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.

Divorce Mediation: Mediating Alimony under the New Federal Tax Law

For divorces finalized beginning January 1, 2019 and going forward, alimony payments will no longer be deductible to the payor nor will alimony be considered income to the payee under the provisions of the new federal tax law. This change has caused a run on the courthouse for those wanting to get divorced in 2018 and still have the old alimony tax rules apply.

For those of you who are just beginning to consider divorce, or are the midst of your divorce, what does this change mean to you and your negotiations regarding alimony?

The change in the tax law simplifies the alimony calculations. The parties can concentrate on the 14 factors set forth by the alimony statute which must be taken into account in determining alimony. Those factors include the actual need and ability of the parties to pay, the duration of the marriage and the parties marital lifestyle.

As your divorce mediator I will review all the factors with you to help you to reach a fair and equitable alimony amount.

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.

Mediation of Parenting Time: Halloween

Halloween is only a week away. It is a great time for children and parents to bond. You and your children can spend time planning and/or making the holiday costumes. Together you can plot out the “best” route for “Trick or Treating”. In advance of knocking on doors you can discuss whether instead of, or in addition to, getting candy, the children will ask for donations to their favorite charity. This can lead to discussions about charity and making it an integral part of your child’s life.

Don’t let this special time with your children be disrupted by fights over who will accompany the children when they go trick or treating. If you can’t work it out, reach out to a mediator who can assist you to resolve this issue to the satisfaction of both of you and give you and your children a wonderful holiday experience.

Don’t hesitate to contact me if I can help you.

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.

National Healthcare Decisions Week (April 16-22)

One of the important decisions that people getting divorced have to make, and often overlook, is deciding who will be their healthcare proxy after the divorce.  If you already have a health care proxy, you probably named your spouse.  Do you still want your spouse to make your health care decisions for you once you are divorced, or even while you are going through a divorce?  If you do not have a health care proxy, now is the time to name someone to fill that very important role.

“Did you know:

  • Health care agents make medical decisions for about half of the adults over 65 who are hospitalized.
  • In more than half of the instances where an agent must act, the agent is making decisions about life-sustaining treatments.
  • In about a quarter of cases, the health care agent is making all medical decisions for the patient.”

See http://www.aaepa.com/2017/04/health-care-agents-matter-may-think/

This is an issue you can discuss with your mediator or with an estate planning attorney.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you need assistance in this area.