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Boy, Am I Happy I’m Getting the House!

{3:54 minutes to read} A divorcing couple has decided how they are going to divide their assets. They really don’t need a mediator to mediate the terms because they have already decided, without knowing family law. Or how a judge might decide their case. Or what factors they need to consider. They have been thinking about their settlement for a while and like what they have. The husband and wife don’t really want to hear what I have to say. Although they’ve hired me as a mediator, they don’t want me to mediate. They just want me to write out the deal they have. […]

If You Can’t Bargain for Yourself, Maybe Mediation Isn’t for You!

{3:48 minutes to read} One of the elements of a successful mediation is the client’s ability to bargain in their own self interest. Often, I have one spouse who is more concerned about what is going to happen to their soon-to-be ex-spouse than they are about themselves. When I see that, I say, “Listen, your spouse is concerned about him or herself, and you’re concerned about them also, so there are two people concerned about them but who is expressing concern for you. For this mediation to be successful, you have to speak up for yourself and play a part in constructing what you both believe is a fair settlement.” […]

If I Get Divorced, I Get to Keep the Dog, Right?

{3:00 minutes to read} Pets play a very important role in our lives. In my life I have a dog. I don’t own a dog, I have a dog and the dog has me. No one really owns a living creature. We live with them and have a relationship with them, and that relationship is very special to us. To pet owners, pets are like children and we grow very attached to them. With a divorcing couple, it is not that unusual to create an agreement where both parties have visitation rights with their pets. It’s good for the divorcing couple and good for their pets. After all, we are divorcing the other spouse; we are not divorcing our pets. Non pet owners may have difficulty understanding the importance of not interrupting the everyday contact with your beloved pet. It matters little if the pet is: a cat, a dog, a parrot, a gerbil, a hamster, or even a horse. Pet owners who have had a long relationship with their pets do not want that relationship interrupted by the divorce. […]

Do Grandparents Have Rights in New York?

{2:18 minutes to read} The short answer is, “Yes. Grandparents have visitation rights in New York.” Every divorce agreement that I’ve seen specifically spells out that grandparents in New York have the right to see their grandchildren, and those rights won’t be denied. So that sounds great, and very legal, but how does that really work? Even though the parents are getting divorced, it’s important for kids to maintain relationships with parents, grandparents, and extended family. Settlement Agreements will often contain language about grandparents and extended family being able to see the children even after the death of one of the parents. Maintaining family relationships in the children’s lives is important. Extended family usually includes grandparents, uncles, aunts, etc; however, grandparents have a legal right to see their grandchildren. […]

Are You Ever Too Old to Get Divorced?

{2:42 minutes to read} A couple from Eastern Europe had been married about 65 years. This was their second marriage. They had a bunch of kids who were now in their 60s, and mom and dad decided it was time to get divorced. They had been unhappy for the last 25 years. Their attorney called me and said that he knew this was a little unusual because of their age, but he had spoken to both of them and they really needed to get it done. He said, “I was wondering who makes a career out of doing unusual mediations, and I thought of you.” […]

An Advisory Schedule for Spousal Support: What Does That Mean?

{2:00 minutes to read} For years, divorce professionals, attorneys, mediators, judges and lawyers have all been asking for spousal maintenance (formerly called alimony) guidelines. Cases which had the same facts were getting different alimony awards from different judges. In some cases very, very different: Disturbingly different. After the Miller Commission conducted hearings, the law revision committee spent 5 years trying to arrive at a formula of spousal maintenance, while special interest groups exerted their influence. Toward the end, Judge Sunshine and Eric Tepper, whom we all admire, were involved in the final phase of review. […]

Can We Share Future Earnings After the Divorce?

{2:42 minutes to read} During a recent mediation, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the husband and wife were smiling and seemed totally at ease. The husband was a hedge fund manager, and being a risk taker, he had started several hedge funds, then gone bankrupt. Currently, he is operating a very successful hedge fund with a very promising future. His wife, who is a successful doctor, had supported him not only financially through a series of ups and downs, but emotionally. Fast-forward 20 years later, and they are now getting divorced. They’ve both experienced some lean years, but now things have turned around. He is making a lot of money, and the prospects for making even more money in the next few years are excellent, so the couple wanted to make an agreement that would address the husband’s future earnings. […]

Dividing the Marital Assets in Half—Part 2

{3:42 minutes to read} There was a big response to my last blog, I’ll Divide the Marital Assets in Half as Long as My Half Is Bigger, mostly from attorneys. They said horrible things like: “You don’t know what you’re talking about. We don’t always divide the assets in half. Where did you get that idea?” I said, “Okay, so if I’m wrong, tell me why I’m wrong or what you do differently.” “We don’t always divide the assets in half. We add up all the assets and then try to figure out what the value was at the date of the marriage, and the end of the financial interest is the date of commencement.” […]

Thank God for Collaborative Lawyers!

{2:48 minutes to read} Collaborative law has been around since the 90s. It was initially marketed as something like mediation, but often clients call me and say they have been to collaborative lawyers; you know, mediators who are lawyers. That is totally wrong. The other day I had lunch with a principal in a law firm, and I said, “You practice family law, but I’m sure some of your clients would benefit from mediation. I’m thinking I could offer divorce mediation to your clients, and you and your law firm can do the legal paperwork and filings.” I further explained, “It would go like this: I’ll write a memorandum after the clients agree to terms. You write the Settlement Agreement and file the judgement in court.” […]

I Don’t Need It In Writing – – My Spouse Will Do the Right Thing

{2:36 minutes to read} How many times have I had clients come in where one spouse, usually the husband, has [...]