Affordable divorce

The Most Affordable Divorce

Unbeknownst to many divorcing couples, it is possible to have a one-attorney no-court divorce, which is the most affordable divorce.

If done properly, such one-attorney divorces are also fair and reasonable, and enforceable.

Kitchen Table Divorce Utilizing a Neutral Mediator
A “kitchen table divorce,” or “Starbucks divorce,” happens when a couple negotiates their own settlement terms for divorce (over the kitchen table or at Starbucks) without any attorney involved, and then an attorney is retained to draft the separation agreement or marital settlement agreement.

In my opinion, the best way to do such a kitchen table divorce is for the couple, after their private negotiations, to go together and retain a divorce attorney to serve as a neutral mediator, who will then draft the settlement agreement. Each spouse is likely to trust the attorney if they meet and retain the attorney together, and then discuss with the attorney the agreed upon settlement terms.

When the attorney serves as a neutral mediator, he/she represents neither party, but rather remains neutral to facilitate a dialogue between the couple to help them finalize a settlement. The neutral mediator is in a position to share his/her thoughts about the settlement terms, so as to best meet the […]

Support Guidelines: New York Divorce Mediator’s Best Friend

Why are the New York maintenance (alimony) and child support guidelines of the State of New York a divorce mediator’s best friend?

The New York State legislature created the maintenance and child support guidelines in order to make the amounts of support more uniform throughout New York State. This is a very good thing for a divorcing couple, their children, and society.

Many of my divorce lawyer colleagues are critical of these support guidelines. At a cocktail party they might tell me that such guidelines result in simple minded calculations that are unjust or unfair to one or both parties. The real reason they are so critical is that the guidelines help reduce divorce litigation and attorneys’ fees.

Another very good thing about the support guidelines is that in order to make a binding maintenance and child support agreement in New York, the guidelines calculations must be set forth in the agreement. Then the parties agree to either follow the guidelines calculations, or deviate from them, and if so, state the reasons for such deviation. This makes the divorcing couple think twice about agreeing to such a deviation.

My goal as a New York divorce mediator or collaborative divorce lawyer is to help […]

New York Divorce: Choose Your Divorce Lawyer Carefully

Are you a New York State resident considering a divorce? Buyer beware! As mentioned in my last blog, if your divorce is not a genuine emergency, avoid the Charon-like* divorce lawyer who will unnecessarily subject you to the tortures of the damned at your great expense.

The good news is that there are other New York divorce lawyers who take a different approach. At the initial consultation, they will explain all of the divorce process choices including mediation and collaborative law.

Instead of unnecessarily rushing off to divorce court, these peacemakers will help you make an out of court divorce settlement consistent with your reasonable needs and interests, and those of your children and spouse. Not only will such a divorce settlement save you tons of money, it will also greatly increase your chances of having a good aftermath to your divorce, which could be a priceless benefit. Think about this: how important is it for your children to know their parents do not hate each other when they attend graduations, weddings and births of grandchildren in the decades to come? How important is this for you?

Besides settling your divorce, a mediator or collaborative […]

New York Divorce: Don’t Start by Filing in Court

In New York State, only divorces involving genuine emergencies should start by filing in Court.

In Greek mythology “Charon” is a mercenary ferryman who takes deceased souls across the river Styx through the gates of Hell. Charon also happens to be the larger of the two moons orbiting the planet Pluto. Being both a New York divorce lawyer and an astronomy buff, I have wondered: does my occupation make me similar to Charon? Indeed, many people will tell you that going through a divorce in the New York State court system is Hell.

That said, whether a divorce lawyer is Charon-incarnate hinges on how he or she practices their profession!

A Charon-like divorce lawyer will try to capitalize on the client’s matrimonial misfortune by unnecessarily and immediately filing the case in Court. This is done to justify payment of a five-figure retainer. Such a lawyer will say this filing in Court is how all divorces begin.

The truth is that only divorces involving genuine emergencies require immediate court intervention. Such emergencies include serious domestic violence or the threat of it, willful refusal to pay for the vital financial needs of a spouse or children, or some […]

Minimizing the Damages for the Primary Breadwinner in a New York Divorce

In most, but not all, divorces, one spouse is the primary breadwinner and earns most of the family income, and the other spouse is the primary care-giver of the children.

Assuming the spouse focusing on the children is doing a good job, that spouse has the right to receive substantial maintenance and child support when a New York divorce court applies the support guidelines formulas.

What can the New York divorce lawyer do for the primary breadwinner client?
1. Consider an out of court divorce settlement process such as divorce mediation or collaborative divorce if the facts warrant the use of such a settlement process. Such settlement processes are almost always substantially more economical than litigation and a trial, and are better for tailoring a settlement consistent with needs and interests.

2. If a substantial part of the primary breadwinner’s income is in the form of a variable annual bonus, then structure the support obligations as follows:
a. calculate the maintenance and child support based on the primary breadwinner’s salary; and
b. recommend that the primary breadwinner pay a percentage, not a fixed sum, of the variable annual bonus as supplemental maintenance. The specific percentage depends on the facts of the case.

3. Justify […]

Collaborative Divorce and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

On December 7, 2017, Pauline Tesler, Esq., a California lawyer who has been a pioneer in collaborative divorce practice, gave a presentation before the New York Association of Collaborative professionals entitled “The Art and Craft of Deep Peace.”
During that presentation, Pauline shared Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (“Maslow’s Pyramid”). In the context of a divorce, Maslow’s Pyramid breaks down the various needs that a spouse going through a divorce may have:

Maslow pyramid

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the base of Maslow’s Pyramid are basic needs. Basic needs include physiological needs (food, water, warmth, rest) and safety needs (security, safety). The “snake brain” is the part of the human brain hell-bent to satisfy those needs. When basic needs are threatened, they trump all other needs higher up on Maslow’s Pyramid. The snake brain is the most primitive part of the human brain. When something triggers the snake brain, the response is: fight, flight, or play dead, just like a snake. Nothing else matters. The snake brain has not a scintilla of compassion or empathy.

If someone is being deprived of such basic needs, there is an emergency and time is of the essence. Unless a potentially life-threatening situation […]

Westchester Collaborative Divorce Lawyer Goes to Trial

After 38 years as a divorce attorney in Westchester County, New York, I can state with absolute certainty that divorce court is toxic, sometimes comparable to descending into Dante’s “Inferno.” It was my hellish experience in divorce trials that drove me to explore collaborative divorce and mediation, and, ultimately, to become a settlement specialist. Most divorce cases can and should be done collaboratively or through mediation. Once in a while, though, a trial is necessary.

trainSuch was the case when a man crossed my threshold several months ago, having represented himself in preliminary divorce court proceedings. The trial “train had already left the station,” so to speak, and this man was going to have to face his wife’s attorney in court, with himself as his only legal representation. Three weeks before the trial, he realized that it would be wise for him to get his own attorney, and so he asked me to take on his case.

This man’s case looked like it would be relatively simple because it involved a short, five-year, childless marriage. So I agreed to take on the case.

I soon learned that both the husband and wife had a […]

A Westchester County, NY, Divorce: What You Need to Know

Westchester County, NY, has some unique policies and procedures for conducting a divorce through the court system. If your divorce will take place in Westchester County, it is important that you engage a divorce attorney familiar with the distinctive norms and practices in Westchester County divorce court. Moreover, avoiding the court system altogether may be advisable in your case, so consult with a Westchester divorce lawyer well-versed in non-court alternatives such as mediation and collaborative divorce.

family-law-329569_640WHAT’S UNIQUE IN A WESTCHESTER DIVORCE?
The first phase of a court-based divorce is called “discovery,” meaning the exchange of documents and information. If you are doing a divorce through the Westchester courts, during the discovery phase the spouses and their attorneys meet with a Court Attorney Referee (CAR). The CAR system – unique to Westchester – has been set up to keep track of discovery information and to lighten the workload of the judges, who are inundated with cases. In Westchester County it’s likely that you may never see a judge during the discovery phase. After the discovery phase is complete the divorce case is sent to a judge for a pre-trial conference and a trial.

Another […]

Collaborative Divorce: The Advantages

A highly regarded Collaborative Divorce lawyer in California, Pauline Tesler, has written the authoritative book on Collaborative Divorce: Collaborative Law, Achieving Effective Resolution in Divorce Without Litigation. The third edition of that book was published in 2016, and it includes a “Collaborative Divorce Handbook.” This handbook is a must read for anyone considering a collaborative divorce.  The information is relevant to a New York divorce, although Ms. Tesler practices in California.

The following is the first blog post in a series about the Collaborative Divorce Handbook.

For those considering either a collaborative divorce or a traditional adversarial divorce, Ms. Tesler points out eight advantages of Collaborative Law.
1. In Collaborative Law, all participate in an open, honest exchange of information. There is no “hide the ball.”
2. In Collaborative Law, neither party takes advantage of the miscalculations or mistakes of others, but instead identifies and corrects them.
3. In Collaborative Law, both parties insulate their children from the conflicts. They avoid the professional custody evaluation process, instead making use of specially trained coaches and a child-development specialist to arrive at solutions that both parties can accept, solutions that reflect the children’s needs and concerns.
4. Both parties in Collaborative Law use joint accountants, appraisers and other […]

Collaborative Divorce: New Ideas are Met with Resistance

Having been a divorce lawyer in Westchester County for almost 40 years, I have been baffled that more divorcing couples don’t choose collaborative divorce. I know about the divorcing process through the court system. It is impossible to overstate the emotional and financial toll that the litigation (court) process takes during a divorce.

When presented with a less painful, less expensive, less time-consuming, more private, and more-effective-in-the-long-term alternative, why would anyone choose to litigate their divorce?

I think I have stumbled upon the answer. I recently saw online this rejection letter that Einstein received when applying for a doctoral program in physics at the University of Bern.

New ideas are seldom welcomed by the "experts."

New ideas are seldom welcomed by the “experts.”

06 June, 1907
Dear Mr. Einstein,
Your application for the Doctorate has not been successful at this time and as such you are not eligible for the position of Associate Professor.

While you posed an interesting theory in your article published in “Annalen der Physik”, we feel that your conclusions about the nature of light and the fundamental connection between space and time are somewhat radical. Overall, we find your assumptions to be […]