An Invitation to to Parents who were Never Married to Each Other

As parents, you are not new to the world of mediation since you are experienced in mediating with your children and between your children. You may not, however, have considered mediation with a trained neutral mediator to resolve parenting issues with your coparent.

The same issues that divorcing parents face about their children also have to be resolved by you. These issues may include education, religion, parenting time or what rules about homework, bedtimes, screen time and even dating and curfews should apply when your child is with you or with their other parent. You may also need to resolve issues of custody, child support and contributions to private schools, post-secondary education and beyond.

If one of your children has special needs, there are additional issues to address including medical, guardianship and financial.

Let me help you find a solution that benefits you, your co-parent and your children with less conflict and tension than going to court.


Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. Below is a message from the Bergen County Division of Mental Health. Please sign up to see the free screening of Scattering CJ. We should all educate ourselves on suicide prevention so we can assist our loved ones when necessary.

Divorce is a particularly stressful time in the life of a family. Hopefully this film and discussion with keep your family safe during this stressful period.


We strongly encourage everyone to take advantage of our open screening of Scattering CJ, scheduled for September 10th – 15th  concluding in a community discussion on September 15th from 7-8:30 pm. ” Register to stream this movie at HCONTINO@CO.BERGEN.NJ.US.

“This documentary not only gives the viewer insight into the loss of a loved one, but how that loss connected people all over the world and initiated conversations among families and communities around suicide prevention, depression and general mental health.

If the pain and the struggle stay silently in the shadows losses will continue to occur that could have been prevented.  Even 6 feet apart we can still illustrate the outstretched arms that exist. 

Be Well!

The Bergen County Division of Mental Health

**** Due to the strong emotional nature of the content we do not recommend anyone under the age of 18 view the film without an adult present.****

Divorce Mediation: Confidentiality in Mediation “What’s said in mediation, stays in mediation.”

One of the reasons for choosing mediation for your divorce instead of litigation is the confidentiality of the mediation process. In litigation, everything is open to the public. Court appearances are open to the public and pleadings and documents filed with the court, are for the most part, accessible to the public.

Mediation is favored by the Courts and that public policy has resulted in rules, laws and case law holding the mediation process confidential. The mediator cannot be compelled to testify on behalf of either party in court, nor to submit to depositions. The confidentiality of the process is to assure the parties that full disclosure will be made during the mediation process and the parties don’t have to worry that what they say in mediation will be used against them later in court.

Confidentiality is important to high profile clients, as well as clients who do not want their dirty laundry aired in public or to have their clients, associates or friends know that they are in the process of getting divorced.

When you come to me to mediate your divorce, you sign a confidentiality agreement before proceeding with the mediation. Such an agreement adds an additional layer of protection to insure the confidentiality of the disclosures made during mediation.

I look forward to assisting you with your divorce and to working together with you in a confidential environment to reach a fair and equitable resolution of your marital dissolution issues.

Human Trafficking Awareness Day 2018

Be aware of what your children are doing. Know who their friends are. Human traffickers make friends with their victims at shopping malls. Human traffickers prey on vulnerable children. Children of parents who are going through a divorce are especially vulnerable.

Don’t shrug this warning off saying it can’t happen to my daughter or my son. Unfortunately it does happen and you may not even know it.

For more information click here.

Children and Divorce: Who Makes the Medical Decisions?

Parents anticipating a divorce or in the midst of a divorce focus on issues of child support, custody, parenting time and education of their children. Emancipation is looked at in terms of whether or not child support will be continuing and if parents will be paying college tuition and expenses.

It is rare that attention is also focused on the fact that once a child turns 18 the parent is no longer able to make healthcare decisions for the child without the child’s written authorization. What does this mean?

As each child celebrates his/her 18th birthday, the child should include in the planning of the celebration the execution of a healthcare Power of Attorney known as a healthcare Proxy. If a child is 18 or older and is injured in a car accident after a prom or a graduation celebration, parents may encounter problems in the medical community making decisions for their child since their child is now considered an adult. Without HIPAA authorization (the medical privacy act), which should be part of the Healthcare Proxy, medical personnel are not allowed to share medical information with anyone other than the patient. The parent appointed by the child as the child’s Proxy for Healthcare will be able to make the medical decisions necessary for that child without having to contend with legal barriers.

I suggest you discuss this issue with your mediator and then with your child. The discussion with your child may be uncomfortable because parents do not want to contemplate that their child will be in a critical medical situation which requires the parents to make life and death decisions for their child and the child thinks he/she is invulnerable and doesn’t have to think about being injured or sick.

Please take this issue to heart and call me if I can be of assistance to you.

Human Trafficking Awareness Day, January 11, 2017. Be Aware – Protect Your Children.

Human traffickers prey on the vulnerable. Children whose parents are going through a divorce are vulnerable.

What is human trafficking? It is when someone knowingly holds, entices, harbors, transports, provides or obtains by any means another person to engage in sexual activity or to provide labor or services.

• It is estimated that 1 million children are exploited by the global commercial sex trade every year. (U.S. Department of State, The Facts About Child Sex Tourism: 2005)

• 244,000 American children and youth were estimated to be at risk of child sexual exploitation, including commercial sex exploitation, in 2000. (Estes, Richard J. and Neil A. Weiner. The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. The University of Pennsylvania School of Social Work: 2001. Study funded by the Department of Justice. )

• 12 – 14 years is the average age of entry into prostitution. (Estes, Richard J. and Neil A. Weiner. The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. The University of Pennsylvania School of Social Work: 2001.)

• It is estimated that there will be 25,000 human trafficking crimes during the months surrounding the Super Bowl (from Valerie Huttle, NJ Assemblywoman 6/14/13 conference).

This is so important it bears repeating – children that are susceptible to human trafficking are children who are vulnerable. Children whose parents are going through a divorce are especially vulnerable. Traffickers entice their victims with promises of family and love. Children who perceive that their family life is coming apart at the seams, who believe that their parents’ divorce is their fault or believe that one parent no longer loves them, can be prime targets.

The traffickers recruit the children through a number of means including social media chat rooms, hanging out at malls and even through other family members and friends. If your child suddenly has an older “new best friend” or “boyfriend”, check it out. You can log on to for additional information on the signs someone is a victim of human trafficking or call the New Jersey Human Trafficking Hotline if you believe your child or anyone else you know is a victim. The toll free telephone number is 1-855-363-6548.


Social Media, Your Divorce, Your Children and Privacy

You and your spouse have very different notions of privacy.  This may be one of the underlying causes of your divorce.  You believe your life should be kept private and don’t believe in broadcasting your every move on social media.  Your spouse believes in sharing, increasing contacts and broadening networks.

You are both the proud parents of three children under the age of 9.  You want to share your children’s photographs, artwork and other visible signs of their achievements with those you love.  So does your spouse.  You are concerned that your children may be the target of online and social media predators if you are not careful about what is shared and how it is shared.  Your spouse says you are overprotective.

How do you resolve these very real differences?

You work together with your Mediator to arrive at a solution that is acceptable to both of you.  You both love your children and want what is best for them, so working towards a goal that will allow  you to protect your children as well as enable you to share your joy in your children with family and friends is certainly an achievable outcome.

Yesterday, August 25, 2016, The Record newspaper, on page BL-5, addressed a similar issue in the “Ask Amy” column.  In discussing protecting a child’s privacy, Amy Dickinson stated “I never tag anyone in photos and am deliberately vague about relationships. . .  Anyone who makes a choice to post a photo of a child including identifying details for all the world to see is taking a risk about how that photo and identifiers might be shared and used outside of their social media friendship circles, now and for all time . . .”

This is a real issue for many couples and should be addressed and included in your divorce settlement agreement.  I am available to help you with this and other issues.