Parenting Plans

Addressing the Best Interests of the Child in the Mediation Process

Addressing the Best Interests of the Child in the Mediation Process By Sanford E. Balick, Esq.{5:30 minutes to read} As discussed in my last two blogs, when devising solutions to parenting issues like custody and visitation, courts are guided by a variety of considerations, all under the heading of “best interests of the child.”

The courts approach the best-interests analysis seriously and struggle to do the right thing in a given situation. Yet, in reality, the child is a stranger to the court. A child’s personality must be conveyed through parental testimony and/or through the child’s own attorney. Divorcing spouses may have a limited ability to shape the ultimate parenting plan if the dispute resolution is left to the court’s efforts.

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Courts, Parents and the Kids’ Best Interests

 Courts, Parents and the Kids’ Best Interests by Sandy Balick{2:48 minutes to read} As a family mediator, I’m naturally inclined towards the mediation process, in the strong belief that it offers a much better forum in which to thrash out issues, both large and small, than the courtroom. This is especially the case, I believe, when it comes to finances and the equally combustible issue of child custody (we prefer the reference “parenting” to “custody” given the latter’s grim institutional implications), which is the focus of this article, the first in a series of 3 posts.

In the case of children, it’s all about their “best interests,” the touchstone phrase that affords courts very wide latitude in crafting parenting orders. The statute (Domestic Relations Law § 70 (a)) does not recognize automatic custodial right in one parent or the other. In the very denatured style of statutory law, it states: In all cases there shall be no prima facie right to the custody of the child in either parent, but the court shall determine solely what is in the best interest of the child, and what will best promote its welfare and happiness, and make award accordingly. Just what these interests are is amplified through statutory language and the prose of countless court decisions. 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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Voluntary Parenting

Mediator Sandy Balick of Consensus Point Mediation LLC discusses leaving a marital legacy by creating a child–focused and future–oriented voluntary agreement.Last Sunday’s New York Times carried an article on the importance of voluntary parenting (custody) agreements between parents (whether unmarried or not). Reporting on his 2001 study of child custody conflicts, University of Virginia Prof. Robert E. Emery, comparing litigation and mediation, “found that six hours of mediation caused huge improvements in family relationships a full 12 years later.” This is a perfect example of what I referred to in my last blog as a positive marital legacy – a voluntary agreement that is child–focused and future–oriented.

In a ringing endorsement of the mediation process (and its variants, collaborative mediation and the use of parenting coordinators in a less formal mediation setting) Emery emphasized that: “(w)e must make these our primary methods (of child custody dispute resolution), not alternatives (to litigation).”

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Is Timing Everything? Part 1

Sandy Balick of Consensus Point Mediation LLC and www.consensuspointmediation.com discusses how mediation may be a powerful tool in assisting the parties to evaluate things, even if the timing seems less than ideal.The phrase, “timing’s everything“ is what we used to call a commonplace – defined by my ancient Merriam-Webster New Collegiate, 2ed., 1959 (I remain fiercely loyal to my first serious dictionary) as “(a)nything common, ordinary or trite.”  Shopworn though the phrase may be, it rings true for all of us. Sometimes it’s a rueful regret over a missed opportunity – sometimes it’s expressed in a celebratory mode as in having sold your Facebook shares before the great swoon.

Is there an ideal time to initiate mediation? Continue reading

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Divorce Mediation Video

You are cordially invited to view my new video about divorce mediation and the other services provided by Consensus Point Mediation. It’s brief and intended to give you a feel for what services Consensus Point can offer, the mediation process itself, and some information about my background as a mediator.

Consensus Point Mediation Video Introduction

 

Thanks for taking the time to watch. I would really appreciate your feedback on this video. You can easily do that by putting a comment in the “Leave a Reply” area below.

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

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

 

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Parenting Plans – The Kids Come First

Parenting Plans - Kids Come First - When Mediating a Divorce

Mark Twain once noted that it is on one’s lifetime experiences,

“that we get our education of life. We string them into jewels or into tinware as we may choose.”

For those of us in the slow lane, we frequently benefit from the observations of Twain and others in acquiring wisdom.

A recent article by New York Times health columnist Jane Brody highlights just such a source of wisdom. Her January 10, 2012 item focused on a study of the experiences of 1000 older Americans whose opinions and advice have been combed into a new book entitled 30 Lessons for Living now available from Hudson Press. It covers a lot of territory but several things stood out, one of which was the issue of parenting.

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