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Is Divorce Mediation the Best Option for Divorce?

Divorce is a trying time for all involved. Divorce mediation helps to alleviate some of the emotional and financial turmoil with a goal of maintaining a future relationship between the parties. In the mediation process, the parties have more control over the process. The parties can explore and agree on creative alternatives to finalize the divorce process.

Some of the items discussed in divorce mediation include, among others:

  1. Parenting plan and custody arrangements
  2. Child support and add on expenses
  3. Maintenance
  4. Debts owed by the parties
  5. Assets of the parties
  6. Benefits (i.e. health, dental, vision, life insurance)
  7. Retirement accounts (i.e. 401k, 403b, IRAs, pensions)

In discussing parenting time and custody arrangements we seek to do what is in the best interest of the children. Generally, if the parties cannot agree on time spent with the children (before any discussion of money), then the mediation process will likely be unsuccessful.

The mediation process follows legal guidelines for distribution of assets and debts, as well as payments of maintenance and child support. However, it also takes into account the costs for the parties to maintain and support two households and both be able to continue to live the lives they are accustomed to.

For more information on divorce mediation, contact Sheree Donath at sheree@donathlaw.com or click here.

To see if you are a candidate for divorce mediation, click here.

To determine what topics will be discussed at mediation and what documents are helpful to gather for divorce mediation, click here to obtain a checklist.

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Divorce Update – Increase in Income Cap When Calculating Maintenance and Child Support Goes into Effect on March 1, 2022

Divorce Signpost Means Custody Split Assets And Lawyers

Effective March 1, 2022, there are new guidelines to follow:

Maintenance: The income cap is increasing from $192,000 to $203,000

Child Support: The combined parental income cap is increasing from $154,000 to $163,000

Self Support Reserve: is increasing from $17,388 to $18,346.50

Poverty Income Guideline Amount (per a single person): is increasing from $12,880 to $13,590

If you are considering divorce mediation, or have questions about how this pertains to you, or how maintenance and/or child support are calculated, or have a current agreement you are entering into or may have already signed, contact Sheree Donath to schedule a consultation.

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What is “No Fault” Divorce and Can a Mediator Help Me File for a “No Fault” Uncontested Divorce?

Two keys with splitted or broken key rings with pendant in shape of house divided in two parts on wooden background with copy space. Dividing house when divorce, division of property, real estate heri
New York recognizes No Fault Divorce. What that means is that in New York a couple does not have to show that the marriage is ending due to the fault of the other spouse. Rather, all that must be shown is that the marriage has “irretrievably broken” for at least six months. Filing for an uncontested divorce using a “no fault” ground makes the divorce process quicker and easier since neither party is required to prove wrongdoing of the other person. Parties filing for a no fault uncontested divorce must still come to terms on all open issues prior to filing for an uncontested divorce. Such items include, among others, distribution of property (assets and debts), payment of maintenance (previously referred to as alimony), payment of child support, payment of add on expenses, parenting plans.

Mediation is generally a good choice for those interested in filing for an uncontested divorce based on the no fault ground. Mediation offers creative options and streamlines the divorce process. For more information on your options and to determine if mediation is a good choice for you, click here.

To find out more about what information you may need to move forward with divorce mediation and an uncontested divorce and to help you prepare for your divorce mediation session, click here.  For a divorce mediation checklist, click here.

To contact Sheree Donath, Esq. to understand the mediation process, click here or reach out by email to sheree@donathlaw.com.

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Considering a Divorce? Answer these Questions to Determine if Mediation is an Option For You

divorce

There are many questions to consider before deciding to move forward with divorce mediation. Review the below non-exclusive list of questions to help you decide whether mediation is the right approach for you:

1.  Do you and your spouse both want to get the divorce?

2.  Are you and your spouse able to resolve your differences, including be in the same room and making joint decisions or compromising?

3.  Do you want to have control over the process?

4.  Are you interested in creative alternatives?

5.  Are you and your spouse interested in making the divorce process easier on yourself and your children?

6.  Are you and your spouse willing to put the needs of your children before your own needs?

7.  Are you and your spouse interested in resolving your divorce in a cost-effective manner?

8.  Are you and your spouse prepared to disclose all of your relevant financial data?

9.  Can you and your spouse come to agreement on issues?

10. Are you and your spouse willing to work together cooperatively to reach an agreement?

If you answered yes to the above questions, you may be a candidate for mediation.

1.  Are you a victim of domestic violence?

2.  Are there orders of protection against you or your spouse?

3.  Do you feel that your spouse will prevent you from speaking or over-power you?

4.  Are you afraid of your spouse?

5.  Are you looking for retribution?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, mediation is not the right approach for you.

For more information contact Sheree Donath at (516) 804-0274 or at sheree@donathlaw.com.

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Time for a Divorce? Divorce Mediation is the Best Choice. See why it is Successful …

Divorce mediation is recommended because it is quicker, cheaper and a more flexible process. It is highly encouraged if there are children involved. Divorce mediation protects the children from being dragged through a long, contentious process. Mediation is a non-binding process, that can be terminated by either party at any point during the process. The mediator helps facilitate the parties coming to agreement on important terms.

In order for mediation to be successful, both parties have to want (or at least be willing) to be part of the process. There cannot be an imbalance of power. Both parties must be able and willing to speak up and participate.

In our mediation sessions, when there are children involved, the first point for discussion is the parenting plan. I have found that if the parties cannot first come to terms on the issues relating to the children, then the mediation often isn’t successful. In discussing the parenting plan, we discuss who has custody, where the children will live, can the parties relocate, how time is shared on holidays and vacations, what happens if schools close for remote learning, etc.

During the mediation we will discuss distribution of all assets and liabilities, including what kind of debts do the parties have? Who is responsible? Who will pay them going forward?

We will discuss maintenance (formerly referred to as alimony), child support and add-on expenses. The parties will discuss the formulas associated with calculating these amounts and decide if they want to negotiate and modify these amounts.

Other matters discussed include without limitation: distribution of money in bank accounts, stocks, bonds, bonuses, deferred comp., etc. There is discussion about health insurance – who has it and who will be responsible for maintaining it going forward. There is discussion about real estate and how any equity may be distributed. We also discuss distribution of retirement monies, i.e. pensions, 401K, 403b, etc. and life insurance – whether the parties have it or need to get it, as well as what happens should one or both of the parents pass away.

The mediation process ends when the parties come to agreement on all open issues. An agreement is prepared and the parties sign this agreement in front of a notary public. The parties are encouraged to have the agreement reviewed by their own attorneys so that they understand what they are legally entitled to and what they may be giving up. Signing the agreement, does not mean that the parties are divorced. The agreement is a contract that is enforceable in court. The agreement must be submitted to the Court (along with approximately 10-15 other documents as part of an uncontested divorce) for Court approval to obtain a divorce.

If you are considering the mediation process and want to see if you are a good candidate for this process, click here to see if mediation is the right option for you.

Presently many divorce mediation sessions are being done virtually. For more information about a virtual divorce mediation, click here.

If you are interested in moving forward with mediation, check out the checklists we have prepared at www.donathlaw.com. These checklists will help you prepare for your mediation and provide some insight on the documents you need to gather to be prepared for your mediation.

For more information, contact Sheree Donath at sheree@donathlaw.com or at 516-804-0274 or by clicking here.

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Happy New Year from Donath Law, LLC

May 2021 bring you, your family and friends health, happiness, prosperity and everything you have been dreaming about this past year.

As you embrace this new year, consider what will make you happy and how to accomplish that goal.

If you are thinking about changes in your employment or your marriage, start this new year right, and contact Donath Law, LLC to find out your rights and options.

After a long year, let’s remember that we still have some control over our destiny. Let’s together make 2021 the best it can be.

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Is your Parenting Plan back to school ready?

Schools are reopening and are operating with new changes in the classroom and virtually. Parents must adapt and ready to navigate this new and fluid environment. Aside from preparing for the unknown school year, parents going through a divorce should consider how the changing environment and new way of school will effect their parenting time with their child(ren). Even parents who have parenting plans in place already may want to modify these plans to update them to include terms related specifically to their child(ren)’s daily education.

The following thoughts may be helpful to include in any new or updated divorce agreements and parenting plans:

(1) Whether one or both parents will make the decision if the child(ren) attend school in person or virtually and if optional, for how many days per week. And whether the decision is one for a short period of time or will continue for the entire school year.

(2) If virtual learning, will one or both parents be responsible for/ present to assist with the child(ren)’s learning/ education? (i.e. help them log in online; make sure they understand, do and submit the assignments; etc.)

(3) Will one or both parents be responsible for assisting with homework?

(4) Will one or both parents be able to work from home should the child(ren) have to quarantine or if the school closes? Or will one or both parents hire someone to assist with the child(ren)’s schooling at home while the parents are at work? Will that be someone from the family or will it be an additional cost and if paying the person, which parent or both will be responsible for any additional costs.

(5) Will one or both parents make the decision to change the child(ren) from in school learning to virtual learning? And if virtual learning, will that be for the whole school year or a quarter? Or how often will the decision be considered or changed? Does the child(ren) have any input into the decision?

(6) Will the child(ren) be able to see both parents if the child(ren) or parent(s) are sick or have been exposed to the coronavirus?

(7) Will the child(ren) be able to attend college? Rent an apartment? Stay in a dorm? Will the parents agree to pay the same tuition if online learning at a university rather than in person learning at a college?

While there are a multitude of questions and unknowns in the current pandemic, some issues can be mapped out for the parents and the children so that there are a few less levels of mystery and anxiety for the parents and the children.

Click on this link to review other items of consideration in preparing a parenting plan.

Parties willing to discuss and resolve these issues can do so with the help of a mediator. If you seek assistance with preparing or modifying your Parenting Plans, contact Sheree Donath at 516-804-0274 or sheree@donathlaw.com or by clicking here.

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Virtual Divorce Mediation – How Does It Work And What Should I Expect?

If your divorce mediation will take place virtually, there are a couple of things to consider. While divorce mediation typically occurred in an office setting many are now being conducted virtually.

To make your mediation process effective and successful, consider the following:

(a) The parties must act good faith. Both parties attending the mediation must want the mediation to work and be willing to work together to achieve that goal. If the parties do not act in good faith then the process will not be successful. The result – the parties will have wasted time and money.

(b) It should be clear to all attending the mediation who is on the virtual mediation. At the onset, the parties should disclose if they are alone or if they have counsel or any other person present with them. There should not be any unknown guests attending the mediation session. This sometimes occurs if the parties do not ask this questions in advance or if the party does not put on their video during the session.

(c) The parties should agree in advance, and be clear, as to whether the session is being recorded. It should be clear from the beginning that there will be no surreptitious recording of any of the sessions.

(d) The parties can be physically together or in different physical locations. The parties may be attending the mediation from the same house. If so, they can decide prior to the mediation if they are comfortable sitting in the same room with the mediator in another location or if they prefer to be in different physical locations in the same house or elsewhere.

(e) The parties should ensure they have a clear connection. Wherever the parties choose to log into the virtual mediation session, they should try out their connection prior to the mediation. It is important that the parties can hear and communicate clearly so their position can be known, heard and discussed.

(f) The mediator can do break out sessions with the parties or can create separate times to speak with each party, as needed.

(g) The parties should be prepared for the mediation. To help prepare for the mediation you may want to review the following articles: Divorce Mediation Checklist – Topics to Help You Prepare for Your Mediation and Divorce Mediation Checklist – What Documentation Should I Gather Before My Mediation?

(h) If there are children involved, you will need to come to terms on a parenting plan during your mediation. To help you prepare for a parenting plan discussion, you may want to review the following article: What Should be Included in a Parenting Plan?

Virtual mediation can be as successful as regular mediation. Mediation, however, is only successful if the parties are truly interested in the process, willing to allow the process to work, willing to compromise, willing to work together and willing to come to joint decisions.

For more information on mediation or to set up a mediation session, contact Sheree Donath at (516) 804-0274 or at sheree@donathlaw.com.

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Coronavirus and How to Navigate/Modify Custody Arrangements and Parenting Plans – Creating a Temporary Parenting Plan

In this time of uncertainty, many questions have arisen regarding joint custody and whether parenting plans that are in place should be followed or modified. Many parents are considering putting a Temporary Parenting Plan in place. Some of the issues being addressed in a modified/temporary plan include, among others:

(a) whether the children should stay with one parent for a certain period of time or if they should continue with the custody schedule in place;
(b) what happens if one of the parents gets sick;
(c) whether both parents will continue to have joint decision-making authority over health matters for the children;

If you decide to modify your parenting plan and determine that the children will remain with one parent, think of alternative arrangements so that the children will not miss quality time with the other parent. Try setting up times for the children to spend time reading or playing virtual games with the other parent by facetime or some other app that allows them face to face contact. Consider modifying your summer schedule and vacation schedule to allot for the other parent to have substantial time with the children once things get back to a more normal routine.

If you do modify the parenting plan, it should be done in writing. It should also be clear that there is an end date to this plan and that the original parenting plan would resume at that time. The end date can be a specific calendar date or something like when the children go back to school or the end of the school year. A date can also be set to determine if the modified plan needs to be extended. The children should be informed of the new temporary plan so that there is no confusion or added disruption to their lives.

A Temporary Parenting Plan can be put into place by the parties or with the help of a third party. For those seeking assistance in modifying their parenting plan, contact Sheree Donath at (516) 804-0274 or at sheree@donathlaw to schedule a time to speak.

The current health crisis should not be used as a means to alienate the other parent and ignore the custody arrangements and parenting plan you have in place. It is a time to try to keep your children safe and healthy.