Monday, November 24, 2014

Friday, November 21, 2014

FRIDAY-ISM 037

As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, use it as an opportunity to truly reflect on what is important in life. Yes, you are thankful for our family, but how exactly? Thankful for their support, their love, their guidance, their companionship? When you really evaluate why exactly you are thankful for your family, you can love them that much more.

Friday, November 7, 2014

FRIDAY-ISM 036

Quick Tale (or Tail) about a puppy and a dog:
The puppy told the older dog that he has found happiness chasing his tail, and said "I'm going to chase it until happiness is mine." The older dog said he agreed, "But I have found that the more I chase it, the more it disappears." -
Moral of the tale (tail) - Live the best life you can and happiness will come naturally.

Monday, November 3, 2014

I'm a Mompreneur on MBM!

Look who's being featured as this Monday's Mompreneur.....ME! How exciting is that?! A big THANK YOU to Michelle Olson-Rogers of the amazing blog, Modern Boca Mom, for the post. I hope this feature helps spread the word about the wonderful benefits of family mediation as a more harmonious alternative to the traditional, litigious divorce and family dispute.

http://www.modernbocamom.com/2014/11/mompreneur-monday-family-focused-mediation/

Friday, October 31, 2014

FRIDAY-ISM 035

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!! Wishing my readers a very happy and spooky Halloween for you and your families. But please remember wherever your children are and whatever your plans may be, Be Careful! Follow this tips to ensure a SAFE trick or treating night.

http://www.safekids.org/tip/halloween-safety-tips

Friday, October 17, 2014

FRIDAY-ISM 034

Being a parent is hard work. You must constantly focus on your relationship with your child(ren). If you don't put in the time while they're young and they still want to spend time with you, just imagine how much more difficult it will be when they don't want you around. Put in that special time now - you'll reap the benefits in the long run.

www.familyfocusedmediation.com

Friday, October 10, 2014

Thursday, October 9, 2014

U.S. Supreme Court Says No....

This past Monday the United States Supreme Court finally gave its opinion about the right to gay marriage. The Court said nothing. But nothing is good news for the proponents of gay marriage. Basically, the Court denied the states that were seeking an appeal of lower court rulings banishing laws against gay marriage - those states include Wisconsin, Indiana, Utah, Oklahoma, and Virginia. This ruling means that there are 30 states now allowing gay marriage, which represents approximately 60% of Americans.
As incredible as this news is, what does it mean for Florida? The most important ruling that still stands is from U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle of Tallahassee.  Although his opinion is currently being "stayed" (meaning put on hold), it remains precedent in Florida as no higher court has yet to reverse it. Proponents of the ban will request Judge Hinkle to remove the stay, however, they anticipate that Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi will oppose same. Attorney Bondi has a specified amount of time to oppose the request. Until then, Florida will continue to wait and see what lies ahead for gay marriage. Nonetheless, the road has been paved, lines have been painted and the vehicles for allowing gay marriage are waiting to enter. All we need know are the street signs.
** like that analogy??

Want to Learn More - watch this:
http://www.cnn.com/2014/10/06/opinion/toobin-supreme-court-same-sex-marriage/index.html

Monday, October 6, 2014

Talk is Cheap

We've all heard that "talk is cheap." Actions speak louder than words. And so on.... However, in the world of mediation, family mediation especially, talk IS cheap. Talk refers to communication between the disputing parties or family members. Communication is the key to all relationships. When communication fails, so do relationships.  Those relationships include business partners, contracting parties and of course familial relationships.
The Miami Herald, Business Monday section, published a succinct yet thorough article about mediation. The basic premise answers the question: "How do so many cases [non familial] resolve without a jury trial?" - Answer: Mediation! In 2013, in Miami-Dade county, nearly 40,000 new civil cases were filed. Among those 40,000 cases, only 210 juries were selected.  Thus, civil cases had more than a 99% chance of settling outside of the courtroom. How is this possible? - Mediation, Mediation, Mediation!
The world of family law is not much different. There are Florida statutes requiring a judge to order a case to mediation if there is a dispute regarding a child related issue, such as visitation.  The family court system has checks and balances to funnel a majority of the family law cases to mediation. Courts recognize that most family disputes should be settled by the family with a neutral facilitator, the mediator, not by a judge.
As the Herald article mentioned, mediation is much cheaper than litigation. Mediation resolves the dispute within a matter of hours, or days if necessary. The only cost is that of the mediator's time.  Litigation can take months, even years. The cost to litigate includes court costs, attorneys' fees, mediator's fees, and additional expenses in preparation for trial.
Family mediation opens up the lines of communication between the couple, co-parents, or family members, which will assist in facilitating a resolution. Although mediating pre-suit (before one files at the courthouse) is ideal, any time during the divorce/separation process is a good time to mediate.
Bottomline: Mediation was created to be an effective tool for dispute resolution. And it is! Choose to Mediate FIRST because Talk IS Cheap!

FAMILY FOCUSED MEDIATION, INC.  www.familyfocusedmediation.com
(Serving Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade counties)

(source: Miami Herald, Business Monday, Consider Mediation: Talk's Cheaper than a lawsuit, by Scott J. Silverman, October 6, 2014)

Friday, October 3, 2014

FRIDAY-ISM 032 - Happy Kids

Making sure your child is happy is typically one of the most important responsibilities we hold as parents. If your family dynamics are different due to divorce, separation or other circumstances, don't stress about your child's happiness. According to a recent British study, "kids who live with a stepparent or a single parent are just as happy as those in homes with two biological or adoptive parents." The study found that happiness is not determined by the family dynamics. Instead, predictors of happiness include the relationship between siblings, family activities, and having parents that don't shout.  Bottomline - allow you child to thrive in whatever environment they are in by keeping his/her life as carefree, stimulating, and harmonious as possible. Happiness is bound to blossom!

If you're experiencing a divorce, choose family mediation first - it keeps the peace!

www.familyfocusedmediation.com

(serving all parts of Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade)

Friday, September 26, 2014

FRIDAY-ISM 031

Perfect example of why PRO SE divorce can be the best option for a couple.  **pro se = without attorneys


Learn more about PRO SE divorce at www.familyfocusedmediation.com

Friday, September 19, 2014

FRIDAY-ISM 030

A funny, quirky one for this Friday.

"Families are like fudge - mostly sweet with a few nuts." - unknown

Friday, September 12, 2014

FRIDAY-ISM 029

In remembrance of yesterday's 13th anniversary of September 11, I believe the following quotes are inspirational in paying tribute to those victims as well as reminding us to live our best life and to give respect to those we love and once loved.

“Even the smallest act of service, the simplest act of kindness, is a way to honor those we lost, a way to reclaim that spirit of unity that followed 9/11.”
- President Obama
“If we learn nothing else from this tragedy, we learn that life is short and there is no time for hate.”
- Sandy Dahl, wife of Flight 93 pilot Jason Dahl

Monday, September 8, 2014

Family Mediation - Wedding Crashers Style

Perhaps your Monday needs a little laughter... Enjoy this hilarious clip from Wedding Crashers. Although I am NOT endorsing this method of family mediating, it sure does make me laugh.

** Explicit words included - don't show this to your kids.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h_IIyeLhmF0

Friday, September 5, 2014

FRIDAY-ISM 028

In honor of a comic legend, here's to not taking yourself so seriously, no matter what life throws at you: "Never be afraid to laugh at yourself, after all, you could be missing out on the joke of the century." - Joan Rivers

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Co-Parenting Tips from the Today Show


A segment on the Today Show this morning briefly discusses co-parenting gone wrong.  A Today Show follower states that "my husband is better with the kids than I am and it worries me that he doesn't respect me as a mom." This topic is relevant for ALL parents, those who are married and those who are not. Co-Parenting takes practice, lots of it! And if one parent feels that their parenting strategies are not being respected and followed by the other parent, then a problem quickly arises. Children need structure from both parents and more importantly, they need consistency.  If this issue sounds familiar in your life as a parent, then take a moment to reflect on the problem, have a sit down discussion with your co-parent (be it your spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend, or ex) and come to a resolution on how to develop one parenting style that does not compromise one over the other, but perhaps blends them together.  A family mediator has the skills to listen to both sides and create a mutual, middle ground that both parents can adhere to. 

Watch the Today Show clip below. Listen closely for the key word - MEDIATE!
(Clip starts at minute 4:15 and ends at 6:15)

http://www.today.com/id/55974610/displaymode/1283/for/facebookvideo/

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Battle For Gay Marriage Continues




The federal court in Florida has now taken a stance on this hot topic of gay marriage. U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle of Tallahassee took a strong position in the battle against gay marriage, ordering the state of Florida to recognize gay marriage entered into in the state and those entered into out of state. In short, his opinion stated that the ban on gay marriage is an "obvious pretext for discrimination." Furthermore, Judge Hinkle ruled that "[t]olerating views with which one disagrees is a hallmark of civilized society" and the ban "stems entirely, or almost entirely, from moral disapproval of the practice." His ruling denied Attorney General Pam Bondi's argument that marriage's critical feature is the capacity of procreate. From my perspective, this defense was laughable! According to the National Vital Statistics Report of 2013, the approximate percentage of births to unmarried women was 40.6%.  Even Pam Bondi herself has been married and divorced twice with no children. The pure ability to procreate in an opposite sex marriage has absolutely no legitimate effect on whether gay marriage should be recognized in Florida.
Although Judge Hinkle immediately stayed the effects of his ruling pending further appeal, proponents of gay marriage now have significant backing from the state and federal courts of Florida. This battle against Florida's ban wages on.
Amen, Judge Hinkle....

(source Miami Herald, August 22, 2014 - by Steve Rothaus - picture and article)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Child Support Redo?

Back to School Tip #2. The beginning of the school year is another good time to reevaluate your child support arrangement. The Florida Statutes are very explicit when it comes to child support modification. Unfortunately, just because your child may be incurring more expenses now that he/she is enrolled in more school activities or is now maybe a teenage driver, does not automatically mean child support needs to be increased. Key word being "automatic".
Per Florida Statute section 61.30, a party may seek modification of a child support order if there has been a “substantial change in circumstances.” The substantial change between the existing monthly obligation and the current guideline amount must be a difference of 15% or $50.00, whichever is greater. What exactly is a "substantial change in circumstances" you may ask? Well, according to section 61.30(1)(a), relevant factors that a court may consider include "the needs of the child or children, age, station in life, standard of living, and the financial status and ability of each parent."
In a nutshell, this means nothing is a given in family law. However, if you believe your change in circumstances is substantial (ie. your child costs a lot MORE now than he/she did several years ago), then you may be a candidate for a child support modification. Modifications don't need to be battled out in court. A certified family mediator can easily work with both parents to make the necessary recalculations to child support.  Check out my new website for more information.
www.familyfocusedmediation.com

Monday, August 18, 2014

Time to Review Your Timesharing Schedule

Another school year has arrived! Can you believe it!? I know I can't. Quite the morning I had with kindergarten and preschool! If you are in a co-parenting situation, this is the perfect time to review that timesharing schedule. Many schedules were created when your child(ren) were itty bitty. But now they are grown and entering the school system. As your child(ren) mature, their schedules will evolve and the current timesharing schedule may not adequately benefit them. It's always important to keep in mind that putting your child(ren)'s best interests first will maintain the peace within your family dynamic. If your timesharing schedule needs an adjustment, a mediation session with a certified family mediator is the ideal forum to make those modifications. Make the necessary changes in an efficient, less costly and harmonious manner. Check out my NEW website for more information!
www.familyfocusedmediation.com

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

NEW WEBSITE ALERT!

It has launched! Go check out my brand new website. It's awesome and full of useful information if you are experiencing a divorce, separation, or child related issues with a co-parent.
Same address, different look!

WWW.FAMILYFOCUSEDMEDIATION.COM

Friday, August 8, 2014

NEW WEBSITE ON ITS WAY!!

Time to upgrade my website. And the one new should be going LIVE any second now. So please check back soon to see it! It's going to be awesome! ;)

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

3rd Times A Charm


Well, maybe. The Broward Judge who was assigned to a lesbian woman's lawsuit in her fight to receive a divorce, declared the Florida gay marriage ban unconstitutional. Judge Cohen ruled that in order to consider the divorce, he first had to evaluate whether the ban on same sex marriage was constitutional. Although this a giant success in the fight against the 2008 same sex marriage ban, his ruling was immediately stayed pending a possible appeal by Florida Attorney General, Pam Bondi. However, Judge Cohen's words were poignant -
 "This Court believes that the issue here is not whether there is a right to same sex marriage but instead whether there is a right to marriage from which same sex couples can be excluded. The State of Florida cannot ignore the status and dignity afforded to opposite sex couples, who were married out of state, and not extend those same rights, dignities, and benefits to same sex couples similarly situated."
 In contract to the benefits of marriage, the protections that come with separation and divorce, such as child custody and property issues, must also be afforded to same sex couples. As a family mediator, I am proud to be a resident of South Florida, where our legal system is attempting to fight this horrible, discriminatory ban on same sex couples. Let's just hope that Attorney Pam Bondi focuses her efforts on enforcing Florida's legal issues elsewhere.

(source Miami Herald by Steve Rothaus, August 5, 2014)

Friday, August 1, 2014

FRIDAY-ISM 027

FRIDAY-ISM 027: "We are our own worst enemy, and yet our greatest motivator." - Random quote I overheard at L.A. Fitness but insightful nonetheless.

Broward County May Be Joining the Bandwagon


A lesbian woman in Broward County just wants a divorce! But she can't get it. Why? Because the State of Florida does not recognize gay marriage or a civil union within its own state or those entered into out of state. It's highly possible that the Circuit Court judge on this case may become the third Florida judge to declare the ban on gay marriage unconstitutional. The woman can not receive a divorce in Vermont where she entered into the civil union because both spouses need to sign the dissolution papers and her soon to be ex-spouse is unreachable. The Broward judge has stated that he can not grant a divorce until he addresses the constitutionality of the same sex marriage ban. The attorney representing the woman expects that the judge will recognize the out of state civil union, by declaring the ban on gay marriage unconstitutional.
With all the horrific events occurring in the world, why does gay marriage continue to make headlines? Well, in Florida one main hurdle remains to be Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. She continues to fight against the right to marry lawsuits because in 2008 approximately 62% of Florida voters supported the ban. At least other states are beginning to see the nonsense with the ban. North Carolina, for example, declared it would no longer contest right to marry lawsuits that seek to overturn the ban of gay marriage. Additionally, a federal court in Virginia upheld a lower court's ruling that the ban was unconstitutional.
These may be small victories in a big fight, but at least they are setting precedent around the country. Let's stop wasting our time, money and energy fighting against those who just want love (or divorce), and focus our attention on much more globally, crucial topics.

(source Miami Herald, Local & State, by Steve Rothaus July 31, 2014)

Monday, July 28, 2014

4 Valid Reasons to Divorce

If you're experiencing a rocky marriage or serious relationship, perhaps you should take a step back and re-evaluate what's going on. Read the below article and maybe you will find some clarity.
 
4 Completely Valid Reasons for Getting Divorced

Monday, July 21, 2014

ALMOST a Win for Same Sex Marriage



Yes, I know that this topic is counterproductive to my business. However, despite all the divorce and separation that I handle, I still support love and happiness all the way! With that being said, same sex couples were almost handed a win in the fight for gay marriage last Thursday in Key West, Florida. A gay couple filed a lawsuit against the Monroe County Clerk when they were denied a marriage license earlier this year. Believe it or not, Chief Circuit Judge Luis Garcia ruled that the Florida Constitutional Amendment banning same sex marriage violates the United States Constitution, which promises U.S. citizens protection over "the rights of the individual, the rights of the unpopular and rights of the powerless, even at the cost of offending the majority." However, Attorney General Pam Bondi immediately appealed the ruling to the Third District Court of Appeal, which triggered an automatic stay on Judge Garcia's ruling. What does that mean?? It means that gay couples can not proceed with obtaining marriage licenses in Key West until either the stay is lifted by Judge Garcia or the district court. Once again, it becomes a waiting game for this couple and thousands more. But at least it is a HUGE step in the right direction!
The lack of same sex marriage laws similarly affects the couples' ability to divorce. Gay couples who have married in another state that allows gay marriage still can not receive a divorce in Florida. A lesbian couple in Hillsborough County is suing to divorce and the court would not grant it because Florida does not recognize the marriage. The couple could still attend a family mediation and create a divorce settlement agreement so they can move on with their lives. Although the agreement would not be enforceable through the court system, it could still act as a contract between the parties.

(Source- Miami Herald, Same-Sex Rights, by Steve Rothaus and Cammy Clark, July 19, 2014; picture source www.photobucket.com)

Friday, July 18, 2014

FRIDAY-ISM 026

FRIDAY-ISM 026: My EX will NOT determine how I feel today...I WILL!! - Wise words from an old friend. Now go enjoy the weekend. www.familyfocusedmediation.com

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Life + Love + Hope = Happiness

I attended an unbelievably, beautiful wedding this past weekend in New York City. And although I'm typically posting about the end of a marriage, I felt compelled to remind us that love can still exist in the wake of a divorce. It's important to remember that love did once blossom in your life and it can bloom again in the future.  This wedding's venue was positioned so the Freedom Tower was directly in the background. I don't know about you, but I always look for symbolism in the environment around me. During the ceremony, I couldn't help but be consciously aware that life, love and hope are intertwined and lay the foundation of what's ahead for us all.
 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

CHEERS to Divorce Parties!



Celebrating a divorce? Partying and toasting to the end of a marriage and family? Not your usual cup of tea when it comes to a fun-filled Saturday night. But believe it or not, divorce parties are hip. You don't have to mourn the end of a marriage anymore, you can take the other approach (the high road as some may say) and toast to a new beginning instead. The Miami Herald just today published an article about divorce parties. One specific party hosted in South Beach nonetheless included donating wedding gowns to charity, mini-coffins to put your negative thoughts inside and bury, and donkey designed stress balls for when your ex is acting like a jackass. Finding the humor in these parties is obvious. However, the goal is to bring together divorcees and encourage them to move forward in their lives and let go of the past. Experiencing a divorce is beyond difficult for some as it is one of the most stressful and emotional times of a person's life.  Humor and light-heartedness are the best means of motivation for moving on.  Whether it's a divorce party or a divorce coach, there are ways to pick oneself up from the hardship of a divorce and find the happiness in life again.

Source: Miami Herald, Tropical Life Section, by Sue Arrowsmith dated July 9, 2014 (Picture taken from Miami Herald article)

Monday, July 7, 2014

Divorcing After 50

Although this topic is not unusual, it now presents an interesting perspective. The "silver" divorce is gaining in popularity and beginning to concern professionals from financial planners to sociologists to the federal government. As of 2010, the silver divorce has more than doubled from 1 in 10 divorces to 1 in 4 divorces, according to U.S. Census data by the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University. Why the worry? Well, as this aging group of baby boomers suddenly becomes more single, there is a real possibility of an increase in poverty rates for these singles compared to those whom remain married.  Single individuals are less able to take advantage of the economic benefits of marriage. For instance, there are no built-in caregivers or a second source of income. Additionally, policy experts are concerned about the affect on Social Security, Medicare and other federal programs. 
Why are silver divorces doubling in numbers? Many researchers believe this increase stems from multiple factors. One major factor being the disappearance of the stigma of divorcing. A cultural shift back in the 1970's has progressively lessened the negativity surrounding divorce. Long term marriages tend to fall apart once the children are grown. Life expectancy is growing and people are no longer willing to remain in mediocre marriages when a large portion of their life is still ahead of them.
Some words of advice for those experiencing the beginnings of a silver divorce. Don't litigate against a spouse whom you've just shared 20, 30 or 40 years with.  These divorces may be tense, but can definitely remain amicable. Mediating with a Supreme Court certified family mediator is the least stressful and emotional way to separate. Mediators can also assist the individuals with finding other post-divorce professionals to help guide the parties through the next phase of their life.  After a long term marriage, one or both of the parties will benefit from the help of a financial planner, mental health therapist, and/or divorce coach. Most importantly, family mediation won't nearly break the bank for a divorcing couple as a litigious divorce would.
(Source - Miami Herald, Tropical Life Section, "Suddenly Single" by Ana Veciana-Suarez dated April 19, 2014)

Friday, May 23, 2014

FRIDAY-ISM 025

FRIDAY-ISM 025: In Honor of Memorial Day - "A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself." - Joseph Campbell
As we enjoy the long holiday weekend, let's not forget to remember those who are heroes in our country and our every day life. Be a Hero to someone by showing him/her how to do the right thing.

Friday, May 16, 2014

United Family Court Summit

Today I attended an insightful and extremely informative Unified Family Court Summit. 

Friday, May 9, 2014

FRIDAY-ISM 024

Some powerful words in the wake of loss, be it loss of a loved one, relationship, or something else you cherished:
“This is not a goodbye, my darling, this is a thank you. Thank you for coming into my life and giving me joy, thank you for loving me and receiving my love in return. Thank you for the memories I will cherish forever. But most of all, thank you for showing me that there will come a time when I can eventually let you go." - Nicholas Sparks

Friday, April 25, 2014

Forgiveness - A Trait We All Can Work On

As the title already points out, forgiveness is one trait that is a continual work in progress. An act warranting forgiveness ranges from the trivial act (taking a cookie without asking), to the moderate act (telling a lie to avoid being punished or hurting someone's feelings), to the severe act which could be punishable by law.  Regardless of the act, the root of all forgiveness is the same - putting aside your own feelings as the victim and absolving the offender of the act. Research studies have shows that people who forgive are happier and healthier than those who hold grudges and resentments.  We all can work a little harder at forgiving those that have hurt us. Whether it's your child who called you a negative name or your ex-spouse who has made your life miserable after the marriage, forgiveness is in order.


An outrageous example of forgiveness was recently debuted in Iran. I have posted a link to the story below......Now that's forgiveness!
http://www.businessinsider.com/iranian-parents-spared-their-sons-killer-from-execution-2014-4?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+businessinsider+%28Business+Insider%29

Friday, April 11, 2014

FRIDAY-ISM 023

In the Words of Queen Elsa - "Let It Go!" - Although Disney's meaning for the saying is not as deep as mine, the quote is still poignant. Basically, don't sweat the small stuff. Save your arguments, opinions and judgments for the major things in life and let the simple things go.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Family Mediators Do More Than Just Divorce


As our society becomes more familiar with family mediation, we are learning of new ways to use this alternative dispute process. Family mediation is just one large umbrella that incorporates ALL family issues - divorce, children, extended family, health issues, etc. 
The below article gives some insight into how a family mediator can assist a family at odds about caring for an elderly relative. A family mediator is the perfect professional to guide a family in finding solutions and making decisions for the future.

http://www.mediate.com/articles/BurgH2.cfm

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Good Tip for Slowing Down in a Fast Paced World & Marriage

This article gives a good tip for slowing down in this fast paced, technological world we live in.  Smartphones, tablets, computers force us to think and act fast. Let's slow things down so we can better communicate in our marriages and in real life.
http://www.mediate.com/articles/IsraelL21.cfm

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Business of Marriage & Divorce

It sounds so unromantic but it's the truth - Marriage is like a business entered into by contract. Of course, unlike a business, marriage consists of love, emotion, children, and families, making it more of an intangible concept. However, similar to a business, when a marriage falls apart, it must be treated as business-like with all the flowery concepts of emotion, etc. aside. (Obviously, if children are involved we tread more delicately.) 
The article below published in the Miami Herald last weekend is a great practical guide for those wondering what to do now. Once the couple has decided to divorce, there are some key steps in preparation for dividing their assets and liabilities: Find professional support (ie. financial advisor), collect important financial documents (ie. bank statements, tax returns), run a credit report, and create a list of your daily/monthly expenses.
Thankfully, the article discusses a "DIY" divorce - do it yourself. There's no reason to always hire divorce attorneys, especially when the couple does not maintain any complex financial or business assets/liabilities. I don't recommend drawing up your own marital settlement agreement as there are some major pitfalls, especially if children are involved, that can be avoided by using a family mediator. A family mediator has the training, experience, and knowledge in assisting the couple to draw up a fair agreement. Whether you hire attorneys or not, I would highly recommend that the couple mediate BEFORE filing for divorce. Don't waste time juggling multiple schedules and taking days off of work to go in and out of court or an attorney's office. Sit down for mediation first, resolve all the issues, then file at the courthouse. Remember the old saying, KISS - keep it simple stupid. It applies in divorce too!

http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?p_action=doc&p_docid=14C47BEA4B89A8B8&p_docnum=1

(in case link doesn't work, I've re-posted the article below)

Miami Herald, The (FL)
2014-02-28


Financial advice for divorce: It's a business deal, so keep emotions out of it


Not every love story has a happy ending. For every two people getting married each year, there is one getting divorced, according to the U.S. Census Bureau."You always think when you're newlyweds that the first few years are the peak of the divorce years, and that after 20 years everything is fine and dandy," but many divorces happen to longtime couples, said Vielka Burey-Jacas, a certified financial planner and certified divorce financial analyst in Kendall.In the heat of a breakup, divorcing couples tend to make financial mistakes that will haunt them for years. But money advisors say keeping a cool head can lead not only to a peaceful dissolution, but more money in your pocket."People make so many financial mistakes when they divorce. Why? Part of the reason is because divorce is such an emotional time, and no one makes good financial decisions when they're on what seems like a never-ending emotional rollercoaster," said Jeff Landers, a New York certified divorce financial analyst and author of Divorce: Think Financially, Not Emotionally - What Women Need To Know About Securing Their Financial Future Before, During, And After Divorce. "People make mistakes because the financial aspects of divorce are more complicated than ever."The torrents of rage or injustice you feel towards your ex will do nothing for your bottom line. "The first thing you need to do is remove your emotions," Burey-Jacas said.
Here are some tips to get started:
IT'S BUSINESS, NOT PERSONAL "At the risk of sounding terribly unromantic, let me offer this reminder: At its core, marriage is a business contract," Landers said. "When you're married, you share things with your partner - things like your income, expenses, assets, liabilities, a stock portfolio ... the list goes on and on."
FIND PROFESSIONAL SUPPORT A divorcing person's first instinct is to surround themselves with friends, but when it comes to financial (and legal) matters, a pro is best, Burey-Jacas said. "Surround yourself with a good team - a divorce attorney, a divorce financial analyst, a mental health counselor. Look for expert advice."Make sure you have a divorce financial advisor on your team so you fully understand the short- and long-term financial and tax implications of any decisions that are made during the divorce negotiation process, Landers said.
ORGANIZE YOURSELF Collect your financial papers, mortgage and credit card statements, bank accounts, tax returns and year-end statements from everything.
GET A CREDIT REPORT  Especially when you're planning or going through a divorce, Burey-Jacas said. Not just to see your score, but to see if new accounts have been opened in your name, if your spouse has been running up charges on your joint credit cards, or to look for hidden assets. "It can be an eye-opener," she said.
ESTABLISH A FINANCIAL IDENTITY If you are thinking about or are in the middle of dissolving your marriage, open checking and savings accounts and a credit card in your name while you're still married. "Because chances are your income will not be the same after you go through a divorce," Burey-Jacas said.Kathleen Jarvis, a Margate nurse, was married 23 years before her marriage ended in 1998. She said, in hindsight, "I would have had my own bank account sooner during the marriage. รข€¦ I believe that married people should have their individual accounts plus a joint account that covers the bills."Go into a marriage thinking about its end, said Charles Sachs, a Miami certified financial planner and host of the radio show Straight Talk on Your Money on WZAB in Miami. Sachs said in hindsight, his divorce taught him many lessons. One was to keep some things separate."I learned the hard way not to commingle bank accounts, credit cards and credit reports," he said. "There are just too many problems that can arise when everything is in one pot."
KNOW YOUR STATE LAWS Florida is not a community property state. It's an equitable distribution state, where both spouses are considered equal owners of assets acquired during marriage. "Whatever is owned or obtained during the marriage is considered co-owned, regardless of whose name is on it," Burey-Jacas said.For example, if you each have a 401(k), the portion acquired during the marriage would generally be divided equally, because it is part of marital assets, she said.However, equitable distribution also can be affected by length of marriage, the age and the health of the person, income and standard of living, Burey-Jacas said.
CREATE A LIFESTYLE ANALYSIS This is crucial for anyone planning a divorce, Burey-Jacas said. It's an analysis of the things that you do on a day-to-day basis: eating out, dry cleaning, car washing. That will create an entire picture of your financial lifestyle. Many divorce attorneys require it, because it is an accurate picture of your spending - not just what is on your credit cards.
SHARE MONEY RESPONSIBILITIES "Women, in particular Latin women, tend to leave the responsibility of money to their husband," Burey-Jacas said. "But you need to be aware. Sit down with him once a month and review everything."Burey-Jacas said ideally money matters should be discussed before you exchange vows. "It should begin when you're dating someone seriously. You need to start talking about your finances - how much debt you have, how much you owe in student loans, so when you begin a marriage, these conversations flow naturally. You don't have to force someone to show you something."Jarvis said she learned that it creates problems when one spouse controls all of the accounts. "Couples should go into a marriage knowing each other's financial status and having a plan to address any issues," she said.Landers said it's critical to be involved. "Would you enter into a business partnership if your partner was the only one who could make financial decisions?" he said. "The same is true in marriage. There's too much at stake for anyone to remain on the sidelines."Not only does having working knowledge of your family finances make a divorce easier, it makes marriage easier, too, Landers said. "Couples can avoid lots of arguments about money if they communicate regularly about finances and make decisions together," he said.
DIY DIVORCE Most people don't know you can go to the courthouse, pay $409, and if you meet the requirements, file for a simplified divorce yourself, Sachs said. There also is a self-help service available."Divorce attorneys get paid by the hour and are more than willing to tell you that they will fight for your rights, but the fact remains, things are probably going to get split up equitably anyway and the only difference is that if both of you have attorneys, the amount to be split will be much smaller," Sachs said.Draw up your own settlement agreement. "It may be one of the most difficult things you do," he said. But doing so will "keep more money in both parties' pockets, and keep at bay a host of professionals who make lots of money from your situation."
RETITLE ASSETS After the divorce, remember to close your joint accounts, retitle other accounts and change the beneficiary on your assets.DO A PRE-NUPIt sounds unromantic, but pre-nuptials are important: If you are expecting an inheritance from a parent; if you own a business; if you were previously married or have children; if you have expensive jewelry. There are lots of reasons, Burey-Jacas said."I did not create a pre-nup, and I paid for this mistake dearly," Sachs said. "Blame it on your family, attorney and/or financial advisor, but consider drawing up a document that protects what you currently have and may inherit."If marriage is the most important contract you'll ever enter into, why would you not have the same legal counsel to protect you that you would use for any other contract?" he said.You may have gotten married for love, but treat a breakup like a business deal."The key to success is organization and to move your emotions to the side," Burey-Jacas said.This article includes comments from the Public Insight Network, an online community of people who have agreed to share their opinions with the Miami Herald and WLRN. Become a source at MiamiHerald.com/insight .

Read more here: http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?p_action=doc&p_docid=14C47BEA4B89A8B8&p_docnum=1#storylink=cpy

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Couples Therapy vs Marital Mediation

How Family Mediation and Couples Therapy Can Work Together. Mediation is NOT just for divorcing couples. It can be used as a tool for problem solving during a marriage. Therapy handles the underlying issues while mediation can resolve the surface level problems. Read the article below to learn a new approach for family mediation. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Who is the primary breadwinner?

Family dynamics are drastically changing. The familiar scene in Leave it to Beaver is disappearing.  A shift in the role of family breadwinner is happening across America as women are earning more than their husbands. A 2013 report from the Pew Research Center showed that women are the primary breadwinner in 40% of U.S. households with children, including single moms. The article below further examines this interesting change in our society. 
This information is relevant for family mediation with regards to alimony/spousal support. It's no longer the husband who is solely responsible for making alimony payments; women may be responsible as well.
http://www.workingmother.com/content/breadwinning-moms

Friday, February 14, 2014

FRIDAY-ISM 022

FRIDAY-ISM 022: Don't let the day go by without telling the people who love and support you, how special they are in your life.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Divorce and Religion Rolled into One

Although a divorce is usually a straightforward decision between two spouses, other extraneous factors can hinder the process. For example, the religion of the couple can clearly complicate a simple divorce. Because of South Florida's large Jewish population, I thought the following article would be an interesting read. The use of a "get" is more likely to be seen with Orthodox Jewish couples than those who are less religious. A legal divorce through the State of Florida is just not enough for these couples. 

http://www.mediate.com/articles/RichardsonM1.cfm

Friday, February 7, 2014

FRIDAY-ISM 021

In Honor of the Sochi Olympics:

"I don't set out to beat the world; I just set out to do my absolute best." - Al Oerter (Olympic Gold Medalist)


This quote is true not only in sports, but in life. Our daily focus should always be to do and act our best, especially in the way we treat our family and friends.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Domestic Violence Can Happen Anywhere

Domestic Violence is a serious problem in our society. The incidence of violence is high among families going through separation and divorce.  When a family is experiencing division, many people are blinded with extreme emotions and their rational thinking is clouded with hurt, anger and sadness. If you or someone you know is living in a situation where domestic violence is possible, please encourage that person to leave the house and seek a safe haven. 

The below article describes a recent and tragic event which occurred in an upscale and family-friendly community. Domestic violence can happen in the most unexpected places.

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/broward/parkland/fl-parkland-body-found-20140202,0,709425.story

Friday, January 31, 2014

FRIDAY-ISM 020

(Back after a brief hiatus) If you're currently raising a teenager, already raised one, or remember being a teenager yourself, the following quote should bring you some laughter! Teens are tough but be patient, one day they will come around.
FRIDAY-ISM 020: “When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.” – Mark Twain

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Divorce is EXPENSIVE!

Considering Divorce? Or know someone who is? You have options other than hiring an attorney. Divorce can be EXPENSIVE! Save cost by working with a mediator first!
http://www.attorneys.com/divorce/how-much-do-divorces-cost/

Friday, January 17, 2014

To Mediate or Not?

If you're curious whether your family issue is a candidate for family mediation, then read the article below.  It helps identify some important factors when deciding if mediation is right for your family.


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/05/how-to-divorce-how-do-i-d_n_1474768.html