Marital Mediation

Mediation: When “Lawyering Up” May Result in “Lawyering Down”

Mediation: When “Lawyering Up” May Result in “Lawyering Down” by Sandy Balick

{5:24 minutes to read} Noting that, especially recently, even lawyers have been “lawyering up” (at least in our nation’s capital), Wall Street Journal columnist Ben Zimmer (June 24, 2017) set out to trace the origins of the phrase.

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The Importance of Dates & Fluctuations in Divorce

The Importance of Dates & Fluctuations in Divorce by Sandy Balick

{4:42 minutes to read} Mediation empowers divorcing spouses to define their own standards of fairness and helps them to make maximum use of the considerable freedom New York law allows in shaping their own settlements.

This entry focuses on selection of appropriate valuation dates for financial accounts, including bank and retirement accounts.

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Not to Be Overlooked: Increased Value as an Asset in Divorce

Not to Be Overlooked: Increased Value as an Asset in Divorce by Sandy Balick

{2:42 minutes to read} The divorce process will focus on the distribution of a couple’s assets and liabilities, in a practice referred to as equitable distribution. In my last blog post, I noted the important distinction between separate (non-marital) and marital property.

One potential asset straddles the line between separate and marital, and this will be referred to here as “increased value.” In the divorce process, a non-titled spouse may claim a portion of the increased value of an otherwise separate asset. While the requirements for establishing such a claim are stringent, increased value may be too significant to be overlooked in the distribution process.

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Which May Be Most Equitable: A Court or Mediation Settlement? – Part 1

Which May Be Most Equitable: A Court or Mediation Settlement? - Part 1 by Sandy Balick

{3:24 minutes to read} In divorce, the fair and orderly division of the property owned by a couple unfolds under the banner of “equitable distribution.”

You are reading the first of several posts on equitable distribution. In coming installments, I’ll touch on a number of basic concepts on this subject and will contrast the court and mediation-based approaches to the manner in which assets and debts get divided upon termination of a marriage.

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What, Actually, Does the Mediator Do?

 What, Actually, Does the Mediator Do By Sanford E. Balick, Esq.{3:24 minutes to read} If you ever had an opportunity to be involved in the mediation of a business dispute, you were witness to a process where the mediator prods, cajoles, pushes and sometimes extracts an agreement from the combatants, frequently in the course of a single day.

Marital mediation, and the mediator’s role in it, is a vastly different process.

Here, the mediator plays a more restrained role in a weekly process that unfolds in 1 to 2 hour sessions until an overall agreement is achieved. The mediator is not a decider of the issues (that would be the role of an arbitrator) and the mediator doesn’t try to wrestle the parties into submission.  Continue reading

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Mediation: What It Is and Isn’t

Mediation: What It Is and Isn't By Sanford E. Balick, Esq.{3:00 minutes to read} Couples are attracted to marital mediation for several reasons:

  • It’s something more civil than being in court; and,

  • Mediation may be considerably less expensive than hiring attorney combatants.

Beyond this, couples have divergent notions of exactly what mediation is.  After all, unless someone’s had previous experience with it, they’d have little reason to know.

Mediation is often confused with arbitration, both of which are under the big tent referred to as ADR or Alternative Dispute Resolution.  Continue reading

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Thanks to the WSJ

 Thanks to the WSJ by Sanford E. Balick, Esq.{3:36 minutes to read} Divorce mediators generally don’t go in for billboards and loud media advertising – it is a quiet profession in this regard, so it’s good news when a national publication puts a spotlight on divorce mediation. Sometimes, however, things go a little bit awry.

Such was the case in The Wall Street Journal’s March 7 – 8, 2015’s weekend edition. Under the banner, “Five Ways to Get a Better Deal in Mediation,” it correctly noted,

“Divorcing spouses often turn to mediation as a way to resolve their differences. Hiring a mediator can save you thousands of dollars in legal fees…”  Continue reading

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Anatomy of a Settlement Agreement

Divorce and Business Mediator, Sandy Balick, of Consensus Point Mediation LLC, explains how mediation and the settlement agreement work.[Time to Read: 2.9 mins]  Most marital mediations are started with the view of obtaining an uncontested divorce as expeditiously as possible. The marital Settlement Agreement is the vital bridge between the mediation process and the filing for an uncontested divorce.

All the give-and-take agreements reached in mediation, to be enforceable, must be detailed in a Settlement Agreement. This will become the primary vehicle by which the court will satisfy itself that important issues regarding children (if any, in the marriage or relationship) and property issues are satisfactorily dealt with. It will remain the document to which former spouses refer in order to confirm important details in the years ahead.

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How Long Will It Be Going On?

Divorce and Business Mediator Sandy Balick discusses divorce mediation and the many factors that come into play when determining how long it will be before an agreement is met.One of the most asked questions by couples considering marital mediation is, “How long will it take?” While 3 months is a good working guideline for planning purposes, there are many variables that make hazarding a precise estimate tricky.

The number of issues to be resolved will naturally factor into the number of sessions required. Also important is how well particular couples are able to discuss issues, consider alternatives and come to the many small agreements that will ultimately culminate in a formal Settlement Agreement.

There are other variables to consider. The “standard model” calls for weekly sessions of 1 – 2 hours, although this is not dictated by any law. My own practice is to be flexible in terms of session length, although I have found that 2 hours tends to be a practical maximum. Again, no rule dictates that, for a prepared couple, a session could not be longer.

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Divorced But Leaving a Positive Parental Legacy

Sandy Balick of ConsensusPointMediation.com discusses the organization and patience it takes to parent successfully post-divorce.My friends all know that I suffer from a lifetime obsession – I am a train buff. My condition is not limited to model trains, and it includes the history of anything interesting having to do with trains. I see many of life’s issues filtered through a train-related perspective. Before you conclude that I‘ve lost my grip on reality, let me give a quick illustration.

Here in New York, we prize our Grand Central Terminal and mourn, even to this day, the passing of our other great terminus, Penn Station. An interesting thing about the Grand Central we know and love today is that it was erected even while the facility it replaced was being taken down – all without a suspension of operations. It was a remarkable accomplishment, and required going about things in a careful, orderly and planned way, over time.

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