Don Sinkov

Why Is a Divorce Mediator like a Car Mechanic?

Your Divorce Mediator, Don Sinkov explains how a divorce mediator and a car mechanic know how to uncover the underlying issues of a problem to solve all the symptoms.A car mechanic:

  • Has all the right tools;
  • Has been trained;
  • Keeps up with the latest changes and software for their computerized equipment;
  • Has an organized workshop; and
  • Has learned how to speak to customers in a way that conveys professionalism, and thus the customer feels like, “Wow, I’m in the right place, and this mechanic really knows what they’re doing. He/she is going to get the job done for me, and I’m going to live happily ever after.”

That’s what makes for a successful mechanic, right?

No, not exactly. Continue reading


What Lawyers Don’t Know

Don Sinkov of shares some comments he's received from lawyers who do not understand the mediation process.This blog is about some attorney responses to my blogs, which have been so bizarre, I had to write about them.

I shouldn’t fault attorneys that don’t understand mediation. When they attended law school, they weren’t taught about mediation or alternative dispute resolution. Attorneys are trained in dispute resolution now, and I have been invited and have spoken at several law schools on the topic of mediation.

Law schools trained lawyers to do what lawyers do: Argue, get evidence that help them argue and then argue some more. Just the opposite of mediation, right? That is why our professions are so different.

As a mediator, I try to help couples resolve their disputes by cooperating and working together.

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The One Regret

Your Divorce Mediator, Don Sinkov, urges parents to spend time with their families.My doctor is 70 years old and has a very successful and financially lucrative practice. The last time I spoke with him, he said, “I have a question for you. I know what kind of work you do and that you deal with people’s problems.” He continued, “I have something on my mind that I want to ask you.”

I said tell me more. He explained that, despite his successful career, he had one major regret. “My one regret is that I didn’t spend more time with my children while they were growing up. Instead I put all my time and energy into my career. I missed their childhood. Now that they are older, I don’t have a very good relationship with them because I really never spent a lot of time with them.” 

I understand that with any working parent, there is always a push-pull; that trade-off between earning a living and managing time so that you don’t miss your kids growing up. You’re trying to be there for them and build this incredible relationship, while still investing in your job and building your career.  Continue reading


How Much Should a Mediator Charge?

Don Sinkov of explains how mediators charge their clients and that they're paying for years of experience.As the years go on, I have developed a better understanding of why some mediators ask for retainers, and why others also charge for phone calls and emails.

Usually, I only ask for retainers when there is a lot of work to do by phone. In situations where it is counter-productive for the husband and wife to be in the same room together, speaking to them separately by phone is a necessity, including calls to their attorneys, in order to move things along.

I once had a case where I told the client, “I don’t usually charge for emails and phone calls.” The client started emailing me regularly. By the end of the month, I had received 83 emails, and had a better understanding of why some mediators charge for emails and phone calls.

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How Not to Mediate!

Don Sinkov of talks about his first experience mediating which illustrates how not to.When I was first trained as a mediator through an internship at NYU, I was sent to a government agency to see how they resolve disputes. I worked with the head of the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Department. He was going to show me how he resolved disputes, using mediation. He planned to introduce me as his co-mediator, however, he also made it clear that he was pretty much going to be driving the bus. He said, “I’m going to show you how we do things around here.”

Two women came in the room. One woman was bringing charges of harassment against the other. She was really aggressive, loud and banging her fist on the table. She threatened to start a lawsuit and go after monetary damages. The other woman started yelling, too, and pretty soon we had pandemonium. It was hard to keep control and calm them down, so my trainer put them in separate rooms. Continue reading


The Kid’s Living at College. Why Do I Have to Pay for Housing at Home?

Don Sinkov of explains how child support payments get complicated when a child is living at a college dorm.A dollar-for-dollar credit against your child support obligation for room and board at college – we have all heard about it and understand it’s done pretty much all the time. But is it fair?

When addressing basic child support (food, clothing and shelter), mandatory add-ons, and discretionary expenses in the Settlement Agreement, we say, “While there is no statute directing you to pay for your child’s college education, something like a SUNY clause, capping your contribution to education at a State University of New York tuition rate, is an obligation most parents and courts are comfortable with.”

“So if I’m paying for room and board at college, why should I pay for room and board at home? Isn’t that paying twice for the same thing?”

Generally, most attorneys will say, “Double shelter allowance. My client should get a reduction in child support for their share of room and board expense at college. Why should my client have to pay room and board at the home where the child is not living when they are living at college?”

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Happy Chinese New Year!

Don Sinkov of shares his teaching of Chinese philosophy in time for the Chinese New Year.As we approach the Chinese New Year, I thought it would be timely to share a bit of philosophy with you all. As someone who has been involved with studying martial arts, Buddhism, Tao Te Ching and Confucius philosophy, I have attended many lectures. One lecture I particularly remember was a teacher explaining a passage of the I Ching (inevitability of change, yin and yang, fortune telling). He said the following regarding the difference between pride and modesty:

The I Ching teaches that pride is like a mountain. It’s high, solid and imposing and doesn’t let anything in. It does not allow the acceptance of others and their points of view. It will not let all possibilities exist for it does not accept opposite points of view.

Do not rush to judgment. Do not be like the mountain.

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Got Buyer’s Remorse?

Don Sinkov of explains why business valuations are so important.How often have I heard, “I have a business but I don’t want to spend the money to get it valued. It’s way too expensive. I’ve heard it costs $20-30,000.” During the settlement negotiations, when one spouse has a business or the spouses are partners in the business, it is very important to get the business valued. We need this to determine:

  • What each other’s interests are in the business
  • What is the marital interest to the non-titled spouse (the person that is married to the business owner)

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Prepaid Child Support – Is it a Myth?

Don Sinkov of explains the option of prepaid child support.A few times a year, the question of prepaid child support comes up. Though not that common, it is not so uncommon that it doesn’t need to be addressed at some point.

There are any number of reasons why prepaid child support makes sense, including:

  • You have a certain amount of cash now and are concerned about preserving it for your children.
  • You may be traveling around the world and want to guarantee regular payments.
  • You may be entering into new relationships and don’t want future circumstances to affect child support.
  • You are unemployed, but want to maintain the standard of living established during the marriage.
  • You want the peace of mind knowing your child support obligation is paid for in advance, so you can take investment risks.

You have money now. Maybe you are selling a big asset like your home, or you have set aside money in either retirement plans or a trust and want to use it to prepay child support. It’s kind of an interesting proposition, so can you do it?

Continue reading


What Do You Mean “Keep My Day Job”? I Want to be a Mediator!

Don Sinkov of provides some encouragement for fellow mediators.After negotiating labor contracts, representing a trade union, and arbitration, I decided that maybe divorce mediation was the way for me to go. I was very excited about mediation. I took lots of training, but with no experience, I was looking for words of encouragement. New mediators get very excited about their new career and are looking for people in the business to inspire them, and to say, “Yes, we can!” Remember that?

I had taken a law training at NYU and called one of my law professors who was involved in dispute resolution. I said, “I just have to ask you something. I am very excited about being a new mediator and specializing in divorces. What can you tell me that will kind of put me on the right track?” Her response: “Keep your day job.” I was really taken aback by this. “What do you mean ‘Keep my day job’? I want to be a mediator, make a career of mediation.” She said, “There’s no money in mediation, forget about it. Go find something else to do.“

Continue reading



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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.