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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Building a Lasting Relationship: Not Just Another Algorithm

Building a Lasting Relationship: Not Just Another Algorithm by Sandy Balick{4:24 minutes to read} Matrimonial mediators and lawyers look on in wonder at the financial wreckage that so often forms the final exclamation point of a marriage. One wonders whether in an age of so-called “predictive analytics” there isn’t some sort of litmus test to help couples understand their prospects as long-term marriage partners.

Well, wonder no more, because such a thing actually may exist.

A recent post in Marketwatch highlights a joint study by The Federal Reserve Board, the Brookings Institution and UCLA, which concludes that credit scores may be highly predictive of the possibility of divorce.

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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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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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Best Interests of the Children, Part 2

Best Interests of the Children, Part 2 By Sandy Balick{4:00 minutes to read} This is the 2nd of 3 posts on the “best interests of the child” standard by which courts address child visitation and other parenting issues.

In Part 2, we’ll touch briefly on what’s involved when the courts, in their traditional role as part of the custody determination process, are called upon as arbiters of the children’s “best interests.” These interests comprise a list of considerations evolved by the family and matrimonial courts over the years as reflected in their reported decisions. Continue reading


How Does Family Mediation Work?

How Does Family Mediation Work? by Sandy Balick{4:30 minutes to read} Family mediation is a process used to facilitate the resolution of problems and challenges faced by families. Frequently, but certainly not exclusively, these issues involve care decisions for a parent or other loved one and the financial concerns associated with such decisions. These financial issues may be limited to how to pay for assisted or other living arrangements.

Additional financial concerns may surround what is to be done with a family business or assets for which no firm succession plan is in place. Often, health concerns are tied to the business issues in some way or another. The main point is that there are shared concerns but no consensus on how to proceed.

These seemingly complicated issues and the passionate feelings raised by them are ideal subjects for the mediation process. Mediation enables family stakeholders to share issues and concerns and to consider them in a manner that leads to solutions. It’s not magic, and it requires hard work, but at the same time, the parties enjoy a level of control over the process that is superior to that afforded by the courtroom, at a fraction of the cost and time involved in litigation. Continue reading


Major Changes to New York’s Maintenance Law in the Mediation Context – Part 3

{Major Changes to New York’s Maintenance Law in the Mediation Context - Part 3 By Sandy Balick3:36 minutes to read} This is the third installment on the recently passed amendments to New York’s maintenance (alimony) law, addressing some of its implications for couples in mediation.

The prior installment introduced the new formulas for calculating post-divorce maintenance. One applied where child support will be paid and the other for situations where this is not relevant. These formulas will be helpful in providing some objective notion of the role maintenance may play in negotiations over the disposition of assets and liabilities, etc.

Two cautionary notes are important:

  1. Although the maintenance obligation is designed for easy online calculation, it’s still wise to review this law and its implications for your specific situation with your personal lawyer. Continue reading


Considering Major Maintenance Law Changes in the Mediation Context – Part 2

Considering Major Maintenance Law Changes in the Mediation Context - Part 2 By Sanford E. Balick{4:36 minutes to read} As anticipated in my last blog, on September 25, 2015, Governor Cuomo signed the spousal maintenance (née alimony) amendments. Changes to Temporary Maintenance calculations will be effective on October 25, 2015, while the balance of the bill’s provisions will become effective on January 23, 2016.

The legislative goal of promoting fairness through greater consistency in the amounts and duration of maintenance awards prompted these changes. The substantially amended law will continue to classify and calculate maintenance in two categories:

  • Temporary Maintenance (for the period between the filing of an action and final judgment); and

  • Post-Divorce (from the judgment date forward). Continue reading


Changes Ahead for New York’s Maintenance Law

Changes Ahead for New York's Maintenance Law By Sandy Balick{3:06 minutes to read} Maintenance, formerly referred to as alimony, can be an emotional and confusing topic for the uninitiated. The expected signing of a new law amending New York’s maintenance statute offers the prospect of improved clarity and predictability in the law.

It’s anticipated that these changes may become effective in the fall with full application in the course of 2016. Those contemplating separation or divorce will want to be aware of the most significant aspect of these changes.

A legal consult with a matrimonial attorney is the best way for you to learn whether and to what extent maintenance may play a role in a particular divorce. Attorneys are guided by some combination of the statutes and by the significant body of New York case law addressing maintenance claims. This body of law has been criticized as resulting in inconsistent and sometimes unfair maintenance awards. The law’s changes are intended to diminish these concerns. Continue reading