What is Divorce Mediation?

Divorce mediation is a viable option that should be strongly considered for couples contemplating or navigating a divorce. Unfortunately, many couples do not understand what divorce mediation entails, or why it is in their best interest to consider it.

What Divorce Mediation Is – and Is Not

The role of a divorce mediator is to serve as a neutral facilitator of the decision-making process between a divorcing couple. Those with a background in law are not able to represent clients during the mediation process, since they are hired by and work with the couple jointly rather than with just one spouse. Thus, mediation is not marital counseling or legal representation. Read More >>

Trial Separations: Not Required but Often Helpful

While some believe that trial separations are mandatory before a divorce can be legalized, the truth is that they are not actually required, though they can be very beneficial.

Prior to choosing divorce, many couples engage in a trial separation period. (This applies to both married couples and those who have been living together in a long-term commitment.)

Types of Trial Separations

Many separations are initiated informally when one or both parties decide to live apart from each other, either for a specified length of time or indefinitely. During this period, the couple figures out how to divvy up financial obligations and parenting responsibilities, if children are involved. Some couples actually go on in this state of informal separation for many years, with no inclination to move towards a legal divorce. Read More >>

What Do Collaborative Teamwork and Dessert Have in Common?

I spend a good part of my professional life working in Collaborative teams. By bringing to the table the opinions of other professionals such as mental health workers, financial planners, accountants, and/or real estate agents, we are able to come up with creative solutions for clients as they negotiate the terms of their divorce.

Sometimes the value of this kind of team approach is best understood in ordinary, everyday instances.

This spring I was part of what has become an annual “women’s weekend”. A number of women, some of whom I have known for a long time and others whom I have met through this group, get together and spend a relaxing weekend at a large rental home in Plymouth across the street from the ocean. Read More >>

Retirement Assets in Divorce

Divorce and retirement assets can be very challenging. When determining an equitable division of retirement assets in a divorce context, it is generally best to start by looking at where the couple is in the life cycle. In other words, how close are they to retirement? Some may already be in payout status, while others may be much younger and only beginning to contribute to a 401(k). This factor will make a significant difference in deciding how to equitably divide any assets.

Marital Property

Retirement assets are typically set up in either one spouse’s name or the other. That does not mean that the spouse retains sole ownership rights, however. In most cases, such assets are still considered to be marital property, particularly if funds accrued primarily during marriage. Read More >>

Inheritance and Divorce

Occasionally an inheritance is an unexpected windfall, but an anticipated inheritance can also be an important component of a couple’s household budget or retirement planning.  An inheritance, whether already vested (in the possession of the intended recipient) or anticipated, will become a factor in any divorce settlement.

Anticipated vs. Vested Inheritance

There is a huge difference between an inheritance that is expected and one that has already been received. Assets (i.e., property, a family business, stock, savings) that have been promised to one or both spouses “someday” have not yet materialized. Much could theoretically change between now and “then”. A business could go under or be sold. Savings could unexpectedly be given to charity. Stocks could tank. Real estate property could be devalued. As a result, an expected inheritance might still factor in during divorce settlement discussions, but would have a far lesser weight. Read More >>

To Sell or Not to Sell: Real Estate and Divorce

One challenging aspect of divorce is the fact that numerous important practical decisions must be made while the parties are simultaneously working through difficult emotional changes.

Deciding what to do with jointly-held real estate is one such example. Many couples own a primary marital home, while others may also have vacation homes, investment/rental property, and/or work-related property. It is important to realize that there are different tax consequences for each property type. You should consult with a tax specialist before taking any specific action.

A Mediator or Collaborative Practitioner (CP) may be helpful in suggesting various real estate options to consider. Read More >>

The Role of Financial Advisors in Collaborative Practice and Divorce Mediation

In our previous two posts, we discussed the value that both attorneys and mental health professionals bring to Mediation and Collaborative Practice (CP). We would be remiss if we did not also consider the important function that financial professionals play.

Financial advisors are almost always invited to be a formal part of the CP process, but are also increasingly being used in Mediation as well, though usually in an informal capacity.

Generally the financial professionals are not Mediators themselves, but rather function as part of the team, either formally or informally. Additionally, they may or may not be neutral parties, depending upon the circumstances. Read More >>