No Losers in Mediation or Collaborative Divorce

There are No Losers in MediationEvery February,  Americans are privileged to celebrate  the birthdays of two of our greatest presidents, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Both served during war, but undoubtedly each would have preferred a peaceful resolution to the problem of  his times.

Washington was a soldier who led many battles. Yet, he wrote to a friend, “Unhappy it is, though, to reflect that a brother’s sword has been sheathed in a brother’s breast, and the once happy plains of America are either to be drenched with blood or inhabited by slaves. Sad alternative.”

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What is a QDRO? Dividing Retirement Plans in Divorce

QDRO Dividing Retirement Plans in Divorce

Virtually all property that has been accumulated during the marriage (“marital property”) is subject to be divided between the divorcing husband and wife. Almost everything of value is considered property, including retirement plans and accounts.

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Telling Your Spouse

telling your spouse you want a separation or divorceThe decision to seek a divorce or separation is a very difficult one for most people. Most often, either the husband or the wife makes the decision to break the news to the other only after thinking about it for a long time.  The decision is accompanied by many negative emotions such as frustration, anger, despair or fear. The term I use for the person who first decides to separate or divorce is the ” initiator”. I call the other spouse the “non-initiator”.

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Selling The House: What About Capital Gains Taxes and Exclusions

Selling the House After DivorceThe term “Capital Gain” means the profit on an asset. If you own a house, that is an asset.  When selling a house, the profit is determined by subtracting the following, from the selling price:

  • Costs of Sale: i.e. brokers commission, attorneys fees, expenses to fix up for the sale;
  • Costs of major improvements such as adding new rooms, major  renoveation of a bathroom or kitchen, adding a deck, etc. It does not include repairs.
  • Cost of Purchase;
  • Original purchase price (or in certain cases adjusted basis from a previous rollover)

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Long Term Divorce

The Divorce ProcessThe 6 day trial lasted more than 5 months. The Family Part decision took more than 10 months more. The appeal was not argued until more than 16 months later. The Appellate Division opinion was not issued until more than 6 months later. Assuming the pre-trial period was only 12 months, this case lasted more than 4 years. “In this intensely contested matrimonial case…[the ] parties presented their respective positions in the course of a six-day trial that commenced on March 28, 2006, and ended August 16, 2006. Judge Cassidy addressed and disposed of all the issues raised by the parties in a memorandum of opinion dated June 29, 2007. After reviewing the record, and in light of prevailing legal standards, we affirm. “Marchev v. Marchev, March 16, 2009.”

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Lawyers Do Not Necessarily Know

Lawyers do not necessarily knowResearch has shown that lawyers routinely overestimate their chances of success in their cases, and the amount of experience they have had does not make much difference. A professor at the University Of California, Elizabeth Loftus, is co-author of a study which examined the accuracy of lawyers’ predictions. The researchers surveyed 481 lawyers in 44 states who handled cases expected to go to trial. They were asked to rate their confidence in achieving a stated minimal goal. The study found that the lawyers were less successful than their predictions in 44% of their cases.

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Things are seldom What They Seem

Things are not always what they seem in Divorce NegotiationsI have been a fan of Gilbert & Sullivan operaettas for many years. When I was young, I was even a member of an amateur Group that only performed Gilbert and Sullivan works. Although many of their lines are so far out of date that it is impossible to know what they refer to, many of their themes are universal and timeless. One of them, is a song in HMS Pinafore entitled “Things are Seldom What they Seem.”

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Divorce Mediation Conference – Parenting Plans

NYSCDMRecently I spent a weekend at the New York State Council on Divorce Mediation’s annual conference, which, as a member of the Board of Directors and Conference Committee, I helped to arrange. More than 150 mediators from all over the state attended to hear prominent experts on divorce related issues run workshops and lectures to improve our skills and keep current with the latest information that will help our clients get through the difficult Divorce Process as easily as possible.

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Different Mediation Strokes For Different Mediation Folks

In litigation a judge decidesEvery divorce and family mediator is dedicated to the principle known as “Self-Determination”. That means that couples should be the ones who make all decisions related to their separation or divorce issues, and not some outside third party such as a judge or a lawyer. The role of the mediator is to help the couples discuss the issues and reach agreements, if possible.

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Mediation is Coming to T.V.

USA Network, a major cable network, will be presenting a series about Mediation. “Facing Kate”, starring Kate Shahi, centers on a top litigator who becomes frustrated with the injustices that she sees in the Legal System, and decides to become a mediator.

“…with traditional lawyers, it’s always one wins, one loses; in mediation, the goal is to have win-win…”

The series, which is currently scheduled to start with a 90 minute pilot followed by eleven episodes, is expected to air this Summer or early Fall

Be Well,

Mike Stokamer,

Separation & Divorce Mediator & Collaborative Attorney