Category: Blog

Family: Is there a normal?

No family looks the same. They come in all shapes and sizes with many different nuances. We are in a generation that has seen and is still seeing many changes as it relates to the family unit. There truly is no normal anymore.

Once upon a time, there used to be a mom, a dad and 2.5 kids, and maybe a dog. That was the “normal” American family.  And anything else was not considered to be good or healthy.

Today’s families still may have one mom and one dad, others have single parents and still others have two moms or two dads. There are blended families with step-brothers and sisters and half-brothers and sisters. There are families that choose not to have children and those who choose to adopt. Many families have adult children returning to the nest and others have older parents sharing a home. There are marriages of all types, as well as recognized domestic partnerships. And people in all these types of families can have very healthy and positive experiences. No matter what your family looks like, it is your family. And your family comes with both the good times and the challenging times.

Learning to live with the good and the bad in every family and communicating with each other is the key to being happy at home. Communication involves talking as well as listening. It also involves feeling safe and comfortable so you may express your needs and wants. The Mediation Center works with all kinds of families Mediation helps couples and families define and express their issues and figure out the best option for moving forward for the family.

There is no normal.

Mediation Settlement Day

This past Thursday, October 17, 2013, was Mediation Day. The New York State Office of Court Administration (at explains that

“Mediation Settlement Day is an annual event designed to raise awareness about the many benefits of mediation and the wealth of available resources for people in conflict. Organizations throughout the United States and beyond coordinate efforts to celebrate and promote mediation on the same day each year.  On this day and throughout the month of October, organizations conduct special programs to promote mediation and to educate potential parties and attorneys about the mediation process.  The aim is to encourage parties to try mediation for the first time and to reinforce its value and effectiveness to those who have benefitted from it before”.

A good place to learn more about the value of mediation is the New York State Council on Divorce Mediation.  You can access the Council and learn more about mediation from the following sources:

•       Council’s Twitter account @NYSMediate

•       Council’s Facebook page at

•       Council’s website

Health Care and Separation/Divorce – How it is different


Health Care coverage is a big topic these days. The Affordable Care Act brings many changes along with it to the health care industry and to us as consumers. Just what the affects of the Act will be are unknown. There are many issues associated with Affordable Care that have us wondering what will happen in the future and how will coverage, billing and carriers change.

One of the topics covered in mediation when a couple is separating and divorcing is the issue of health care coverage.  How the coverage and associated costs will be handled for children and for the spouses are important things to discuss and have defined in any agreement (will the child/children be covered my Mom or Dad’s insurance and what portion of the costs is each parent covering). This can be a huge expense and needs to be discussed and decided upon and is not necessarily covered with child support payments.

In most cases, spouses who are legally separated can still be covered by a spouses employers insurance. But be sure to check with your employer to be sure that is the case. Once a divorce is finalized, spouses can no longer be covered on each other’s health insurance plans.

For any questions regarding this topic or any others related to separation or divorce, please call me at 585-269-8140.

12 Tips for Negotiating and Compromising with Difficult People

From the Dale Carnegie Coaches Corner:

12 Tips for Negotiating and Compromising with Difficult People

Negotiating is the process of attempting to agree on a solution. Compromising, or settling on a mutually agreeable solution, is the result of successful negotiations. Compromise is all about being flexible. It means being able to generate alternate solutions when you’ve “hit the wall.” Whether it involves a person you can’t get along with, an idea you know will work but that others are reluctant to agree to, a change in office systems, or a turf war that needs ending, learning to negotiate and compromise is essential to your success.”

12 tips to help with the process:

  1. Have a positive attitude.  
  2. Meet on mutual ground.  
  3. Clearly define and agree on the issue.  
  4. Do your homework.  
  5. Take an honest inventory of yourself.  
  6. Look for shared interests.  
  7. Deal with facts, not emotions.  
  8. Be honest.  
  9. Present alternatives and provide evidence.  
  10. Be an expert communicator.  
  11. End on a good note.  
  12. Enjoy the process. 

To read Dale Carnegie’s full article please go to:

In just 5 minutes you can help NeighborWorks Rochester

Please consider taking 5 minutes to assist a local non-profit that is looking for your feedback about their brand and image. This survey should take about 5 minutes of your time and will be used to help them make future marketing, advertising, and strategic decisions in your community. Thank you in advance for your time!

 To take the survey, please visit:


Practice Tip for State of NY Mediators

A very important point for mediators to remember when preparing a memorandum of understanding is that under New York State law, a presumption is created that that many designations made during a marriage are revoked upon a divorce.  Often times, a spouse will desire to have his or her ex-spouse continue to be the beneficiary on an insurance policy or a retirement asset.  Sometimes a spouse will desire their ex-spouse continue as his or her health care agent, or executor or executrix of his or her will.  In all these situations, the presumption is the designation fails upon divorce.  In order to disprove the presumption, the designation must be remade post-divorce or the designation must be included in the judgment of divorce.  A reminder  in the memorandum of understanding that the parties should talk to their attorneys about remaking the designation or including the designation in their judgment of divorce, could help your clients achieve their desired outcome.

Letting Him/Her Down Easy

Making the decision to divorce is a difficult one, particularly if you still care about your partner. You may be tempted to try to soften the blow of your decision by offering some hope of reconciliation. While it seems harmless, if such a possibility is not likely, it can actually cause more pain for your partner.

It is perfectly alright to share with your partner how painful this decision is and your continued care for him or her, but it is also vital that you are honest about your resolution to end the relationship. Offering to “try out” a separation when you know in your heart that you do not want to reconcile gives your partner the belief that there is something she or he can do to fix the problems in the relationship. Your partner deserves the dignity of responding to the reality of the situation and the opportunity to grieve.

If you really are ambivalent about whether or not the marriage is over, our mediators can help you and spouse have an honest conversation to discern what next steps you would like to take. If you need couples counseling, we can make a referral. If there are specific issues within the relationship you want to work on, relationship mediation may be an option. And if you do wish to go forward with a legal separation or divorce, mediation offers a dignified approach that allows you and your spouse to retain control of the decisions that will affect your family.


Rushing through the many decisions that need to be in your settlement agreement when you are separating or divorcing, is never a good idea.

People divorcing or separating are in crisis. Whether you are aware of it or not, you are going through a loss and must give yourself time to adjust to this huge life change. Even if you are the one initiating the split, you need to take the time to make thoughtful and considered decisions. The decisions you make in your Settlement Agreement, whether you are seeking a legal separation or a divorce, are lasting. Once these decisions are made and filed by an attorney, changes are very difficult to make. You need to be as sure as you can when making these decisions that will affect your future.

In mediation, YOU set the pace of the process. You must decide many things including: parenting decisions (if you have children); equitable distribution of assets and liabilities; and any support issues, both child and spousal. You can take the time you need to make the right decisions for your family.

You are also in control of the decisions that are being made in mediation, rather than an attorney or judge. Mediation gives you the ability to make customized agreements that suit your situation best.

Mediators are trained conflict resolution specialist who facilitate conversations as neutral third parties, providing you the information you need to make good/informed decisions. This empowers you and your spouse throughout the process. You decide what decisions get made and how those decisions are applied to your specific situation.

For more information call: 585-269-8140 or email



Getting Your Needs Met

It can often be difficult to express what you want in a way that the other person can hear your request. Very often, especially when we are upset, the person we are talking to hears our request as a criticism or a demand and they become defensive. Here are a few suggestions about how to communicate your needs in a way that might be better received.

First, practice what you want to say in advance, where and when you will say it. The more prepared you are for the conversation, the less likely it is that it will degenerate into an argument. Next, spend some time thinking about how you feel and take responsibility for your own feelings. Feelings are emotions–not accusations. “I feel sad” is different from “you disappoint me.” Identifying and stating your feeling can help the other person to empathize with you because we have all felt sad, afraid, or angry. Then, identify what you need. Needs are universal. All of us need food, water, air, and shelter, but we all also need connection, meaning, autonomy, and a sense of well-being. Again, if you can articulate your need, it is more likely the other person will relate to you, rather than rally against you. Finally, make your request.

Here’s an example. After practicing and deciding that right after work, while the children are out of the house and they won’t be interrupted, a wife approaches her husband. “I would like to talk for a minute, if now is a good time?” Getting agreement, they sit down at the table together. “I have been feeling irritable lately because I have a need for intimacy. I am wondering if you would be willing to schedule two nights or days each week with me that we could have time alone, without the children, to reconnect physically?” There is no guarantee that her request will be met, but it could begin an honest conversation that will help them both to clarifying more deeply what they each need from their relationship.

To learn more about these techniques, you might want to read Non-Violent Communication: A Language of Life, by Marshall B. Rosenberg, Ph.D. You can also contact a mediator who can help you facilitate an honest conversation that might feel to difficult to have on your own. Mediators offer support and help to manage strong emotions as they arise. For more information, email or call 585-586-1830.

Once again, the Mediation Center is helping out.

Once again, the Mediation Center is helping out.

We have donated refreshments, bags to be auctioned, raffle items, and even a bartender to  NeighborWorks® Rochester for its auction tomorrow afternoon/evening.

NeighborWorks® Rochester is auctioning off themed tote bags full of goodies! Each bag offers a great group of items for you to bid on. To see what they have to offer, visit or keep an eye out for the  bags around the city. The auction runs through June 7th and culminates with a Happy Hour from 4-7 at the Neighborworks Rochester building @ 570 South Ave that will offer chances for final bidding, complimentary food, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, and a raffle.

Join us as we celebrate with the folks at NeighborWorks® Rochester!

All proceeds benefit NeighborWorks® Rochester which creates sustainable communities by providing services to support individuals and families with purchasing a home or improve an existing home. NeighborWorks Rochester offers education and grants for home purchase, loans and grants for home improvement, energy efficiency audits and improvements, and lead paint inspections throughout Monroe County. For more information, please call 585-325-4170.