A Matter of Refinement

Sandy Balick Consensus Point Mediation

As I’ve previously noted, the budget preparation done in the early stages of Divorce Mediation is an important exercise for making the final financial decisions. I’ve likened the process to the manner in which steel plates are formed by successive passes through a steel rolling mill and how, through this steady back-and-forth, the desired dimensions of the plate are achieved. The budget process is a multi-pass exercise as well, with each pass further refining the budget, bringing it closer to being an important financial map for the soon-to-be individual spouses. In the course of the mediation, the couple’s budget will move from being an incomplete picture to being a much more precise planning document.

Often, after a first pass at filling in the line items on the sheets provided by the Mediator, some entries are left blank or only fuzzy estimates for an entire category of expenses are entered. Take, for example, the section of the budget worksheets devoted to Recreational/Entertainment expenses which contains 12 different line items.

In filling out this section, there’s the inevitable temptation to make a general estimate, rather than doing the math for each applicable line item (e.g., 1. Eating out, 4. Spectator sports, 5. Weekend vacations, Family events, etc., 10. Club/Gym memberships). While estimates may be in the ”ballpark,” couples with many expenses, stretched incomes and/or a lot of debt, need a much more precise idea of how their income and expenses will match as they prepare to set up households apart from one another.

Even small differences between general estimates and actual expenditures may, when added together, produce large differences. Being off, for instance, in only one category by say $33.00 a month yields a savings (or an additional claim on funds) in the amount of $396 over the course of a year. This is not an insignificant sum, and could well be used for relief elsewhere in the new budget (or cause equivalent spending reductions elsewhere).

Where children are present in the marriage, many couples find it useful to separate expenses into those for the benefit of the entire household (e.g., rent) versus those which are for the care of the children. Many of these expenses are irregular or periodic in nature as opposed to expenditures that are a fixed amount each month. By doing this the spouses are able to refine their budget into a very accurate picture of the expenses they will face in the months and years ahead. Done correctly, it will also prove to be a valuable exercise for decisions that will be made in the course of the Mediation regarding child support.

Consensus Point MediationFinally, it’s important to take into account “one time only” expenses which may not show up as a part of the regular budgetary picture, such as moving to a new residence (or residences depending on the decisions made) as a consequence of the divorce. These expenditures may include moving expenses, broker fees for rental housing, decorating (painting, drapes, blinds, etc.). There may also be car rental, temporary storage facility use, and the expense of obtaining a new drivers license, utility deposits, etc.

Taking an unwieldy financial picture and refining it into a more compact and understandable document, will go a long way toward making the transition from one household to two, a reality for both you and your children.

We would be pleased to schedule a consultation with you and your spouse to explore the divorce mediation process and to answer your questions about it. There is no fee or commitment for this consultation. We invite you to call us at (646) 340-3434 to schedule an appointment.

Feel free to ask any questions, to comment, or to request more information in the Comments Box below. Also, please feel free to forward this blog to anyone you know who might be interested in its topic.

Sanford (Sandy) Balick, Attorney & Mediator in New York Sandy Balick signature
Sanford E. Balick, Esq.
Founder & Principal Mediator
Consensus Point Mediation, LLC.

Phone: (646) 340-3434
Email: ConsensusPointLLC@gmail.com


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One Response to A Matter of Refinement

  • jCH says:


    I was impressed by your two articles on “budgeting” the separation/divorce process. Great information! I also reviewed your website – its a wonderful introduction to your firm, your background and your services.

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