How Does A Divorce Change Your Finances?

How Does A Divorce Change Your Finances? - Peace Talks Mediation Services - Divorce, Divorce Mediation, Finances - Copyright: <a href="https://www.123rf.com/profile_dolgachov">dolgachov / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Are you in the very beginning stages of getting a divorce? Concerned at what your financial landscape will look like once your separation has been finalized?

One thing is for sure, many things will change after a divorce, and one of the most significant changes will be your finances.

Here are a few financial thoughts to keep in mind as you and your partner begin this difficult chapter:

  • Taxes can be impacted in various ways
  • Make sure to learn about ALL of your financial accounts, income streams, debts and assets
  • Alimony and child support payments can quickly drain your accounts
  • You and your ex will still be responsible for any shared debt
  • Think with a clear head, not a broken heart
  • Reach out to a financial mediator who is experienced in the divorce process

Going through a divorce is a time for significant life-altering adjustments and great emotional distress.

It’s vital to reach out to a financial expert who can objectively review your finances and discuss with you and your spouse various scenarios that may be available for both of you to reach a settlement that takes into consideration the entire family.

At Peace Talks, our team of experts focuses solely on mediating family law conflicts. We are a full-service mediation firm that specializes in helping people in Southern California settle their divorce in a sane and sensible manner.

We begin by helping you to articulate your financial needs, concerns, and objectives. Then, we help you identify accurate values for your assets, debts, income streams and expenses.

Whether you are getting divorced, planning your estate or negotiating a premarital agreement, our team of experienced, skilled divorce mediators and family law mediators will create practical solutions to difficult financial situations.

Contact us today to see how we can help you navigate through your finances in a civil co-operative environment!

Note: This information is general in nature and should not be construed as legal/financial/tax advice. You should work with your attorney, financial, or tax professional to determine what will work best for your situation.

Getting A Trust For The Sake of the Kids

Getting A Trust For The Sake of the Kids - Peace Talks Mediation Services - Living Trust, Estate Planning, Divorce, Children of Divorce - Copyright: <a href="https://www.123rf.com/profile_designer491">designer491 / 123RF Stock Photo</a>If You Have Children, You Should Get a Trust!

For most of us, our children are our most precious “possessions”. At Peace Talks Mediation, we feel the exact same way and we make their well being the focus of our divorce mediation. However, while we may believe that we place our children’s interests as our highest priority, many of us have not taken the necessary steps to protect and provide for them in the event that we come to an untimely demise. Often we procrastinate believing that estate planning is only for the rich or the elderly. Or perhaps, we wishfully think that our extended family will jump in and take care of our children in case we die. At Peace Talks mediation, we encourage you to do the responsible thing: Get a Trust!

Financial planning is an essential part of protecting your children and creating a family trust is an excellent vehicle to accomplish this.A trust, which is a formal legal document,achieves many important things: It manages your money, and distributes it for you upon your death. It puts conditions on how and when your assets are distributed after you die; it can also reduce your estate and gift taxes. It enables your assets to be distributed efficiently without the cost, delay, and publicity of the probate court. It may also insulate your assets from creditors and lawsuits. Additionally, you are able to name a successor trustee who will manage your trust after you die, and is also empowered to do so if you become disabled. At Peace Talks’ divorce mediation, our financial experts can explain this process in detail to you.

This is the key fact: the truth is that all parents of young children, regardless of their net worth, need comprehensive estate planning. The reason is that if you don’t have an estate plan, you forfeit the opportunity to make many important decisions that you are in the best position to make. In Peace Talks’ opinion, this is the primary reason:You are able to choose a guardian for your minor children. If your children lost both you and your spouse in a tragic accident, would you trust a complete stranger to choose a guardian for them? We at Peace Talks mediation don’t believe you would. But that’s exactly what can happen if you don’t take the time to designate a guardian for your minor children. If you die intestate (without a will or trust), without having designated a guardian, you leave that important decision in the hands of a judge who doesn’t know you or your children. Peace Talks believes that would be a big mistake.

Next, you are able to choose the person who will manage the assets that you will leave for you children.With a trust in place, you can have some say in how your children’s money is spent. Setting up a trust for your children allows you to delay when they get control of assets you leave behind, or even stagger the distribution over a number of years. Otherwise, your children could receive their share of assets at 18 years of age, when they might not have the maturity to manage it.

Without a trust, you leave the decision making to a judge who doesn’t know anything about your financial values and will be required to appoint a guardian of your estate to oversee its management. As we urge at Peace Talks divorce mediation, all this can be avoided by proper advance estate planning. Remember these are important issues for your family. Since trusts are flexible, varied and complex with each type having its advantages and disadvantages, you should discuss your desires and goals thoroughly with your estate-planning attorney before setting one up.

Call us at Peace Talks divorce mediation for further information. (310) 301-2100.

Protect Your Children: Get a Will!

Protect Your Children: Get a Will! - Peace Talks Mediation Services - Will, Last Will and Testament, Divorce, Children - Copyright: <a href="https://www.123rf.com/profile_welcomia">welcomia / 123RF Stock Photo</a>While many of us may believe that estate planning is only for the rich or the elderly, you should know that this process is essential if you have children. At Peace Talks Mediation, not only do we help you with divorce mediation, but we also recommend how you can protect your most precious “possessions” your children. As we advocated in our previous blog, “If You Have Children, You Should Get a Trust!”, we now recommend you to get a will too. These two estate planning vehicles, a trust and a will, work together to protect and provide for your children in the event that you come to an untimely demise. Peace Talks Mediation encourages you to do the responsible thing: Get a Will!

Making a will is essential for people with young children because a will is the best way to transfer guardianship of minors. This means that you decide who you wish to raise your children if you are unable to do so, not a probate judge. Once you draw up a will with your estate-planning advisor, you may amend your will at any time. In fact Peace Talks thinks it’s a good idea to review it periodically. This is especially true if your marital status changes which can be peacefully and sanely accomplished through divorce mediation at Peace Talks.

As previously mentioned, a will is usually done at the same time that you create a trust. A trust is a legal mechanism that lets you put conditions on how your assets are distributed after you die, and it often lets you minimize gift and estate taxes. A will is still necessary because most trusts deal only with specific assets such as life insurance or a piece of property, but not the sum total of your holdings, for example distributing your jewelry or family artifacts. Additionally, the most valuable things that you leave for your children may not have any monetary value. These are the traditions and life lessons that define you as part of your own unique family. Peace Talks suggests the use of Ethical Wills, which are non-binding documents that allow you to pass on these intangible treasures to your loved ones.

Peace Talks wants to share some additional tips with you. You may prefer not to keep your original will in your safe-deposit box because some states will seal your box when you die and not allow it to be opened until the estate has been settled. Clearly, settling your estate is much easier with the original will being available. We suggest that you keep a copy of your will in your safe-deposit box, but give the original to your lawyer or place it in a fireproof box at your home or in your office. With the invention of the cloud, you are even able to scan all your important financial paperwork and keep a virtual copy of this material within a secure web site. It’s also essential to share the location of your trust and will as well as access to these documents with close family members, so that in the event of an emergency they will be able to obtain this vital information. Here at the California Peace Talks Office, we know that there is a potential for a disastrous earthquake. If all your estate documents were destroyed, a virtual copy of everything would be helpful to have.

Keep in mind that no one knows and loves your children like you do. By doing the type of estateplanning that Peace Talks has described, you are in control of making the decisions that are in the best interests of your children, especially appointing a guardian for them. And Peace Talks divorce mediation believes, isn’t that the way it should be? So get a will! Please give us a call to explore our mediation services at (310) 301-2100.

Tax Breaks for the Divorced Circa 2019

Tax Breaks for the Divorced Circa 2019 - Peace Talks Divorce Mediation - Taxes, Tax Refund, Divorce“Lower tax-refunds” has been a subject in the news a lot recently. It is something that that’s a real issue for most people paying taxes.

The fact that less tax may have, indeed, been taken out doesn’t soften the blow when that check is disappointing and deflated from previous years.

There are strategies available to help counter some of the unfavorable changes in the tax laws and your fiduciary advisor should be able you navigate through those options. Here are some ideas from Kiplinger that might help in forming a plan, to lessen the likelihood of a negative surprise next year.

If you’re recently divorced, add your tax situation to the long list of complications you need to deal with. For starters, if you haven’t already done so, you need to file a new W-4 form with your employer to increase or decrease the amount withheld from your paycheck.

It is perfectly legal for the noncustodial parent to claim one of these credits for a son or daughter if the other parent signs a waiver agreeing not to claim an exemption for the same child on his or her return.

Taxable alimony counts as compensation for the purposes of making IRA contributions.

Hi Jeff re: The Beautiful Quote from MacKenzie – A Tribute to Your “Friendship & Family”

Hi Jeff,

As a mediator in the often-acrimonious world of divorce-negotiations I was so floored by the quote below from you and Mackenzie that I had to write and thank her:

 Dear Mackenzie,
As a divorce mediator I would, on behalf of my colleagues, like to thank you for the brilliant encapsulation of the goals that we’d like all our couples to achieve. As a divorced mom I know that these are the things that my kids should never have doubts about for the rest of our lives together. This quote will be displayed in our office so that every couple walking in the door sees how high the bar is set and what we are committed to accomplishing with them.

Later on I realized that I should acknowledge your part in this “Mantra” for peaceful resolution and I’m going to display it in our office as I hope it will inspire others. This is a beautiful encapsulation of what every mediator tries to achieve with every family’s goals as we reach their final agreement and they are prepared for new beginnings.

Thanks to You & Mackenzie for the inspiration,

Stephanie Maloney
PeaceTalks Mediation

We want to make people aware of a development in our lives. As our family and close friends know, after a long period of loving exploration and trial separation, we have decided to divorce and continue our shared lives as friends. We feel incredibly lucky to have found each other and deeply grateful for every one of the years we have been married to each other. If we had known we would separate after 25 years, we would do it all again. We’ve had such a great life together as a married couple, and we also see wonderful futures ahead, as parents, friends, partners in ventures and projects, and as individuals in pursuing ventures and adventures. Though the labels might be different, we remain a family, and we remain cherished friends.

Jeff & MacKenzie Bezo

Letter To MacKenzie Bezos

To: MacKenzie Bezos
c/o The Los Angeles Times

Dear Mackenzie,

As a divorce mediator I would, on behalf of my colleagues, like to thank you for the brilliant encapsulation of the goals that we’d like all our couples to achieve. As a divorced mom I know that these are the things that my kids should never have doubts about for the rest of our lives together. The quote below will be displayed in our office so that every couple walking in the door sees how high the bar is set and what we are committed to accomplishing with them.

Gratefully Yours,

Stephanie M. Maloney
PeaceTalks Mediation

“We want to make people aware of a development in our lives. As our family and close friends know, after a long period of loving exploration and trial separation, we have decided to divorce and continue our shared lives as friends. We feel incredibly lucky to have found each other and deeply grateful for every one of the years we have been married to each other. If we had known we would separate after 25 years, we would do it all again. We’ve had such a great life together as a married couple, and we also see wonderful futures ahead, as parents, friends, partners in ventures and projects, and as individuals in pursuing ventures and adventures. Though the labels might be different, we remain a family, and we remain cherished friends.”

“Taxi Driver” Divorce Delayed

It would be difficult to find a celebrity that tries harder to avoid publicity than Robert De Niro but privacy is the true cost of fame and everybody pays eventually.

This is a brilliant example of how cooperation could have saved everyone incredibleembarrassment and pain. What struck me immediately from all the stories was the quote from his friend:

 A source close to De Niro was quoted as saying that “This could be resolved very privately and quietly behind closed doors but“Bobby’s”estranged wife is torturing the publicity shy actor by forcing him to go to court and run a gauntletof reporters and photographers.”

The evident anger that is displayed here gets a little more confusing when you consider that this is their secondtime in divorce court. The couple first filed for a separation in 1999 —at the time they were in a custody fight over their now-20-year-old son, Elliot. They later reconciled and renewed their vows in 2004.

So the publicity the family members are being flooded with represents the exact thing they could have avoided had they been open to engaging a mediator instead of a Judge. All of this could have been less painful if they had a mutually satisfactory “Settlement Agreement” in place as a kind of protectionand bond. This is precisely the goal of every PeaceTalks relationship, to provide couples with an agreeable path to successful cooperation.

Here are a few descriptions of scenes, which could have been avoided, at the courthouse:

Robert De Niro struck his best “Taxi Driver” glare for reporters as he tried to keep his divorce and custody battle quiet by securing an “Anonymous v. Anonymous” caption on the case but word of his presence quickly spread and the gawkers gathered.

They had been waging a secret custody battle over the 7-year-old girl they had through a surrogate. The “Raging Bull” actor kept the divorce filing quiet by securing a coveted “Anonymous v. Anonymous” caption on the case, records show.

He remained adamant about keeping details of the negotiations hush-hush as he and his estranged wife of more than 20 years, Grace Hightower, sat at opposite ends of the courtroom. At one point, he shushed his lawyers as they hashed out custody arrangements for the couple’s 7-year-old daughter in the courtroom gallery.

The two studiously avoided one another — De Niro hid behind his newspaper while Hightower, read a book and glanced at her phone. Sources said the two have a prenuptial agreement but Justice Matthew Cooper said that the former couple had made “some progress on some difficult issues” but will still have to resolve “particulars” of a settlement and exchange statements of net worth.

De Niro and Hightower had just spent hours in Manhattan Supreme Court, where their lawyers holed up behind closed doors to hash out their divorce.

It’s torture indeed being forced to spend the day in court, but with mediation, very possibly avoidable for people that can agree to be agreeable, if only for the kids.

Divorce Mediation Primer

I came across a nice synopsis of why mediation for your divorce may be the smartest choice.

It is safe to say that most couples facing divorce expect the experience to be agonizing as well as exhausting. Ending a marriage, and the ensuing divorce, is one of the most emotional events of a lifetime. Since couples anticipate a difficult time, many wish they could find an easier path and if this sounds like your situation, then divorce mediation may be your best solution.

• May benefit children: When kids of divorce see their parents work together to resolve conflicts, it often helps them feel more secure about the breakup.

• More affordable: In nearly all cases, divorce mediation imposes fewer costs than traditional litigation. Mediation may also proceed faster than a courtroom divorce.

• Reduces anxiety: The idea of going to court causes many couples to feel anxious. An out of court solution helps to reduce these feelings of anxiety.

Divorce mediation does not work for everyone, so it is crucial to seek a legal opinion to determine if you and your spouse are good candidates. In the end, anything you can do to make the process of divorcing as easy as possible for you and your children, it is worth the effort. Call the office with any questions you’d like to talk over.

Creative Co-Parenting

One of the great dynamics that we participate in at our Divorce Mediation sessions at PeaceTalks is the age-old mantra “necessity is the mother of invention.” Once we’re able to establish a common goal for our couples in each of the areas involving conflict it’s amazing how quickly they discover resolutions through cooperation and creativity. By treating each situation and its possible solutions differently, according to the needs of the moment, people find a way to do what is best for the family, especially when it means making some unexpected “cooperative adjustments” in the schedule.

Adjustments will always be part of the daily plan but they will vary with the respective ages of the kids, as the issues will be different with each age group. I’ve put in a link to a very informative piece by a local authority on this subject and here are a couple of highlights:

Babies and toddlers tend to be the most challenging group for which to plan a reliable schedule. Babies need consistency, and even little changes in their schedules can put them in a state of distress. It is important for the other parent to see children at this age often—around 2 to 3 times a week for several hours. 

As your child gets older, it is a good idea to slowly transition into overnight visits in order to help your child adjust to an unfamiliar schedule. Alternating one full day every other week is a good way to see if your child is okay being away from their primary caretaker.

Teens and older children have less predictable schedules and are thus harder to accommodate. It is important to consider your child’s social lives and busy schedules when planning how to organize visits between parents.

While flexibility is essential when first trying out a new plan, it is important to eventually agree on a fixed schedule in order to help your child maintain stability in their everyday lives.

Leyla Balakhane is a distinguished and experienced mediator, facilitator, coach, and trainer in the Los Angeles area, specializing in high conflict divorce and family law.

https://www.mediate.com/articles/balakhane-effective-parenting-plans.cfm

Amazon Fairness and Divorce, Oh My!

For anyone who can’t let go of that “Money=Happiness” thing, just read and be kind of glad that you don’t have so much money that God borrows from you.

The divorce fairness issue that Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos don’t have to worry about

https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/11/opinions/divorce-unfair-bezos-opinion-cohen/index.html

Less Painful Divorces

With just less than half of married partners ending in divorce, therapists over time have developed some suggestions for making the process possibly less painful for everyone.

You will see from these suggestions why PeaceTalks always makes sure a therapist is available for both parties for every session. You can see a thread with these ideas that reinforces the principle that this is between the two of you and nobody else.

It’s always a great thing when a couple gets helpful advice but one of the primary benefits of Divorce Mediation is the fact that you are in control.

Once the decision is made the announcement should be as simple, heartfelt, and brief as possible.

The reaction might seem to call for an explanation but it’s best to let things play out before getting into the “why’s” and “how’s” of your relationship and its new direction.

Unsolicited advice will be one of the first reactions you encounter and remember it’s not your job to justify your decisions or to act upon a loved one’s advice. You can always be grateful but non-committal as you navigate through the well intentioned and the misinformed.

Divorce Mediation Means Talking

In getting to a mutually agreeable divorce settlement we make progress, literally, by getting couples to communicate with each other. Many couples find it difficult to communicate. Our therapist mediator will provide tools to better communication and can also facilitate a “difficult conversation.”Communication is an interactive process, and text messages can be a great way to stay in contact, but too much can be lost in tone for real communication.

At the Peace Talks table we establish a neutral ground for couples to exchange their points of view and identify the goals of their mediation. The questions and answers are the bricks for the foundation of the settlement agreement but not all of the work gets done at the table.

Throughout the process and even after the final decree couples have to deal with a lot of decisions that require cooperation. We set the tone in our mediations that reinforces the idea that a problem needs to be addressed early especially when someone is in distress.  When a person is having difficulty simply asking, “How can I help?” can be a way to start.

If you only reach out when something is wrong and don’t balance that with positive conversations, it will be difficult to communicate in a healthy way. Call just to share some good news. Sharing positive moments can make a difference.

This is a process that you are learning to manage and listening to each other can make things much easier for everybody.Your family can benefit from conversations that are open, and respectful and your relationships will improve as your family learns to feel more at ease.

If you have questions about Mediation please call the office and we will have a chat about your situation.

Amazon Fairness and Divorce, Oh My!

For anyone who can’t let go of that “Money=Happiness” thing, just read and be kind of glad that you don’t have so much money that God borrows from you.

The divorce fairness issue that Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos don’t have to worry about

https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/11/opinions/divorce-unfair-bezos-opinion-cohen/index.html

Change In Divorce Mediation for 2019

Change In Divorce Mediation for 2019 - Peace Talks Mediation Services - Divorce Mediation, Divorce, Divorce Mediation Laws Copyright: <a href="https://www.123rf.com/profile_wutwhan">wutwhan / 123RF Stock Photo</a>California Governor Jerry Brown has signed a new law that changes the California Evidence Code that requires attorneys representing clients in mediation to provide disclosures in writing about mediation confidentiality. The attorney must provide the disclosures to clients BEFORE the client agrees to participation in mediation, or AFTER if the client hires the attorney after agreeing to mediation. The law tells attorneys what this disclosure must say and how it must be formatted. The client must sign the disclosure form. The law went into effect on January 1, 2019.

This is a real example of why PeaceTalks maintains the teamwork dynamic and associations with litigators that save time and prevent worries about details being handled thoroughly and correctly throughout the process. We make sure that you are aware of exactly what needs to be done and by when as we offer access to advisors that we trust to provide information, guidance, and support.

Anytime there is a change in procedure or the introduction a new form we make sure that everything is handled in a timely manner and nothing catches you by surprise. If you have considered mediation to help with your divorce but you have questions more suited to a conversation, please call the office and we’ll find a time to talk.

Post Divorce Portfolio Balancing Act

Post Divorce Portfolio Balancing Act - Peace Talks Mediation Services - divorce, finances, investments, taxes, divorce mediation  credit: https://www.pe.com/2018/11/24/its-time-to-right-size-your-portfolio-here-are-some-tips-to-get-ready-before-2019/All investors review their investments annually, and in light of the market’s recent volatility, it would be wise to review your investments soon as the new tax laws may affect your strategies. “Rebalancing” may be in order if your portfolio’s asset allocation no longer meets your current long-term objectives.As always, you should consult with your tax preparer and financial advisor to ensure that whatever changes have occurred in your life are reflected in your fiduciary’s overall plan.

It’s easy to see why PeaceTalks relies on the teamwork dynamic of involving tax and investment specialists in all our mediations. From the start couples build individual strategies as the assets are divided until a settlement agreement is reached and they sign off to their mutual satisfaction. We refer people, when necessary, from our group of trusted associates and we work seamlessly with whomever a client trusts.

The following has been excerpted from and article in The Press-Enterprise by Terry Parker. Look over these ideas and see if something might aid you in your preparation and planning. If you have a question please contact the office anytime.

Tax-Loss Harvesting
Are you holding an investment that has lost value since it was purchased in your taxable portfolio? Intentionally selling this investment at a lost to reduce your tax liability is called tax-loss harvesting. The capital loss realized from this transaction can be used to offset capital gains, reducing your tax liability.

Give the Gift of Cash
Do you want to give a gift of cash? In 2018, you can give a gift of cash up to $15,000 to as many different people as you want without incurring the gift tax. The $15,000 is a per-person limit, not a total limit. Gifts up to this amount—called an annual exclusion—are not reportable on your tax return. A husband and wife can each make a $15,000 gift, giving as much as $30,000 to as many people as they choose each year.

Qualified Charitable Distributions
At the end of 2015, lawmakers approved a permanent measure allowing individuals who are 70½ years old or older to make qualified charitable distributions (also known as QCDs) directly from their individual retirement accounts (IRAs) to their favorite qualified charities.

Teri Parker is a vice president for CAPTRUST Financial Advisors.

Click here for link to full article

Should We Try Mediation?

The following was excerpted from an article in the Boston Herald by Wendy Hickey

Should We Try Mediation?

The answer is yes for most people. The majority of couples we see at PeaceTalks have enough common goals to negotiate an amicable and equitable settlement agreement.  Since most people will listen to a neutral third-party guide in more constructive ways, PeaceTalks’ lawyers team with therapists and financial advisors to help navigate some tough decisions for a quicker, peaceful settlement.

Here’s an example of the logic involved as part of why mediation is worth a try for most situations.

I asked my wife for a divorce six months ago. I don’t want a big fight, but we do have kids, and different incomes, so I understand there are some complexities.

She hired a lawyer but also wants to hire a mediator and have the lawyers review things when we agree. This seems like wasted money to me. Why hire both?

Mediation is always worth trying, provided there is no real power imbalance in the relationship. The process saves money, and brings you both to the table to talk about difficult things. Couples find a jointsolution, setting a precedentfor future disputes that might arise involving the children.

The mediator’s job is to help you reach an agreement. Most, if not all mediators recommend hiring counsel for advice during mediation. It is not overly expensive, and your lawyer will make sure you understand your rights and obligations so you are educated going into the mediation. It is easier to reach an agreement when you understand the law and expected norms.

Wendy O. Hickey has since 1994 been involved in and since 2003 been a trial lawyer who concentrates her practice on national and international family law.

Click here for full article

Take A Cell Holiday

Impossible as it sounds there are people that swear by this strategy, even for short bursts of time, to alleviate the insidious stress of constant interaction and relentless, shifting deadlines. These are two of the main irritants that we see at PeaceTalks that affect our clients.

Here are some great thoughts Catherine Price presents and I hope you get a kick out them, use or not, and pass along to friends and family in between the eggnog and the champagne. If you have a situation that involves a filing December deadline concern our office will let you know if we have an available resource that might be of assistance.

May you have all the safety and security of those dear to you to go along with all the laughs from the bad ties and sweaters and socks…oh my!

“As the whirlwind of the holidays descends, you may find yourself wishing that you could slow down time. Here’s the thing: You can.

You just need to put down your cellphone.

I first discovered this myself a few years ago when, as an experiment, my husband and I took a 24-hour break from all our screens starting at sundown Friday. Saturday morning we accomplished more by 11 a.m. than we’d normally get done in an entire day. We cooked. We talked. We cleaned. We read. I practiced guitar. We played with our daughter. I felt like I’d unlocked a time-stretching superpower that I hadn’t known I possessed.”

Read full piece here

Christmas Magic Before and After Divorce

There are some great points in this article (link below) that are very relevant to both children of the before group as well as those dealing annually with the “split family” holiday conflicts. I hope some of these insights come in handy no matter which side of the timeline you are on and I’m adding a story with a touch of real Christmas magic.  Enjoy!

An emotional tale of kindness has captured international attention as a father from Wales paid tribute to his late neighbor, Ken, in a Monday social media post. Owen Williams says that after his elderly neighbor died, Ken’s daughter delivered 14 wrapped presents. Those presents were from Ken and intended for Williams’ daughter. If she opened one per year, she could have a “present from Ken” until her 16th Christmas.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2018/12/18/dying-neighbor-leaves-child-14-years-christmas-presents/2359158002/

Vicki L. Shemin, J.D., LICSW, ACSW is a domestic relations attorney (specializing in mediation, collaborative law, divorce coaching, settlement negotiations and high-conflict cases) who never goes to court to resolve matters.

https://www.mediate.com/articles/shemin-magical-holidays.cfm#bio

“When it comes to children of divorce far too many of them the holidays mean split loyalties, guilt, sadness and regret.

It always strikes me that, for most children of divorce, the heartache attendant to the holidays is a yearly occurrence that stirs and reawakens abject wounds and unhealed scars. Even as children become adolescents and young adults who “vote with their feet,” the mere fact of making a holiday choice reawakens the old worries about “split loyalties” and “is it just easier to be with friends so my parents don’t think I am choosing between the two of them.”

Why split loyalties? Even if children have no choice as to where they are going to be for a holiday, the mere fact of being with one parent versus the other means making a difficult choice.

Why guilt? Children are acutely attuned to the fact that they are the identified cause of exasperation between their parents.

Why sadness? Psychologists know that children wonder how they can manage to have a joyous holiday with one parent while simultaneously longing to be with the other one.

Why regret? Many children of divorce feel that it is theirresponsibility to somehow change the dynamic between their parents while inevitably recognizing that they are really helpless to do so.

In the process of our mediations at PeaceTalks these issues are dealt with as we prepare couples and eventually their children for the coming transitions. Due to the changes in the tax laws for 2019 we have seen many former clients who are still following guideline that we set up with them years ago to help keep peace in the family, so to speak. Interestingly enough, the holiday schedule itself, can be the biggest ball to juggle. We start out talking with couples about this next question for the inevitable transportation kid shuttles and the author phrases this one nicely. Good luck dealing with logistics and if someone has a filing deadline problem we’ll see if we have an available asset for some assistance.

Consider typical holiday custody provisions – does it resemble more of a bus schedule or a child-centered schedule?

More Divorce Mediator Tips

Here’s a couple more tips from the article I saw by Oren Kaufmann on the Mediate.com website.

Don’t be penny wise and pound-foolish.

Imagine the following not so unusual scenario. You have resolved all the tough issues and for some reason these one or two remain “as a matter of principle“. It makes no sense financially to terminate mediation and turn it over to lawyers because you cannot resolve these issues. The financial and emotional costs are likely to be very high. Unfortunately, despite these dangers, I see people doing this repeatedly (or at least contemplating it). Remember that arguing over “principle” can be a very dangerous and expensive proposition costing what otherwise could have been investment “principal.”The ultimate agreement should be based on a rational financial analysis. The problem and challenge is that this isn’t just a business deal. There are multiple layers of emotions involved. If it is emotionally based- i.e. revenge, guilt, anger, fear- there will inevitably be problems down the road.

The PeaceTalks mediation sessions are always supported by whatever type of financial and psychological professionals the couple might request as most of the difficult negotiations center around assets and income accompanied by anger.

Find someone to talk with.

Having someone you trust that you can talk about this with is critical. It may be that you talk with one person about the financial and one person about the emotional. Remember to careful about not confusing support and a good sounding board with nonsense based on some incorrect legal information/advice they received from a relative or friend.

That aside, having someone with whom you can discuss the process is invaluable and PeaceTalks can refer therapists.

Oran Kaufman-runs Amherst Mediation Services in Amherst, MA and he is a former president of the Massachusetts Council on Family Mediation.
www.amherstmediators.com

Mediator Tips On Divorce Difficulties

There are a lot of commonalities with divorce and lessons from shared experiences can be extremely helpful when going through extremely stressful situations like divorce negotiations. Some great suggestions were offered by a mediation expert named Oran Kaufman in a series of articles for Mediate.com and I wanted to pass along these very cogent, and insightful pieces of advice to all, and to all a good night.

Give yourself all the time that you need, as hurried decisions are often bad decisions. Maybe you’re contemplating selling a house, buying a house, or which school will your children attend and so on. These are decisions the impact of which will be felt for a long time so take the time necessary to consider all the consequences.  Do your research. Consult with your lawyer, friends, accountants or anyone else who you trust to give you a rational perspective. 

 From the moment the decision is made to engage in mediation with PeaceTalks we start to help the couple form a plan that includes delineating all assets and the decision-based issues that require negotiation. Whenever necessary we provide access to a choice of legal, financial and emotional support professionals, all veterans of the divorce mediation process.

If you are already in court and you feel rushed by the court process, almost any judge I know will gladly give you more time and continue a pre-trial conference or status conference if the judge knows that you are actively engaged in mediation and the additional time will help reach an agreement.

The courts have been very supportive of the growing role that mediation is playing in settling divorce cases and we are very grateful for the cooperation that judges have extended to our clients, particularly this year with the crazy packed court calendars. If you get worried about making the December 31St deadline call the office for possible help with your filing.

Divorce is an anxiety producing process. It is particularly important during this process that you take care of yourself. By that I mean, take care of the basics: get sleep, eat, try and have some fun and exercise. All those things that are important when life is “normal” are doubly important when you are going through the stress of divorce.

PeaceTalks by location has nearby parks for walking, yoga, or just some quiet time before and/or after sitting down with us to get you closer to your settlement agreement. We also have health professionals for tips on diet and special types of exercise developed expressly for stress. All those things that are important when life is “normal” are doubly important when you are going through the stress of divorce.

Oran Kaufman runs Amherst Mediation Services in Amherst, MA and he is a former president of the Massachusetts Council on Family Mediation. www.amherstmediators.com

A Potential Tax Move For 2018 Divorce

As the commercial says “I’m not a tax advisor and I didn’t stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night…” but a piece by Dan Caplinger from The Motley Fool might have a useful idea for your situation. There’s a link at the end to the whole article.

Tax strategies is something that PeaceTalks always has addressed by at least one, if not more, professionals in all of mediation cases to ensure that both parties are able to optimize their assets after the settlement is reached.

There’s one big change that won’t hit taxpayers until the beginning of 2019. It won’t affect everyone, but for the many people in the U.S. who are divorced, changes in how alimony payments get taxed could have a huge financial impact, given the roughly $10 billion in such payments that get made every year. With divorces running between roughly 800,000 and 950,000 annually since 2000, there are millions of people who might be able to benefit from some last-minute tax planning — if they can cooperate effectively.

What the tax law did was to change this treatment starting in 2019. For those who get divorced in 2019 or later, all payments between divorced spouses will be treated identically. There’ll be no tax impact from any payment, meaning that the receiving spouse won’t have to include payments as income, and the paying spouse won’t get to deduct anything. That’s a whole lot simpler, and it solves some potential fraud issues. But it does remove a planning opportunity for divorced spouses who are willing to work with each other.

In particular, there are two situations in which it’ll be important for couples to act before the end of 2018. First, if you’re in the process of divorcing, the timing of the final divorce agreement will be crucial. Specify alimony payments and get divorced on or before Dec. 31, and you’ll have the option to effectively transfer taxable income from a spouse in a higher tax bracket to one in a lower tax bracket, saving on taxes overall. That in turn can make it possible for the paying spouse to make larger payments while still ending up ahead on an after-tax basis. On the other hand, if you wait until Jan. 1 to get divorced, that option won’t be available any longer.

Second, if you’re already divorced but the original agreement didn’t include an order for spousal support, the law is ambiguous about how a subsequent order would get treated. Those who already have a spousal support order by the end of 2018 can retain the current-law tax treatment even if that order is modified in or after 2019. But there’s at least some risk that a request for a first-time spousal support order would be treated as first having occurred in 2019 or later, taking away the option of having old-law tax treatment.

Finally, the new law does give divorced spouses who would prefer the new tax treatment to govern their pre-2019 divorce the option of agreeing to adopt the new rules. That’s not necessarily a time-critical issue, as this election can be made at any time. But if circumstances have changed and it makes sense to treat payments between divorced spouses as having no tax impact, it may be that the sooner you do so, the better.

As always, if you or a friend is in danger of missing the December 31st deadline, call the office and we’ll see if we have any available resources in our network that might help.

Click here to read full article

Divorce Mediation Misconceptions

I came across an article in Divorce Magazine by Susan E. Guthrie that echoed familiar misconceptions that we come across at PeaceTalks, as do many of our colleagues. Here are a few highlights and I’ve provided a link to the entire article, which makes some excellent points:

Almost any divorce case, or really any family law matter, is suitable for mediation and the parties can successfully resolve their issues without the great expense and emotional costs of litigating.”

“The most common misconception that I hear about divorce mediation it that it is onlysuitable for couples that are very amicable.In fact, mediation is also very well suited for helping high-conflict couples work through their differences and reach a reasonable solution.

It may be true that the couple is too emotional to sit down alone, so they work with their mediator, a neutral third party, trained to help them focus on the issues at hand and work together towards a resolution.

At PeaceTalks we team with a lawyer for the legal information, a financial forensicto work through and optimize the asset division, and a therapistto help manage the emotional stress that comes with high conflict cases.

Legal advice is going to be a necessary part of the process; the mediator does notreplace review and input from a lawyer.

All Mediators suggest using consulting lawyers at certain points during the process to enforce their third-party status.

Because the mediator must remain neutral, they cannot give either party advice specific to their individual best interests. Here, a consulting attorney, on a limited, as-needed basis, can provide that specific legal advice to help a party decide how to best move forward in the negotiations.When a draft Separation Agreement is prepared, it is advisable that both parties review that agreement with their own attorney before they sign it. The use of a consulting attorney will cost far less than full-scale divorce litigation representation and is well worth the expense to ensure that both parties are fully advised and supported.

PeaceTalks has a network of attorneys that we rely on whenever a client has a particular need for a specific resource.

Click here for link to full article

Taking Stock In Your Divorce

In light of the changes in the tax laws and the recent roller coaster volatility in the stock market it might be prudent to talk with your financial advisor about whatever investment assets are attached to your settlement agreement. You can also get feedback and updates related to other nest eggs that are not part of any divorce settlement, which is nevera bad idea.

The division of investment assets can be gnarly and painful so people are getting creative in settling these issues through trading, and exchanging their respective interestsin a mutually agreeable fashion. So identifying and getting a valuation, along with guidance, about your asset options will only aid you in making any changes before the December 31St deadline.

I’ve included some tips from veterans in this field that echo ideas that we’ve heard in our discussions at PeaceTalks with our financial associates.

Splitting Retirement Accounts

To understand the value of a retirement account, you need to know how withdrawals will be taxed. In general, there are 2 main types of retirement accounts: traditional and Roth.

In a traditional account, contributions are made before taxes—or you get a tax deduction for the amount contributed if it has already been taxed. Contributions to a Roth account are made after taxes are paid but the benefit is that withdrawals of earnings and contributions in retirement are not taxed.1

Bottom line: $100,000 currently in a Roth is worth more than $100,000 currently in a traditional retirement account simply because of the different tax treatments in each type of account.

Taxable Investment Accounts

When it comes to taxable investments, it’s not about the value you see on your statement, but what you get to keep after taxes.

In general, when dividing investments in a divorce, couples may have options: One option would be to sell investments and divvy up the proceeds. This can have tax consequences. Alternatively, you can generally split the investment holdings. For instance, if 100 shares of stock are part of the marital property to be divided in half, one party gets 50 shares and the other party gets the remaining 50 shares. The IRS allows divorcing spouses to each keep the same cost basis and holding period for an investment they already own. Cost basis is the price at which the investment was originally purchased. Holding period is important because profits from the sale of investments owned for a year or less are taxed at your ordinary income tax rate, while investments held for more than a year are taxed at lower long-term capital gains rates.

Assuming your investment has appreciated, you will end up with less than the sale price—because you have to pay taxes on any gains over the cost basis. Exactly how much will depend on your tax rate, holding period, and cost basis, which can vary for a single investment if you bought shares over time. So, if you’re dividing investments equally, it’s important that the cost basis is divided equally as well—your financial institution or Fidelity representative should be able to help with that.

Of course, other important things to think about with regard to investments are the future prospects for growth or income, your own tolerance for investment risk, your financial needs, and your timeframe for investing.

Tax Consequences of Investment Asset Allocation

In addition, periods of market volatility stand to impact capital gains and losses generated from investment assets. The former can create a tax liability (e.g. where a holding is sold for more than its purchase price), whereas generally speaking the latter results in an asset (e.g. where a stock’s sales price is less than its purchase price, thus creating an offset against present or future capital gains).

In high net worth divorce cases often involving millions of dollars of investment assets subject to substantial market gains and losses, it is important in periods of market volatility to recognize that certain holdings may carry positive or negative tax consequences to the litigants. In these circumstances, it is good practice to consult with financial advisors and accountants at even this micro level of asset allocation to ensure that assets and liabilities are being apportioned and allocated as the litigants contemplated, and to avoid an unintended result of one spouse being allocated a vastly disproportionate share of capital gains or losses.

Creative Not Clueless Divorce

Christopher Jarecki and Alicia Silverstone

Besides the slight “Dog Bites Man” slant to another celebrity divorce, with the wife paying alimony, I want to highlight another example of the kind of “creative agreements” that PeaceTalks encourages in our mediation strategies.

Alicia Silverstone to Pay Ex Spousal Support

by Brian Hood, Page Six

As part of the couple’s divorce agreement, the “Clueless” star will pay Chris Jarecki $12,000 per month in spousal support, reports TMZ.

But the website adds that the couple agreed to a “cohabitation”clause that could end the payments earlier than expected.

If Jarecki lives with someone for five months within a one-year period, Silverstone, 42, is off the hook for the payments. Normally, one pays spousal support until their ex is married again.

The couple also agreed to share legal and physical custody of 7-year-old son Bear Blu.

At 12K a month it’s easy to see why this kind of insurance would be important to the paying former spouse. While it’s not always possible to find or create the perfect agreement, amazing things are possible if you come to the table with an open mind.

Full article here

Overstaying In A Bad Marriage

I came across this article and recognized some of the dynamics as themes that we see at PeaceTalks on a regular and all too frequent basis. It sometimes helps if an idea about an important decision process comes from a third party so feel free to share this with anyone.

Why You Stayed in That Unhappy
Relationship for Too Long

By Ian Kerner, CNN

Recent studies suggest that people stay in unsatisfying relationships because they’re concerned about hurting their partner’s feelings.

“In my experience, there are most often underlying fears and insecurities that prevent people from moving forward into a life that might be less comfortable but ultimately happier and more authentic. These couples tend to settle into a ‘good enough’ relationship,” sex therapist Holly Richmond said. “But there is almost always a point where it’s obvious that not good enough is truly not good enough, and it causes more harm to the unhappy person to stay than it would to their partner if they left.”

Concerns about children, finances, friends, lifestyle and standing in the community can also influence the decision to stay together. “In my practice, I see clients who stay in relationships because they’re worried they won’t find another partner, while others remain because they don’t want to deprive their children from having the other parent in their day-to-day life,” sex therapist Sari Cooper said.

But staying in an unhappy relationship doesn’t do anyone any favors, sex therapist Kristen Lilla said. “Staying because you don’t want to hurt someone else is selfish because it takes away the other person’s agency to make a decision,” she explained. “You are deciding that your partner will not be OK without you, so you stay with them out of pity.”

These are a few examples of why we make sure that anyone that comes to PeaceTalks has access to a behavioral health professional in case a “need to talk to someone” situation needs some support. We understand the process that determines the decision and your first call might need to be to someone other than a lawyer in order to make an informed decision.

Here is a link to the entire article

Celebrity Divorces and Mediation

I came across an article by Jill Stanley, who covers celebrity legal stories, as to why some celebrities choose mediation for their divorce process. Using some couples from Malibu as a general backdrop she covers a few of these reasons that really can apply to any amicable couple looking to avoid costly litigation. PeaceTalks has handled agreements for celebrities and they have the same goals and speed bumps and are just as appreciative after filing their agreement as regular couples. You might be hearing some stories at Thanksgiving that present an opportunity to pass along the idea to the right people.

Mediation is quicker and less expensive than full-blown litigation.
LA power lawyers are pricey, charging their celeb clients upwards of $750.00 per hour. Even stars with a net worth in the hundreds of millions of dollars don’t want to throw out money. So while clients generally have lawyers throughout mediation, the process is much, much quicker than traditional litigation thanks to less stringent rules regarding documentation, evidence and testimony. This quicker process means that not only do parties save money, but they also reduce the pain and stress on the family. It is well known that Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck turned to mediation in order to keep their children’s best interests as top priority when the couple opted for mediation when working out visitation, custody and other matters related to their three children.

(PeaceTalks has a relationship with a group of lawyers that assist in the mediation process on an as-needed basis.)

Mediation is Private.
Divorce is messy for everyone but with celebrities these matters often involve salacious tales of drugs, cheating, bad judgment, and, not to mention, disclosures of financial details. So, it is no surprise these clients, perhaps more than average Joes and Janes, want to keep these matters private. Celebrity couples going through a divorce can harness some sense of security by knowing that mediation is confidential and that by staying out of court their family’s private life remains just that–private. Though other factors were at play, it is thanks to the confidentiality of mediation that the details of Tom Cruise’s three divorces are nowhere to be found. Without that, imagine the details and drama about Mimi, Nicole and Katie’s lives that would be out there in the public domain.

(PeaceTalks works under a basis of complete confidentiality)

Mediation offers a distinct path to settlement.
The goal of mediation is to settle amicably. Trace and Rhonda Atkins divorce is a great example of how mediation can coax a settlement. Their divorce, stemming from Trace’s years of boozing and womanizing began intensely with Rhonda demanding a settlement worth nearly $20 million. But instead of engaging in an aggressive, drawn out legal battle, she soon sought dismissal of the case, and the couple proceeded with mediation. A private compromise was reached and family was spared further trauma and exposure along with a quicker path to a mutually agreeable settlement.

(This is exactly the path PeaceTalks follows with every couple)

Link to article here

Quotes From Divorce Veterans

There was an article in the Sunday LA Times by Ben Steverman of Bloomberg News with some very clear advice from some divorce professionals that have been doing this for a long time.

His article was written before the fires started devastating the lives of thousands of our fellow Californians. PeaceTalks and every other mediation group I know of will help with emergency paperwork in concert with any attorneys to get something in place by December 31St. Everyone will do their bit. Good luck.

When a rich couple splits, divorce attorney Lowell Sucherman gets blunt:

“Look, I’ve been doing this for 50 years,” he says early in the negotiations. “I know how this case is going to come out within a few dollars.” Find a fair way to settle quickly, he says, and you can save enough in legal fees to send your kid to college. Or you can fight tooth and nail, he adds, “and I’ll send my grandchildren to college.” His warnings work only some of the time.

 Michael Stutman, a partner at Stutman, Stutman & Lichtenstein in Manhattan, said he’s seeing more feuding couples open to negotiation as the alimony deduction deadline looms.

“When you’ve got people pretty close to an agreement, the specter of losing that benefit is pushing people together.”

Stutman is handling a divorce for a real estate mogul, and it’s taking a long time for two skilled forensic accountants to untangle the family’s holdings. The couple is “beside themselves” with how long it’s taking, he said.

Peter Walzer of Walzer Melcher, a law firm in Los Angeles. said:

“Still, there may be a workaround. If a settlement agreement, which often includes alimony terms, is reached by the end of this year, many divorce lawyers said, that would probably be sufficient to still get the alimony tax break. But that isn’t airtight, and there could be issues if the agreement is altered in the future.”

Chris Chen of Insight Financial Strategists, a firm specializing in post-divorce financial planning said:

“The difference between getting a divorce finalized this year and waiting until later is significant, especially among people with high incomes.

A chief executive living in New York City who is divorcing a stay-at-home mom would pay about $35,000 in child support for their two young kids. If he makes $1 million a year and agrees to pay her $360,000 in alimony, the 2019 rule change could cost them about $23,000 annually in higher taxes, according to an analysis by Chris Chen of Insight Financial Strategists, a firm specializing in post-divorce financial planning.”

The alimony change puts even more year-end pressure on divorce lawyers, judges and clerks. It’s not clear whether courthouses will be able to handle the extra crush of paperwork.

“They’re going to have a hard time processing all these judgments” said Peter Walzer.

Just to be safe, lawyers are getting paperwork in as soon as possible.

Link to full article here

What to Ask the Mediator

For people screening referrals they have received to mediation services some questions are best dealt with at the very beginning of the process. Even couples that may have already made a choice often benefit from getting some issues settled before the start of actual preparation and negotiation.

Is the first consultation free?
PeaceTalks does not charge for an initial session. We think of it as an opportunity for the clients to feel sure they will be comfortable with us as the mediator and for PeaceTalks to make sure that the case is appropriate for the mediation services we offer.

How Long Will The Whole Thing Take?
Most mediation cases are finalized within six months. There are different schedules reflecting the number of issues involved, mainly custody and support especially when there are children involved. After sitting and talking for about forty-five minutes we can usually project a likely outside completion date.

How much will it cost? Is a retainer involved or installments?
We will be able to narrow down a cost for you at our initial meeting and PeaceTalks has found that a lot of potential clients are struggling financially.  Many clients come to us already in debt and now having two households is an additional burden. We find that having clients pay as they go helps to keep them in control of the cost.

When you’re ready to talk give us a call and we’ll find a convenient time for the rest of your questions.

Co-Parenting Before and After Divorce

From the time that the emotional separation begins on the path to a divorce there will be transition period while still sharing the house and marking the beginning of the co-parenting puzzle maze.

Professionals reiterate that that with the right effort, on both parts, this transition can be smoother and less disruptive to the kids. Setting up and following the same mutually agreed upon guidelines that will eventually be in place after the divorce is finalized can help. Here are a few suggestions that have common threads from all advisors about making the co-parenting process a supportive one from the real start of the emotional separation through to a new life after the settlement.

The first signs of the end of a marriage unleash anger, anxiety and fear. This is normal, and these feelings will subside. In the meantime be good to yourself. Research suggests that people taking care of their own emotional needs have an easier time managing the day-to-day difficulties of divorce.

It’s not a battle. Divorce mediation is often a better alternative to litigation and spending time in court. Research shows that mediation can be beneficial for emotional satisfaction, spousal relationships and children’s needs.

Talking with your soon-to-be-ex-spouse may be the last thing you want to do, but communication makes divorce healthier and easier for everyone involved. Wait until you’re feeling calm and write down the points you want to discuss. Use the list as your guide. It helps take the emotion out of face-to-face confrontations. . We suggest listening and presenting requests for the future instead of trying to find the blame or what went wrong in the relationship.

Parents can ease the child’s transition by keeping conflict away from the kids. Parental conflict increases the risk of psychological problems for kids. Come up with a mutually agreed upon plan and present it to the children together and keep the lines of communication open. Kids benefit from having conversations about the changes their family is experiencing.Kids also do better when they maintain close contact with both parents.

Tap into your support network, turning to family and friends for assistance and comfort.

Formal support groups can also help you cope with the many emotions of a marriage ending.

You may benefit from speaking to a psychologist to help deal with their emotions and adjust to the changes. Psychologists can also help you think carefully about what went wrong in your marriage so you can heal and avoid repeating any negative patterns in your next relationship.

If you think it’s time to talk to someone please contact my office and we’ll explore your options.

Divorce Last Minute Loophole

For anyone that is still facing the December 31 deadline for filing here’s some possible relief from some of that anxiety.

A lot of people have come to Peace Talks worried, in part, about the alimony change in the new tax laws and what they have to do by December 31 to maximize their benefits going into 2019. There may be a way to avoid spoiling your holidays by having to deal with a mountain of paperwork. It’s not for everybody but it may work for you and Peace Talks can help you determine if it’s the right option for you.

These are some highlights from an article by John Fiske a veteran with 30 years of mediation experience. You’ll need to consult someone to verify that this strategy could work for you and at Peace Talks this is part of what we do every day.

“We can only imagine the conversations we will be having in December with clients who call us looking for a divorce and learn they have less than a month to write a separation agreement if they want to preserve the ability of the payer of alimony to exclude the payments from his or her taxable income.  

What if we could write a simple “placeholder” Separation Agreement to be executed before the end of this December, wherein one or both spouses agree to pay a defined amount a month to the other as alimony subject to an agreement of modification which defines all the terms of their divorce, including the alimony agreement, in a Separation Agreement to be filed in court in 2019 for approval?”

“Section 11051 of the TCAJA reads as follows: The amendments made by this section shall apply to any divorce or separation instrument executed on or before such date and modified after such date if the modification expressly provides that the amendments made by this section apply to such modification.”

“Since Section 11051 states that any divorce or separation instrument executed before December 31, 2018 is not affected by TCAJA and such an Agreement may be modified after that date, all that is needed is the signed Separation Agreement.”

“So the clear language of TCAJA does not require court approval or a divorce filing in court before December 31, 2018 if you have a written separation agreement that preserves the alimony exclusion. This step appears to satisfy the federal statute and gives people time to work out a sensible Separation Agreement without ruining their holidays.

Based on this analysis I will be suggesting to my mediating clients that if they want to have taxable and excludable alimony in their Agreement they consider writing a simple divorce or separation”

“You should sleep better knowing that you need not take away any remaining holiday spirit and activities in order to rush to sign more than a Separation Agreement before the end of 2018.”

Read the entire article here

Early Thanksgiving on Election Day?

I’m encouraging everybody here at PeaceTalks and in our extended family and social circle to keep in touch on Election Day and into the night. If things go well it will be a rare chance for even divorced couples to “reach across the aisle” and show the kids what cooperation and unity of purpose can accomplish. If things go “south”then we get to experience that “misery loves company” thing.

After you’ve voted if you’d like to do something for the victims of the massacre at the Pittsburgh synagogue I’ve provided a link below along with a quote from the sponsors of the fund.

This is a brilliant example of the way that most people feel in this country and a perfect rebuke to the “fear mongering” coming from the White House. The fact that this gesture is coming from the Muslim communityproves that the spirit of this country is as alive as it always has been no matter what trumped up lies are conjured up to divide us. Let the kids see, learn and encourage one another to pay attention, vote and avoid complacency like the plague.

Muslim Groups Raise Thousands for Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting Victims

 MUSLIMS: Let us stand with our Jewish cousins against this senseless, anti-Semitic murder. Guided by our faith, @CelebrateMercy & @MPower_Changeask you respond to evil with good. Donate here now to help shooting victims with funeral expenses and medical bills.

Divorce and IRA’s – Watch Your Assets

Understanding different types of retirement assets, and the costs and taxes associated with each, when liquidated, can help you make informed decisions. Always consult with your financial and tax advisors during the decision making process especially before a liquidation.

To help ensure that you reach an agreement that is equitable to both of you, it’s important to know what you have now and understand how your agreement could impact your income, and lifestyle years after the divorce. You can’t direct the investment process for social security but you should be overseeing and getting advice about your IRA’s.

To understand their value, you need to know how withdrawals will be taxed from both traditional and Roth accounts. In a traditional account, contributions are made before taxes, so you get a tax deduction for the amount contributed if it has already been taxed. Contributions to a Roth account are made after taxes are paid but withdrawals of earnings and contributions in retirement are not taxed. We, of course, might see more changes to the tax code.

As an example, right now, $100,000 currently in a Roth account is worth more than $100,000 currently in a traditional retirement account simply because of the different tax treatments in each type of account.

This can be really complicated, especially when you have to deal with corporate 401K accounts. If this is something that needs attention in the life of your family and you need a suggestion please call the office and we’ll be happy to talk with you about some professionals we trust.

Money, Debt and Divorce

Dividing Debts in Divorce

One of the bad surprises that we see in the divorce process is the amount of money that is owed by both parties as individuals, and as a couple. This can be gnarly and painful and needs professional help to ensure accuracy. A person’s responsibility for any debt the couple has incurred during their marriage can only be properly addressed when you know how much you owe and to whom.

At PeaceTalks we suggest you order your credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Your credit report will reveal what is owed including joint accounts with your spouse.

Once you identify which debts are shared and which are in your nameonly, you need to prevent them from growing any larger while you’re getting divorced. It’s best to cancel shared accounts leaving one card in your name in case of emergencies.

Now it’s time to decide who will be responsible for what debt. Here are a couple of examples of strategies that PeaceTalks suggests for dealing with debt in a divorce.

If you have assets you can sell, pay off the debts now.  You won’t have to worry about his/her portion of the debt, and you can start again, debt-free.

One can also exchange an equitable amount of debt for assets from the division of your property. This is another example of where mediation can be a much faster and less expensive process for reaching a satisfactory agreement.

If you think you might have overlooked something in preparing for your divorce please contact the office with your question.

Divorce TV Style

Sarah Jessica Parker in “Divorce.” Photo courtesy of HBO

I get a kick out of how many people come to Peace Talks and talk about their divorce concerns and situations referencing plot lines from television shows. Being in Los Angeles that makes sense even though it may have nothing to do with the reality outside the studio walls.

The messages we get from television about families and relationships actually do hit a nerve when it gets realand familiar.

One show recently portrayed the wife of the main character leaving him and taking the kids. This is not an unheard of scenario even in mediation, but it does send the message that some things need to be addressed in marriage sooner rather than later.

How to address the underlying problems that caused the divorce is dealt with in another T.V. Show “Divorce” with Sarah Jessica Parker.

As Carrie Bradshaw on Sex And The City, she helped change the perception of single women on television. Her comedy series in which she plays a woman going through a messy break-up, hopes to do the same for divorced women as well as men. The message here seems to be an echo of many divorce specialists’ words of wisdom about identifying and accepting responsibility for adjustable negative behavior. Her character, Frances, has finalized her divorce and is now contemplating the next chapter of her life, including dating again and launching her own business, but it dawns on her that simply being rid of a broken marriage will not solve everything.

If you think you might need to talk please contact us and we’ll find some time and make some suggestions about additional resources.

Divorce Lawyer Secrets

Peace Talks, by definition, gives people the opportunity to talk about everything that is relevant to reaching an amicable agreement. This applies, as well, to all the legal advisors that come to our mediation table. We get to listen to the perspective of the lawyer in many different types of divorce situations representing a wide range of individual styles. Many of these lawyers have shared personal “secrets” about advice they offer, and techniques they employ, that help ensure the best results for a client. If anything you see provokes a question about your situation please contact the office to find a time to talk that is mutually convenient.

“Don’t think assets in your name can’t be claimed by your spouse in a divorce. “Almost all assets are divisible, including airline miles.”

“It’s going to cost more money”. More often than not, the costs will often be higher than your lawyer’s original estimate.

Contested divorces cost anywhere from $15,000 to $30,000, which is the primary reason for the suggestion of mediation.

“Solo practitioners may not be able to give you the level of attention you need from your lawyer and costs may compel you to live very frugally, necessitating some dramatic cuts in expenditures”

While it is dispiriting, to “downsize” it’s better totemporarily cut corners in your lifestyle than miss opportunities in getting a faster, favorable outcome.

“Lawyer fees may be negotiable.” This doesn’t mean an attorney will always be willing to lower their fees, but for mediation cases there is usually a different fee schedule.

“If your divorce is uncontested, then you may be able to perform several parts of it on your own.” This means that you and your spouse agree on child custody, spousal support, child support, visitation, and division of property. This would be the ideal circumstance for mediation.

“You may still decide to retain an attorney, but their role will be limited to the navigation of court procedures.” The mediation team handles the paperwork to save time and money.

“An initial retainer fee does not equate to the actual cost of handling a divorce matter”. It is only an advance on work undertaken by the attorney and does not represent the thirty thousand dollar threshold reached by most divorce cases.

“That you should meet with multiple attorneys”

One secret your divorce lawyer doesn’t want you to know is that it is extremely beneficial to have multiple consultations. As with all partnerships it has to be a good fit and you have to sit down with someone to decide that for yourself. We have introduced many clients to people they eventually selected for representation.

Co-Parenting: Your Own Way Is Best

Fortunately, most of the couples we see at Peace Talks are already focused on the common goal of an amicable agreement, the only choice that is always best for the children. One of the first things we do is help set up a structure for times and places and the necessary exchanges to be performed. There is still always work to be done as far as all the holidays, and vacations, that are in addition to the day-to-day coordination of school or day care handoffs. In order to solve just this part of the “Rubik’s Divorce Cube” it takes cooperation and patience, never mind the inevitable emotional twists that come with raising children in a house divided.

We see what has worked for some couples trying to do the right thing for the kids and hopefully, in our mediations, pass along those learned experiences. There are strong similarities in the suggestions and examples that experts point to in describing various positive co-parenting tools but it all seems to point towards findingyour own style. What works for you and your kids will always be best for the family.

Parents can usually sort out whatever comes up when they work as a team. When Flexibility, Consistency, Courtesy and Consideration are shown by both parents it creates a safer environment for resilient development on the part of the children. It also works to prevent playing one parent against the other, an almost “goes without saying”for nearly all children of divorce.

Divorce Counseling is something that many couples have discovered as a helpful tool that also incorporates a team approach which, in turn, reinforces that sense of consistency.They find this sort of counseling helpful as it gives them a place where it is ok to talk, for the sake of the children, without the influence of the children”

One thing that isn’t often talked about, but it’s more important than parents may realize. When you’ve dropped your kids off with your ex, it means you have something few parents ever do: free time.This is the time to go out with friends or take in a grown-up movie. Taking some personal time can help you be the best parent possible for your kids.

Keeping sometraditions after the divorce takes work but it all seems to help everybody at some level. As we move into the holiday season if you have some questions about what may help your situation please give the office a call.

Divorce – Ready or Not?

Recently, I’ve been encountering a lot of feedback related to people “rushing” to a divorce, before being informed, as to what needs to be done ahead of time. Here are some of the recurring themes that many therapists and advisors caution about when facing this decision. At Peace Talks we offer discernment counseling to help you decide whether to get divorced. We believe the most important agreement is HOW you go through the process and we offer a free orientation to learn all the options.

Most couples starting a divorce are unprepared and this lack of preparedness can cause a marriage to end prematurely or deteriorate into a competition.

Pondering divorce for a long time before acting on it buys into the false belief that they’ve thought about it thoroughly and are ready.

There is a natural tendency for people to want to get the divorce over with as quickly as possible in order to move on with their lives.

 At Peace Talks, as with all mediation specialists, one of our first considerations is finding the proper guide to help deal with the inevitable stress and emotional difficulties to come. The right professional help with the intangibles is at leastas important as the financials. Having someone who’s objective and experienced advising you through these difficulties can be invaluable. It’s all too easy for anger to take control without a co-pilot.

Once you feel after you have sought professional help for a few months and accepted your own responsibility, that a divorce is the right choice, thenmake a plan. Many therapists are suggesting mediation instead of litigation when appropriate to spare the patient money and pain. For people that come to us from a lawyer or financial advisor we have a group of therapists listed on our website.

If you’d like to ask some questions about your situation please contact the office anytime.

Common Questions About Divorce

Here are a few of the questions that come up most often when people are their evaluating their options in relation to the divorce process. If you have some questions about your own situation please contact the office anytime.

How can I avoid going to court?
If you use a mediation service the court will be provided with what is known as a stipulated judgment, and you never have to appear before a judge. At Peace Talks we use a service to hand deliver all court paperwork to the court.

Does Divorce Mean We Have to Sell the House(s) or Can We Still Own Property Together?
In mediation the parties are free to decide between themselves how they wish to dispose of marital assets. Parties who were once married can continue to own property together as single people. Just the same way that people who were never married can own property together as “partners”. In mediation we will discuss how to continue to co-own.

How Much Dpousal Support Do I Get?
Spousal support is not based on a formula. Spousal support is the result of the careful weighing of the factors set forth in family code §4320. What happens in mediation is that the parties negotiate together so that in light of the applicable resources, income/expenses and needs, a workable, mutually agreeable, solution is arrived at. At Peace Talks we use divorce financial planning software to help you optimize your financial situation.

Can We Provide for Shared Custody of Our Pets?
Yes, although courts of law are traditionally reluctant to get involved in “custody battles” involving animals, parties in mediation are free to make any agreements they choose and that agreement will become the order of the court.
(Note that CA Gov. Jerry Brown just signed Assembly Bill 2274 that affects this process in the court system.)

 

New Tax Law Prompting Flood of Accelerated Divorces

New tax law prompting flood of accelerated divorces as Dec. 31 deadline looms

David Garrick, The San Diego Union-Tribune

The term “accelerated divorces” got my attention yesterday when an edited version of this article appeared in the Los Angeles Times. The indications, from 2018 first-half data, are that there may be even more of a scheduling problem than was anticipated.

Attorneys and judges are scrambling to finalize a flood of accelerated divorces prompted by new federal tax laws that eliminate the spousal support deduction starting Jan. 1.”

Even if your situation does not involve spousal support, you may be affected, as that mutual benefit prompted a rush of divorce filings before June 30, because a divorce can’t be finalized in California until at least six months after proceedings begin. In response, San Diego Superior Court officials say they expect an increase in divorce cases, and have begun clearing a backlog of judgments so they will be ready.

The article doesn’t go into mediation but one time that it can come in handy is when a quickagreement is necessary:

“There is also a caveat to the Dec. 31 deadline to finalize divorces. Through a process called bifurcation, a couple can agree on the spousal support portion of the settlement and get it approved by a judge even if other parts of the divorce remain unsettled.”

The article is worth a read and if you are concerned about something please contact us and we’ll tell you if there’s any way we can be of help.

Link to full article here

Divorce Does Not Equal Failure

Divorce isn’t a failure, therapists say. In fact, it could mean the marriage was a success.

The overwhelming feeling of failureis almost impossible to avoid when divorce becomes a reality. We see this even in mediation where both parties are in agreement and it is, of course, worse for those in long litigations. The difficulties that accompany this feeling can lead to more uncertainty in making important valuations and decisions during the process.

This interview with Hal Runkel, a marriage and family therapist, makes some excellent points about shaping a positive viewpoint on the situation. What makes mediation different is the choice to “take control” of the process instead of leaving it up to a third party.

Here are a few key ideas from the interview:

“Marriage, he told me, ” is perfectly designed to help you grow up. It challenges your blind spots.”

 Marriage will expose your selfishness.

What sometimes happens is that one or both partners change so drastically that they come to the realization that their marriage isn’t helping them live the life they want.

Making a mature decision in that direction may be the best outcome of all.

Shana Lebowitz Senior Reporter, Strategy (Business Insider)

Link to full article here

Stress Rehearsal

Every now and then even a “general” survey can be of use for a “specific” purpose. Dr. Grande highlights four common stress sources, from the Harris Interactive survey, for couples today and two of them are about sex. The other two are about money, (surprise! surprise!), making it and spending it. There is no delineation made as to whether a divorce was involved, by either partner, but the issues transcend marital history, as stress is a problem before and after separation of any kind.

For example, the issue with what can go wrong when you can’t leave the work-related stress behind before you hit the front door is universal.

The suggestion she makes about de-stressing during the commute is one I’ve heard from professionals echoing the mantra of simply turning off the phone for at least thirty minutes prior to your arrival. Good luck with that.

There are no simple fixes for complicated matters but be assured that noprogress will happen without a dialogue. If meeting with someone is not possible then look into an online consultation so that you can explore all your options.

If you need some help contact my office anytime.

The Top 4 Stressors for Couples Today
A recent survey identifies the most common problems.
by Dianne Grande Ph.D.

1. Work-related stress was identified as a key factor in relationship conflicts by 35 percent of the respondents.
“Depending upon the type of commute you have, you may even be able to de-stress on your way home.”
2. Being too tired for sex was identified as a key factor by 33 percent of those who completed the interview.
“You can plan times when you are least likely to be tired.”
3. Low sex drive was identified by 28 percent of respondents as a key cause of stress in their relationship.
“One common underlying problem may be a negative body image-shift your thoughts and focus on what you like about yourself, rather than the flaws you perceive.”
4. Arguments about money were identified by 27 percent of the respondents as key to their distress as a couple.
“It is far healthier to equalize power than to use money in order to assert control over a partner.”

Read the full article from Psychology Today here

Thanksgiving Briefer?

A lot of us will start booking planes, trains and medications in preparation for November 22 when we get reminded that we all were once, literally in the same boat(s), so to speak.

There have been a lot of stories about divided family gatherings back in November 2016 and now coming full circle to Thanksgiving 2018.

Of course given recent events there are reasons to believe that there will less vitriol from fewer people as most people now agree that the emperor has clothes but no clue. Still there will some differences of opinionand it will be to experience family disagreementwithout disengagement.

A friend sent me a piece from The Scientific American by Lydia Denworth that very nicely juxtaposes the atmosphere at the turkey dinnertable in 1976 with 2016. Maybe something in the piece will come in handy in avoiding discomfortor frustration before it really kicks into gear. In her words:

“Mixing family and politics has always been fraught. I know—my mother was a Democrat, my father a Republican. The night Jimmy Carter won the presidency, dad slept in the guest room. For the U.S., the bitter campaign that ushered in Pres. Donald Trump in 2016 was a lot like that of 1976 in my house. Many families were politically divided, and the calendar forced the issue: The cherished American holiday Thanksgiving came just days after the election.

Anecdotal reports suggest family feasts that year were less festive than usual, with many Americans struggling to sit across the table from relatives whom they knew had voted for a candidate they loathed. Now there is hard data showing political polarization caused quite a few people to skip the pie. A new study published this week in Science reveals families with mixed politics spent 20 to 50 minutes fewer at the table than politically like-minded groups.

Even the amount of the difference was partisan: Republicans left earlier than Democrats (some by more than an hour); Democrats were more likely not to go at all. The effect was three times stronger in areas with heavy political advertising. Overall, partisan differences cost Americans 73.6 million person-hours of family time that Thanksgiving, the study says.”

To read the full arycile click here

Some Co-Parenting Needs an Assist

One of the most frustrating constants we see in Divorce Mediation is that a surprising percentage of the children involved will have adjustment issues that will need to be addressed by a an outside specialist. It’s a difficult decision point to face as I can bear witness to in my own life.

Now matter how amiable the atmosphere may be, somekids are going to have a tough time with the divorce and its personal consequences.  These conflicts will continue so the tone that is set will be important in the years, and with the adjustments, to come as situations change.

The therapists I work with emphasize the importance of not hesitating to make a call, explore situational options, and talk to someone. It’s only through a dialogue that you will find the right person for your child and for you. Your insurance will dictate your institutional choices but there may be private avenues to explore that are accessible through personal connections.

If you’d like some suggestions for yourself or a friend contact my office about some associate referrals.

Divorce-A Coach Might Help

At Peace Talks we have been doing a lot of “coaching” with the overwhelming process of divorce, from divorcing parents and premaritals as well as legal and psychological practitioners.

Here’s a description of “Divorce Coaching” from the American Bar Association:

“Divorce coaching is a flexible, goal-oriented process designed to support, motivate, and guide people going through divorce to help them make the best possible decisions for their future, based on their particular interests, needs, and concerns. Divorce coaches have different professional backgrounds and are selected based on the specific needs of the clients.  For example, some divorce coaches are financial planners, mental health professionals, lawyers, or mediators who have experience dealing with divorcing clients.”

Here’s some additional feedback about the potential value of a coach from an attorney:

“I love them, and if I had my way, I’d never work without them,” says Brigitte Bell, a Chicago divorce attorney. “They help manage the clients and support them by bringing a different set of skills to the divorce process than we do.”

If you want to explore the “Divorce Coach” idea to see if it’s something you want to pursue, whether as a potential client or certified practitioner please contact me.

 

Divorce And Suicide – All Too Related

by Stephanie Maloney

Divorce And Suicide – All Too Related - Divorce Mediation - Los AngelesEven if you don’t shop for “Designer” fashions there’s a good chance the name “Kate Spade” is one you’ve seen somewhere before her recent suicide.

Suicide is still near the top of the list of tough subjects to discuss with the kids. Trying to find the “middle ground” for co-parenting on almost anything can be difficult but explaining “choosing to die” would be tough even for “Papa Freud”. We can only imagine what it’s like for the families that have gone through it and keep talking with each other to keep issues from festering into a toxic situation.

There are several pieces that I recommend for ideas and perspectives about this haunting subject:

NY Times by Vanessa Friedman 

The husband, Andy Spade, said there were no plans to divorce. Mr. Spade was speaking publicly for the first time since her death was announced on Tuesday.

“We were in touch with her the night before and she sounded happy. There was no indication and no warning that she would do this. It was a complete shock.


CICERO ESTRELLA

MERCURY NEWS | June 6, 2018, 11:59AM

Kate and Andy Spade were having marital difficulties before she died of an apparent suicide by hanging, according to a number of reports.

“Kate and Andy were having relationship problems,” according to a source who spoke with People.

Law enforcement sources told TMZ that Spade was depressed in the last days of her life because her husband wanted a divorce, and she didn’t want to end the marriage. Andy Spade also wasn’t living in the home, but in a nearby apartment.


Divorceinfo.com

Helping real people move through divorce

Suicide and Divorce

I’ve got bad news for you about suicide. One recent study by the National Institute for Healthcare Research in Rockville, MD indicates that divorced people are three times as likely to commit suicide as people who are married. The Institute says that divorce now ranks as the number one factor linked with suicide rates in major U.S. cities, ranking above all other physical, financial, and psychological factors.

Will “Calendar Crush” Push “Hybrid Settlement”?

by Stephanie Maloney

If you are getting a divorce before the end of 2018 you should be aware of the 30th of June as the final day to file your paperwork. 

If however, you need to finalize or amend your current settlement agreement then early October is when the clerks need your paperwork to review. That’s very important to a lot of people because of the uncertainty created by the changes to the tax laws added to the fact that we are looking at the start of summer vacation. [S1]

Lawyers, despite the bad jokes, are just like the rest of us when it comes to “time in the sun” and their personal calendars will reflect that proclivity through the Labor Day holiday.

I’ve been talking with some lawyers and mediators about contingency plans for improvising a way to help address what might become a scheduling nightmare in the months ahead.

Hiring independent judges has been the traditional strategy for litigators to turn to in times of overwhelming demand for their time but that might not be the best choice for the client.  The factors of time and cost, in this specific application, might open the door for mediation to replace “independent adjudication” as a matter of “the greater benefit” to the client. 

Because mediation can usually be more efficient as a process it would be possible to save time and money without interfering with the relationship between the client and the lawyer. 

If scheduling and the calendar become “speed bumps” for you in terms of making the December 31 deadline please ask your legal advisor to consider contacting a mediator about a faster and possibly less expensive solution.

50 Million People Can be Wronged

by Stephanie Maloney

It’s an old advertising ploy used by promoters for everything from cigarettes to soap; postulating, “If so many other people are doing it how can they all be wrong?” The simple answer is they were sold out – literally.

Mr. Zuckerberg has stepped up in a somewhat delayed timeline to acknowledge that like the captain of a ship he is responsible for whatever happens with his vessel.

He will now face a barrage of questions in D.C. to explain the massive borrowing of personal data by Cambridge Analytica for the purposes of obfuscating information related to the candidates in the 2016 elections.

Facebook gives away its services in return for our data. If you’re not familiar with “Bedazzled” you still might recognize the “made a deal with the Devil” dynamic and what your soul is really worth.

I admit that it never occurred to me that 50% of us rely on Facebook for news about the country and the planet, not just vacation videos. So if we thought that we were getting a free ride with our friends and family “pics & clicks” we were wrong.

There are any number health professionals suggesting that we find, no make, the time to unplug for a while every day. It might not be a bad idea to show the kids what it’s like to get an actual letter in the mail-no the other one-with a stamp and their name on it-and it can’t be hacked.

Spring Cleaning

by Stephanie Maloney

As we finally are getting some much-needed rain I keep thinking about things, besides the social and political black holes, that are ripe for clean up.

With a clearer picture of your finances under the new tax laws it’s probably not a bad idea to get an overview from your advisors about all your options.

I used to talk with my brokerage clients at the end of the first quarter, especially after a turbulent year, so they could position themselves for any changes their tax advisor might suggest.

We already know the landscape has changed but we’re just learning about the effects on our individual situations.

You might very well need to talk about some adjustments with your ex-spouse about your co-parenting parenting plan in light of what is not working so well and any increased levels of stress on the kids. Worries about money have a habit of affecting all family members.

As I have noted please let me know if you think I might be able to be of help even if only for a referral to someone with a very specific area of expertise.

Also let me know if you or a friend might be interested in our Tuesday Support Group.

Don’t Overtax Yourself & Do It Now

by Stephanie Maloney

The new tax legislation will necessitate adjustments for many people dealing with alimony payments-both paying and receiving.

When you start to factor in things like tuition and college debt you get a sense of where your strategy needs to shift in order to maintain sufficient protection for your assets.

Your tax advisor is going to be swamped with requests from people worried about the deductions they have relied upon for some real relief before April 15Th. You can get a head start by assembling whatever (receipts etc.) you posses as well as your various investment and interest 1099’s and charitable contributions.

The more you can do before the tax appointment is more time the accountant can take to make certain you get all the deductions you are entitled to receive. You may even need to change your W-2 status to match the new money dynamics of the altered tax structure.

If you do need to make some changes it might maximize the process to do it as soon as possible. We’ve worked with some great advisors if you need some referrals.

Divorce Mediation vs. Traditional Divorce

Divorce Mediation vs Traditional Divorce

No divorce process is completely stress free, but if you choose mediation to settle your divorce case, you could save on time, stress, and money. While divorce mediation is not as common as traditional divorce litigation, there are many advantages to choosing divorce mediation that can benefit you, your spouse and your children.

What is mediation, and how is it different from typical divorce through the court system?

Mediation divorce is the most cost effective way to manage divorce proceedings. The divorcing couple meets with a mediator — a third-person party acts as a go-between to resolve difficult custody, property matters and financial matters. Through mediation, the couple has the opportunity to decide the final terms and outcomes of the divorce in a peaceful manner that benefits both parties. In many cases it’s best to choose a mediator who has experience in family law and who can make sure that all legal issues are resolved, so an attorney who specializes in mediation is a logical choice.

Benefits of Divorce Mediation:

  • Divorce mediation is significantly less expensive than going through a messy ugly hearing with a judge.
  • Divorce mediation allows you to work on your time schedule instead of being forced to work on the city’s time with scheduled hearings.
  • Divorce mediation gives both parties more flexibility because you can honestly discuss the terms of your parenting plan to ensure that your children are well cared for.
  • Divorce mediation is more humane and peaceful because the mediation sessions normally take place in a conference room instead of in a courtroom with multiple people around.
  • Divorce mediation is confidential and the discussions in divorce mediation do not become a part of public record.
  • Divorce mediation helps couples develop a communication plan that enables you to effectively communicate with each other post-divorce if children are involved.

The most significant difference, however, is that mediated divorces are not subject to arbitration. You and your estranged spouse make the final agreement, and you are not bound by the word or a judge or similar arbiter. Mediation is the method that helps you to create the ideal post-divorce scenario for your family.

What is the difference in cost?

Traditional divorce proceedings involve litigation and court proceedings. Some more complex cases go to full trial. Traditional divorce takes longer, and it can be significantly more expensive. A straightforward mediation costs as low as $10,000 and can go up depending on your assets and the number of children involved. Meanwhile, traditional divorces, complete with court fees, retainers, motions, and discoveries, can cost as much as $40,000 for just basic litigation and uncontested rulings. For many couples, mediation is sufficient for the needs of the family. To understand how divorce mediation works and if this is a good fit for you and your spouse, call Peace-Talks Mediation at (310) 301-2100.

Collaborative Divorce The Best Way To Divorce In California

Collaborative Divorce The Best Way To Divorce In CaliforniaYou have decided your marriage is not working out. You want to divorce, but your friends have told you horror stories about dragging your divorce through the court system. You remember reading an article about Gwyneth Paltrow’s “conscious uncoupling” and her decision to use mediation instead of litigation. Where do you turn?? To collaborative divorce mediation at Peace Talks!

At Peace Talks, we do collaborative divorce: a non-adversarial approach to dissolution. We avoid the litigation over property, parental rights, and pride that destroy families. Peace Talks’ collaborative divorce is the preferable way to dissolve your marriage because it is 90% less expensive than litigation. It is confidential and private. Your discussions, disagreements and decisions are never public knowledge. Peace Talks makes divorce mediation a sane, sensible, and affordable alternative.

Practically speaking, collaborative divorce mediation involves a series of meetings between your partner and yourself, tailored to help you reach agreements in as amicable a manner as possible. A team of interdisciplinary specialists, an attorney, a therapist, a financial expert, and potentially other experts provide you with information to help you make excellent decisions that are in the best interests of your children and your family.

Collaborative divorce also demands another important factor: complete honest and full disclosure by both sides. A collaborative mediated divorce cannot be successful if facts are hidden from the other person. Thus, one of the first steps at Peace Talks is to voluntarily exchange all financial information. This enables our financial specialist to analyze your economic situation and present you and your partner with an accurate analysis of your financial situation. This information becomes the starting point for discussing the division of your household. An advantage of collaborative divorce is that you do not have to comply with mandated court rules. The two of you can come up with a solution that respects your shared goals.

During divorce, your life can seem chaotic, overwhelming and spinning out of control. At Peace Talks, together we develop a clear and systematic plan to keep the level of emotional strain to a minimum. While the process can be shorter than litigation, approximately 4 to 6 months, we work at your pace.
An additional benefit is that meetings at the Peace Talks’ offices are arranged to fit your time schedule, not an outside party like the civil court’s.

Another significant asset is that our mediators give you an opportunity to develop communication, self-management and negotiation skills that will help you during the divorce mediation process and beyond. The skills you achieve at Peace Talks allow you to be involved in the decision making process each step of the way. It also enables you to create a mediated settlement that attains the goals you mutually designed at your first meeting.

In our opinion, the most important reason to choose Peace Talks is that the well being of your children is protected. At Peace Talks, our team of mediation specialists ensures your children’s needs are paramount. With your input, we work to create a parenting plan that is in the best interests of your children. Not only do we consider your present situation, we discuss the developmental stages of your children and devise a plan that looks to the future while remaining flexible.

As you can see, at Peace Talks, the cooperative nature of collaborative divorce mediation can reduce the emotional stress caused by a break-up of the family and lead to a settlement that works for you and everyone involved. We believe by selecting this process you are ensuring the success of your future co- parenting and providing a safe family environment for your children to flourish.

Give Peace Talk a call today and schedule your complimentary consultation. See how collaborative divorce mediation can bring peace to your world. Call us at (310) 301-2100.