Category: Blog

Dividing Marital Property in New York State

It is completely natural to worry about your assets during and after a divorce. One way that you can ease some of your anxiety is to educate yourself on New York State laws regarding marital property. Having the knowledge and information before and during your separation or divorce process can create a more sound and durable agreement for you and your spouse moving forward.

New York is an equitable distribution state. When a couple divorces, marital property gets divided equitably, or fairly, but not necessarily equally. This doesn’t have to require an equal split of the couple’s assets. There are many factors to be considered and each family situation is different. Just because your neighbor, co-worker or cousin divided property one way, does not mean that how they did it will work for you.

What is marital property? In general, all the property that was acquired during a marriage is considered marital property. Examples would include such things as houses, cars, furniture, appliances, stocks, bonds, jewelry, bank accounts, pensions, retirement plans and IRA’s. There may be items acquired during the marriage that could be considered separate property. This will all be considered, again, on a case by case basis.

At The Mediation Center Inc., you can sit down to review your marital properties in a private setting and become more familiar with options for dividing your property during a separation or divorce. Mediation allows for active participation by the couple to create customized agreements to best meet both of your goals. Unlike a court based process that has cookie cutter answers that are imposed rather than mutually agreed on.

No matter the nature of your relationship with your spouse, knowing the ins and outs of marital property can help your divorce go as smoothly as possible. Renee LaPoint, owner and operator of The Mediation Center Inc., would be happy to sit down and answer any questions that you may have about separation or divorce, including property division. We hope that you will choose a collaborative path to end your marriage and begin the new chapter of your life with sound financial information and decisions.

For more information regarding your financial questions or concerns, contact Renee directly at 585-269-8140, via email at or visit her website

Second Saturday’s: Learning about Separation and Divorce Process Choice Options

Second Saturday is a divorce advice workshop that provides essential information to help you successfully navigate the divorce process. This workshop is designed for people at any stage of untying the knot to help you better prepare for the complexities of divorce while avoiding common financial, legal and emotional pitfalls.

Second Saturday covers the legal, financial, family and personal issues of divorce in a logical, yet compassionate way. Our workshops are presented by a team of qualified legal and financial professionals and family counselors. These professionals include mediators, attorneys, real estate professionals and financial advisors with specific training in helping couples working through a separation or divorce. The professionals focus on a team approach to help you get to a durable and sustainable agreement.

There are several process options available to couples separating or divorcing including: mediation, collaborative law and litigation (a court based process). The professionals review the different process options to help you decide which process will fit your specific situation and level of support you need.

The classroom format will give you ample opportunity to ask questions, meet with divorce professionals, connect with resources for your specific situation, and connect with other participants in similar situations. Second Saturdays provides unbiased information that reviews and explores your options and helps you move through the process.

No matter what level of knowledge you may feel you have with the finances, if you are considering a separation or divorce, the workshops offer a private space to help you understand your personal situation. The attention you will receive with multiple professionals will enable you to get answers to your questions all in one place for a fraction of the cost of what it would be to meet with just one professional.

Workshops are offered the second Saturday of each month from 9:00 am – Noon and starting in July will be offered at the offices of The Mediation Center, 95 Allens Creek Road, Building 2, Suite 123, Rochester, NY 14618. You may just walk in or pre-register by visiting

For more information on the workshops or about mediation as a process option, please call: 585-269-8140.

Celebrating Mother’s Day After Separation or Divorce – Some Helpful Tips

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are likely to be two of the most emotional days of the calendar for divorced parents. Sadly, sometimes divorced parents find themselves in a battle for time with their children on Mothers or Fathers Day. With Mother’s Day being just around the corner, think about your children and what behavior will help them have the best experience instead of turning your Mother’s Day into a power struggle, battlefield, or statement about who is the better parent. If you haven’t already provided for it, perhaps adding language that allows the children to be with their Mother on Mother’s Day and with their Father on Father’s Day would provide for the needs of the children and the parents on their special day. It is an important day for both the parent and the children. Keeping any parental conflict out of these days will allow the children to celebrate with each of you simply and less stressfully.

Dad, a few simple things to keep in mind this weekend: help your children make or buy a card and/or gift for their mother, allow adequate time for your children and their mother to celebrate, and try to keep your children out of the middle by taking a mental oath to avoid all manner of conflict related to this special day. If Mothers Day doesn’t fall into the appropriate parent’s scheduled parenting time, consider adding it as a bonus day that doesn’t have to be made up. If you have remarried, be sure to reserve the primary celebration of Mother’s Day for your child’s immediate, biological (or adopted) mother. While you may want your children to be considerate and remember grandparents, stepparents or other extended family members on these days, it should not be in place of observing Mothers Day with mom.

Mom, If seeing your children is not a possibility, consider making a plan for the day and finding supportive friends and share the day with them, call your children rather than waiting for them to contact you, and don’t forget about your own parents, spend time with your mother. No matter how old you are, you are still her child and she will appreciate your time and attention. No matter what you end up doing on Mother’s Day, take a moment to pat yourself on the back because you deserve it. From all of us at The Mediation Center Inc., Happy Mother’s Day! For more information visit: or call 585-269-8140.

Renee LaPoint Elected President for the NYSCDM (New York State Council on Divorce Mediation)

Renee LaPoint, owner of The Mediation Center Inc. in Rochester, NY, has recently been elected as President of the New York State Council on Divorce Mediation. Renee was elected by the membership at the 2017 Annual Conference that was held in Tarrytown, NY, May 4-6 . The Council sponsors three (3) conferences a year as well as offers many other continuing education opportunities to its membership located throughout New York State.

The New York State Council on Divorce Mediation (NYSCDM) is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the highest professional standards of divorce mediation. Among its services to the community, NYSCDM works actively to promote family wellness by increasing public awareness of mediation as the preferred process for divorce. As part of her duties, Renee will direct the council in its mission to “advance the professional development of our members and promote mediation for families and couples in conflict.” Having started her practice seven (7) years ago in the Rochester Area, Renee has offered a great deal of experience and wisdom to hundreds of families in need of mediation services, which she now brings to the table as the President of the Council.

Renee received her Accreditation with the Council in 2013 and specializes in many areas of practice at The Mediation Center Inc. including divorce and separation mediation, family and relationship mediation, workplace mediation/conflict resolution, collaborative facilitation, conflict coaching/consulting, pre/post-nuptial agreements, domestic partnerships, and LGBTQ issues. Not only will she continue to provide expert support to her clients in all of these areas, but she will now serve the interests of other practicing mediators across the state as the head of the New York State Council on Divorce Mediation. Renee is looking forward to playing a larger role as the leader for the Council, “The Voice of Divorce and Family Mediation in New York” in the coming months and throughout her term. Congratulations Renee!

For more information you can contact Renee directly at 585-269-8140, via email at or visit her website

Grieving Divorce

Grieving is a process we all go through when we feel a loss. The process of a divorce and loss of a spouse and partner is a major life changing event that produces anxiety, stress and yes, GRIEF. Mediation as a process choice for couples divorcing helps to manage the stress level through involved decision making and collaboration, however, the sense of grief is ever present and needs to be recognized as a natural part of the loss of such a major relationship

There are several stages of grief that people go through that have been identified by various researchers. Once commonly used stage theory is one identified by Kübler-Ross (1969).

Denial – Anger – Bargaining – Depression – Acceptance

Originally, The Kübler-Ross model, or the five stages of grief, speaks about a series of emotions experienced by terminally ill patients prior to death. Kübler-Ross later expanded her model to include any form of personal loss, such as the death of a loved one, the loss of a job or income, major rejection and the end of a relationship or divorce.

Here are the expanded steps of grieving the loss of a serious relationship and the associated behaviors within the step (as outlined by Kübler-Ross:

Denial: The person left behind is unable to admit that the relationship is over. They may continue to seek the former partner’s attention.
Anger: The partner left behind may blame the departing partner, or themselves.
Bargaining: The partner left behind may plead with a departing partner that the stimulus that provoked the breakup shall not be repeated. Example: “I can change. Please give me a chance.” Alternatively, they may attempt to renegotiate the terms of the relationship.
Depression: The partner left behind might feel discouraged that their bargaining plea did not convince the former partner to stay.
Acceptance: Lastly, the partner abandons all efforts toward renewal of the relationship.

As mediators assisting people with their divorce process, the stages of grief people experience are present in the room and outside of the session. Understanding these steps as a professional can help in facilitating what each person needs emotionally. It is very common that two people are different stages of grieving, but nonetheless, both parties are grieving one way or the other.

For example, the spouse who has made the decision to divorce may have been processing their loss for a long time, they have accepted the end of the relationship in Stage 5 and may display different emotions than the spouse who is “being left”.  The spouse being left may be in denial at Stage 1, and is not ready to let go. The spouse in Stage 1 may display much more emotion while the spouse in Stage 5 may appear apathetic to the other as they have already done much of their grieving.  The acceptance stage can present as apathy and can be a cause of anger from the other person.

How people handle their grief may be very different depending on not only where they are in the step process, but also how they cope with their grieving and what mechanisms they have in place. Some people keep it all bottled up inside, while others let it all out.

For people struggling with the divorce process and the loss, therapists are an excellent resource for people going through the divorce process and can often compliment the mediation process.

For more information on the mediation process, please contact The Mediation Center at 585-269-8140.


There are different ways to divide household items if you are going through a mediated divorce. The method you choose may be directly related to the level of conflict you are experiencing within your divorce process. You may need a lot of detail with itemized lists including values of items, if you are having difficulty agreeing in general, or at the other end of the spectrum, you may not need any list at all and will just divide items by mutual agreement. Think of this division on a continuum; from little to no detail all the way up to itemization by room. Every situation is different and based on the parties involved, requires a different system for divide up household items.

Here are common ways people may decide to divide household contents:

  1. Make a list, have an appraisal done (agree in advance to accept the appraisers values), then pick what each of you want to take. You may need to determine who gets the first pick and then agree to alternate turns. If values of items are important to your bottom line, you will want to keep track of the totals for each person. Appraisers charge for this service and you will need to know this in advance and agree on how that cost will be handled between the two of you.
  2. Decide to value and appraise only larger valued items in your home. This is a smaller scale appraisal for items you may be in disagreement about. You can value the items each of you are taking and offset with other assets if needed, as part of your overall process. All other items can be divided by agreement if you are able to do so (ex. kitchen items, linens, small furniture, etc.).
  3. Divide all items by agreement. You may choose to value those items or not.

If one of you is keeping the marital residence and it makes sense for the majority of the household items to stay in the home, this can be discussed as well and offset with an agreed to lump sum value for all the items staying in the home. This will allow the person moving out additional assets to purchase things needed for their new residence. It is important to be realistic about pricing when setting values on items.

Other things to consider:                                                                                                     

  1. Photos, wedding gifts, holiday ornaments, family heirlooms – any of these items hold emotional and sentimental value. Divide them up accordingly. Normally items given by a person’s family or friends will stay with that person. Photos can be shared digitally or you may choose to make copy’s.
  2. Children’s things – Allowing the Children to keep their things based on where they will be spending their time keeps things consistent for them. In a shared residency situation, parents should consider dividing items so the Children will have items of their own at each residence.

These are suggestions for dividing household items and certainly not the only options available to couples. Choose a method that will work best for your situation. Discuss these options and any other options you think will work for your situation with your mediator. He or she may have other ideas for you to consider.

If you have chosen mediation as your process option of your divorce, the chances are great that you have already decided to work cooperatively together to reach agreements in all areas. Household items and their division is an area where you can decide together how much detail you both need to move forward.

For more information on the mediation process and the many benefits of mediation, please contact The Mediation Center at 585-269-8140.

The Mediation Center and NY State Council on Divorce Medation


The Mediation Center, Inc. is an Accredited Member of NYSCDM

Divorce mediation is a voluntary, cooperative settlement process used frequently and successfully by married couples who want to divorce and couples who are not married, but share children or finances and want to separate.

For more information, this document has been created to provide more information on the Mediation process.

nyscdm-accredited-logo NYSDM Slide Show

Staying Healthy During a Separation or Divorce


Staying healthy while going through the process of divorce or separation is critical to you and your families moving forward in a positive manner. Being healthy involves good decision for you physically and emotionally.

Even in a mediation process for divorce, there are many decisions that need to be made and life transitions that are happening for you, your spouse and your family. Change is not easy, so stacking the deck with healthy habits can help with the daily stressors.

Here are some ways to get or stay healthy during this period of flux:

1)      Exercise – pick an activity you like to do; walking, biking, swimming, hiking, etc.

2)      Eat well

3)      Sleep – Aim for 8 hours

4)      Support systems – family, friends, co-workers, helping professionals; surround yourself with people who have a positive impact on you

5)      Stay involved – keep up with our hobbies or interests; or find new ones to keep busy. This may be a chance to get involved with new activities that you have wanted to try.

6)      Be informed – get the information you need to make good, informed decisions for your future

7)      Focus on the future

Mediation is a wonderful option for couples separating or divorcing, but no matter what process option you select for your separation or divorce, there will be stressors. Finding ways to minimize those stressors will help you through this difficult life change.

When Children Turn Into Cats

Children area like dogs; teenagers are like cats…..what an interesting way to think of things….Growing up as a child and a parent has so many ups and downs and different “personalities”. I have had both cats and dogs and love all things furry, perhaps that is why I could appreciate this article so much.

This is a wonderful article by Adair Lara. I read it and it made me cry and smile all at the same time. It made me realize how my relationship with my children is ever changing and challenging, but in the end they are relationships I wouldn’t change for the world.

Parents who are co-parenting from different households face more challenges than parents in the same household. You are managing your child’s or children’s transitions from different places with varying degrees of communication. It is very important that whether you as a parent are living with your child’s other parent or living separately, that you manage the co-parenting relationship effectively for your own individual situation and for the personalities involved

Read it and see how you feel.

I JUST REALIZED THAT while children are dogs, loyal and affectionate, teenagers are cats.

It’s so easy to be the owner of a dog. You feed it, train it, boss it around and it puts its head on your knee and gazes at you as if you were a Rembrandt painting. It follows you around, chews the dust covers off the Great Literature series if you stay too long at the party and bounds inside with enthusiasm when you call it in from the yard.

Then, one day around age 13, your adoring little puppy turns into a big old cat. When you tell it to come inside, it looks amazed, as if wondering who died and made you emperor.

Instead of dogging your footsteps, it disappears. You won’t see it again until it gets hungry, when it pauses on its sprint through the kitchen long enough to turn its nose up at whatever you’re serving. When you reach out to ruffle its head, in that old affectionate gesture, it twists away from you, then gives you a blank stare, as if trying to remember where it has seen you before.

It sometimes conks out right after breakfast. It might steel itself to the communication necessary to get the back door opened or the car keys handed to it, but even that amount of dependence is disagreeable to it now.

Stunned, more than a little hurt, you have two choices. The first — and the one chosen by many parents — is that you can continue to behave like a dog owner. After all, your heart still swells when you look at your dog, you still want its company, and naturally when you tell it to stop digging up the rose bushes, you still expect it to obey you, pronto.

IT PAYS NO attention now, of course, being a cat. So you toss it onto the back porch, telling it it can stay there and think about things, mister, and it glares at you, not deigning to reply. It wants you to recognize that it has a new nature now, and it must feel independent or it will die.

You, not realizing that the dog is now a cat, think something must be desperately wrong with it. It seems so anti-social, so distant, so sort of depressed. It won’t go on family outings.

Since you’re the one who raised it, taught it to fetch and stay and sit on command, naturally you assume that whatever is wrong with it is something you did, or left undone. Flooded with guilt and fear, you redouble your efforts to make your pet behave.

Only now, you’re dealing with a cat, so everything that worked before now produces exactly the opposite of the desired result. Call it, and it runs away. Tell it to sit, and it jumps on the counter. The more you go toward it, wringing your hands, the more it moves away.

Your second choice is to do the necessary reading, and learn to behave like a cat owner. Put a dish of food near the door, and let it come to you. If you must issue commands, find out what it wants to do, and command it to do it.

BUT REMEMBER THAT a cat needs affection, too, and your help. Sit still, and it will come, seeking that warm, comforting lap it has not entirely forgotten. Be there to open the door for it.

Realize that all dog owners go through this, and few find it easy. My glance used to travel from my cat Mike looking regal and aloof on the fence to a foolish German shepherd on the sidewalk across the street, jumping for joy simply because he was getting to go outside. Now I miss the little boy who insisted I watch “Full House” with him, and who has now sealed him into a bedroom with a stereo and TV. The little girl who wrote me mash notes and is now peeling rubber in the driveway.

The only consolation is that if you do it right, let them go, be cool as a cat yourself, one day they will walk into the kitchen and give you a big kiss and say, you’ve been on your feet all day, let me get those dishes for you — and you’ll realize they’re dogs again.