Separation Agreements

The Freedom to Factor in Mediation

The Freedom to Factor in Mediation by Sandy Balick

{3:12 minutes to read} In concluding this series on Equitable Distribution in mediation, I want to circle back to a topic introduced in my first installment: That equitable distribution is not necessarily equal distribution. This being the case, how are parties to divide their assets and liabilities in the process of winding up their marital estates?

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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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Business Valuation in the Mediation Process

Business Valuation in the Mediation Process by Sandy Balick

{3:36 minutes to read} This is a second installment on the subject of business valuation to assist divorcing spouses in the property settlement process.

It’s common for divorcing spouses to engage in asset trading (a court-ordered distributive award is essentially such a tradeoff). To be a good trader a spouse should be equipped with a reasonably informed idea of an asset’s value.

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Equitable Distribution and Business Interests

Equitable Distribution and Business Interests by Sandy Balick

{3:30 minutes to read} More on New York’s approach to equitable distribution of marital assets—this time pertaining to business interests.

Assuming a business, including a professional practice, is established in the course of a marriage, it is likely a marital asset subject to equitable distribution. The division of these business interests may be the subject of distributive awards—payments or distribution of some other value in lieu of actual equity in the business under consideration.

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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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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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Time to the Finish Line

Divorce and business mediator, Sandy Balick, of Consensus Point Mediation LLC discusses the final steps of the divorce mediation process.“What’s involved in going from mediation to a final divorce and how long will this take?”

These are common questions from couples who are considering mediation of their divorces.

The outcome of the mediation – many decisions large and small, regarding such things as:

  • Parental visiting schedules (parenting)
  • Child support
  • Maintenance (formerly, alimony)
  • Asset division, etc.

– must be folded, preferably by an attorney, into a Settlement Agreement.

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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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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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