthly outflow of funds and what the money was used for.

When I saw the amount of paperwork that was produced, I was astounded, because these were salaried employees.  They had documented income which didn’t vary from month to month. I had them do a budget and immediately saw that their expenses and their net income were approximately the same. In other words, after expenses, they had no money left over at the end of each month. This had been going on for years, which they both acknowledged.  Continue reading


Is Your Mediation Practice Narrow Focused or Big Picture?

Is Your Mediation Practice Narrow Focused or Big Picture? by Don Sinkov{3:45 minutes to read} I recently had lunch with an attorney, and she asked me what my mediation practice was like.  I explained that I use a holistic approach. I’m very concerned with how well the decisions the couple makes in mediation will work in the end. For example, will they have enough money to support themselves, have a reasonable lifestyle and be able to live up to the terms in their agreement.

I further explained that in divorce, no one “wins” using mediation or litigating in court. Really? Maybe that’s not exactly true. Since mediation is really about working together and sometimes agreeing to a compromise, no one can declare themselves the winner. In court, if you beat up the other guy badly enough, maybe you would consider that a “win.” I don’t.  Continue reading


Self-Determination by the Parties? Well Almost!

Self-Determination by the Parties?  Well Almost! by Don Sinkov[Time to Read: 2.1 mins]

The Mediator’s battle cry is usually,”Let the parties self-determine their outcome. Our job is not to interfere with what the husband and wife think is fair.” We are just supposed to sit back and let them come to agreement on their issues. Right?

I had this told to me by non-attorney and attorney mediators since I first started in mediation. “Let them decide on their own what they are going to do and how they are going to do it. Don’t interfere. Give them information but let them decide.”

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Oh, No! I’ve Turned into My Parents!

Oh, No!  I've Turned into My Parents!  by Don Sinkov [Time to Read: 2.9 mins]

I’m sure you’ve heard or maybe even spoken the expression, “We’ve turned into our parents,” or “I married somebody just like my father.” Initially we are surprised, but we quickly realize that we all tend to model our parents’ behavior.

Parents sometimes don’t realize that kids are watching and paying attention to what they do and say. As the kids grow, their parents’ behavior becomes ingrained, and they unconsciously start doing and saying things the way their parents did. I know I do. Sometimes we can recognize it. Sometimes we stop and say, “Wait a minute. What am I doing? Where have I seen this behavior before.” Other times it slips by you and goes unnoticed.

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Should Mediators Draft Legal Agreements?

[Time to Read: 2 mins]

Should Mediators Draft Legal Agreements? by Don Sinkov For years, I’ve heard that some non-attorney mediators write their own settlement agreements. When I first started a mediation practice, my partner was an attorney, and we’d mediate together. Although I would write certain parts of the settlement agreement, she often modified the language and always reviewed the agreement before it was sent to the clients.

As the years went on I became a sole practitioner, writing memorandums.  My memorandums would then go to an attorney and the attorney would write the legal agreements.

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Ethnic Diversity in Divorce Mediation

 Ethnic Diversity in Divorce Mediation by Don Sinkov  The recent events regarding the Michael Brown shooting and protests in Missouri prompted me to think about how different cultural groups interact and the lack of ethnic diversity in the mediation profession. It also made me think about:

  • What role does ethnic diversity play in my life?
  • What have my experiences been?

At one point in my life, I was an employee of a large company, whose president was an African American. I saw first hand how non-African American employees were discriminated against and not promoted while less qualified African American employees, with little experience, were promoted.

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It’s Not What You Don’t Know, It’s What You Don’t Know You Don’t Know. – D. Rumsfeld

It's Not What You Don't Know, It's What You Don't Know You Don't Know. - D. Rumsfeld by Don Sinkov  Was Donald Rumsfeld actually right? Maybe . . .

A couple came to my office. The wife is an executive for a Fortune 500 company. She makes a big 6 figure salary with tons of perks. She has the use of villas around the country, internationally; stock options; bonuses; all the goodies.

I said, “We’ll plan a mediation session to discuss your settlement.

They say, “No, we’ve already worked this out.

I said “Really?

Yes, absolutely. As a matter of fact, we don’t want you to change a single thing. We have a spreadsheet, and we have drafted a preliminary agreement. We want you to just write what we’ve decided.

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Want to Be a Better Mediator? Here Is How

Don Sinkov of discusses the high burnout rate among professionals.The other night I had a late mediation. It was 9:00 p.m. I was tired and leaving the office. When I passed the adjacent office, I noticed there was a matrimonial lawyer still working.

I said, “Wow! It’s late. This must be really unusual for you.”

He said, “No, not at all. As a matter of fact, I work most nights until past 9:00 just to keep up with the work.”

I asked, “Does it ever get to you? Because those are really long hours.”

He said, “Yeah, but, you know, what are we going to do? It’s the nature of the business.”

Many of my friends who are matrimonial lawyers tell me there is a high burnout rate among professionals working with divorcing couples due to several factors: Continue reading


My Sign Says Don Sinkov, Mediator, Not Merlin the Magician

Don Sinkov of discusses why mediation should be your first choice, not your last.“The lawyers want more money. We’re broke. Let’s try mediation!” News Flash!! Mediation should be your first choice, not your last!

After being in litigation for 1, 2, 3 or more years, the couple is firmly rooted in their bargaining positions, encouraged by the litigation attorneys. And the attorneys have pounded into their heads how important it is to get exactly what they want with no compromise whatsoever, and if they don’t get what they want, they should walk away from the table and go back to court.

When I get these cases, I have to be honest with them.

“This is going to be very difficult. Mediation works beautifully when you first come to a mediator before all the involvement in litigation takes place. The mediator will go over everything with you, discuss the options, and how you both might compromise – – not in everything, but in certain areas, so you can create an agreement you both can live with.”

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Don Sinkov, Accredited Divorce Mediator, provides Divorce Mediation, and Legal Separation Agreements in the following areas of WESTCHESTER COUNTY New York - Ardsley NY 10502, Armonk NY 10504, Bedford NY 10507, Bedford Corners NY 10507, Bedford Village NY 10506, Briarcliff Manor NY 10510, Bronxville NY 10708, Buchanan NY 10511, Chappaqua NY 10514, Crompond NY 10517, Croton Falls NY 10519, Croton-on-Hudson NY 10520, 10521, Crugers NY 10521, Dobbs Ferry NY 10522, Eastchester NY 10707, 10709, Elmsford NY 10523, Fairview NY, Golden’s Bridge NY 10526, Greenville, Harrison NY 10528, Hartsdale NY 10530, Hastings-on-Hudson NY 10706, Hawthorne NY 10532, Heritage Hills, Irvington NY 10533, Jefferson Valley-Yorktown NY 10535, Lake Mohegan NY 10547, Larchmont NY 10538, Lincolndale NY 10540, Mamaroneck NY 10543, Mount Kisco NY 10549, Mount Vernon NY 10550,10551,10552,10553, New Rochelle NY 10801, 10802, 10803, 10804, 10805, Ossining NY 10562, Peekskill NY 10566, Pelham NY 10803, Pelham Manor NY 10803, Pleasantville NY 10570, 10571, 10572, Port Chester NY 10573, Rye NY 10580, Rye Brook NY 10573, Scarsdale NY 10583, Scotts Corners NY 10576, Shennorock NY 10587, Shrub Oak NY 10588, Sleepy Hollow NY 10591, Tarrytown NY 10591, Thornwood NY 10594, Tuckahoe NY 10707, Valhalla NY 10595, Verplanck NY 10596, White Plains NY 10601, 10602, 10603, 10604, 10606, 10607, 10610, Yonkers NY 10701, 10702, 10703, 10704, 10705, 10706, 10707, 10708, 10709, 10710, Yorktown Heights NY 10598. by Don Sinkov, Accredited Divorce and Family Mediator, Divorce Mediation, Legal Separation, and child custody mediation, proudly serves the following towns in Upstate New York - PUTNAM COUNTY New York - Adams Corners NY 10579, Brewster NY 10509, Carmel NY 10512, Cold Spring NY 10516, Crofts Corners NY 10579, Garrison NY 10524, Kent Lakes NY 10512, Lake Carmel NY 10512, Lake Lincolndale NY 10541, Lake Mahopac NY 10541, Lake Peekskill NY 10537, Lake Secor NY 10541, Mahopac NY 10541, Mahopac Falls NY 10542, Manitou NY 10524, Nelsonville NY 10516, North Highland NY 10516, Oscawana Lake NY 10579, Patterson NY 12563, Philipstown NY 10516, Putnam Valley NY 10579, Sears Corners NY 10509, Southeast NY 10509, Tompkins Corners NY 10579.