NYSCDM 35th Anniversary Annual Conference

The New York State Council on Divorce Mediation met for its annual conference in Albany NY, May 3-5 this year. It was the Council’s 35th Annual Conference: “Managing the Delicate Balance”. And it lived up to anniversary status.

There were over 100 divorce mediation and affiliate professionals who attended. Attendees came from every corner of New York State from Buffalo to Long Island. Rochester, NY was well represented by ten members of the Council in attendance.

As President of the NYSCDM, I presided over the annual meeting, honoring all who serve on the board and committees. I also was one of the panelists in a discussion on attorney involvement in divorce mediation. This was a lively discussion with many different viewpoints shared and challenged.

Judge Richard Dollinger, also from Rochester, gave a presentation on “Spousal Support: A view from the bench”.

The annual conference is one of three conferences held yearly by the Council. We stress continuing education for all of our members. Accredited members need to complete a required number of credits to maintain their status with the organization.

When looking for a mediator, please be sure they are members of the NYSCDM and have accredited status. This will ensure your mediator is trained and values their continued education.

For more information on divorce mediation and the process, please call 585-269-8140 or email [email protected]


The New York State Council on Divorce Mediation (NYSCDM) Celebrates 35 Years

The New York State Council on Divorce Mediation (NYSCDM) marks its 35th Anniversary this year. We honor the organization with our annual conference, May 3-5, 2018 in Albany, NY, “Managing the Delicate Balance”.

This year our pre-conference presenter and keynote speaker is David Hoffman, Esq. from Boston Collaborative Law LLC and lecturer at Harvard Law School. He will be presenting on “Getting to the Heart of Conflict: A Workshop on Practical Techniques”.

Other presentations for the three day event will be:                                  

  • Spousal Support: A View from the Bench
  • Navigating The New Tax Laws When Mediating Divorcing Couples
  • Update on the Law
  • Retirement Account Primer for Mediators (Session 1) and Navigating the Retirement Landscape (Session 2)
  • Addressing Diversity, Inclusiveness and Implicit Bias: Concerns Facing Mediators
  • Making the Case for Caucusing in Divorce Mediation
  • Debate: Is There a Place for Consulting Attorneys in Divorce Mediation?,
  • Trends, Resources & Techniques to Know When Mediating Domestic Violence Cases
  • Mediating Past Stereotypes
  • Breaking Through Stalemates: Understanding What Impasses are Really About
  • Converting Calls to Clients
  • What the Heck is HECM?

Continuing education of our members and networking are two main benefits that the organization provides.

The Council pulls from every corner of the state; brining mediators, attorneys and other supporting professionals together in our common goal of making mediation the preferred option for couples divorcing.   

As President of the NYSCDM and an Accredited Member, I support continuing education for all mediators as well as the statewide networking the Council offers.

Parents Need to Show Up

No matter how scared, hurt or angry you are, if you have children, and you are going through a separation or divorce, you still need to “show up” every day and be a parent.

Going through a separation or divorce is hard. Anyone going through the process is in some form of crisis and level of grief. Whether you are the leaver or the levee, you are experiencing a state of transition and upheaval. Life as you know it and had planned on is changing. There are many unknowns and the future may be scary.

What does “showing up” as a parent mean? It means putting your best face forward and being the best version of yourself and parent as possible. Managing your stress and still being able to get through the day to day operations of being a parent is critical to you and your family making a positive transition to redefining your family. Making the needs of your children a priority and placing their best interests in the center of the room and your process will have positive results for all of you.

Putting a good support network in place to help you through the transition is always a good idea as well. What is a good support network? A good support network consists of people who are there for you during this time as well as having activities you enjoy in place to provide outlets to stress. There are many social groups in your community of that offer opportunities to get out of the house and meet new people with common interests. Take advantage of those outlets and new connections.

Friends and family can be a wonderful part of your network. The people who love and support you know you best and can be there when moments are difficult. As well-meaning as friends and family can be, many times professionals are needed to help guide and support you through your transition as well. People, who are experts in their field, unlike family and close friends, will give you sound advice in their field of expertise. This is not meant to underscore the importance of surrounding yourself with people you are close to.

Therapists and financial experts are two kinds of professionals that can be very helpful and alleviate many concerns and fears as you enter this new phase of your life. People you trust to help guide you with difficult decisions are essential in making good informed choices.

The mediation process offers you control over decisions that affect you and your children and keeps you out of court. This process combined with professionals that can help you with informed decision making is the best way to resolve the terms of your separation or divorce.

Contact The Mediation Center, Inc. today at 585-269-8140 for more information on how mediation is the preferred option when going through a separation or divorce

Mediation and Omelets

As I was making my morning omelet, I had a thought. Divorce mediation and the process of resolving family conflict within that framework of good faith, active participation and negotiation is like making an omelet.

You may be asking yourself, how is using mediation for a separation or divorce like making an omelet?

To make an omelet, you have to break some eggs and it is sometimes messy. There are many steps and things to think about. Remember to spray the pan so the eggs don’t stick. You have to get the temperature in the pan just right for the omelet to be successful and look like an omelet or you are going to wind up with scrambled eggs. The right “flip” is essential and then you have to decide what ingredients you are going to add to your omelet to create the experience that you want from the omelet; cheese, veggies, meat or a combination of all three.

I do not mean to trivialize the process of separation and divorce but rather to illustrate that like making an omelet and picking and choosing what goes into your omelet, in mediation YOU have the ability to decide what goes into your agreement. You are creating a new family structure.

The process of mixing things together to come out with a new creation; and you do the best you can. Following another family’s recipe does not always work for what you think is best. No two omelets look alike and no two mediated agreements look alike. The ability to customize your agreement to best fit your changing family is one of the benefits of mediation.

Divorce and separation can be messy and it is not easy to redefine your family. Many decisions (ingredients) have to go into your agreement. How you design that is up to you in mediation.

Making an omelet is hard. Divorce and separation is hard. Make it easier by choosing a process that gives you control over the decisions that will affect your family now and in the future, mediation.

Choose mediation and stay in control. Staying out of a court based process will save you time, money and heartache. Mediation allows you to make the decisions, keeps parents communicating and allows you to customize your agreement.

Call The Mediation Center at 585-269-8140 to answer questions or to set-up an initial consultation. Or email us at [email protected].


Court Based Process for Divorce: Avoid it if you can

A divorce case can be fairly simple if both the husband and the wife want to get divorced and they do not have any disagreements about their finances or children: this kind of case is an “uncontested” divorce. This type of divorce is rare but not uncommon and can be resolved with the help of an uncontested divorce lawyer in your area so you can get the proceedings finalized as soon as possible. In these cases, mediation, a process option for couples separating or divorcing, can keep you out of court and the decision making with the couple divorcing.

However, a divorce case can also be very complicated. This happens if the husband and the wife disagree about financial issues and/or what happens with their children after the divorce is final. These divorces take a much longer time. People call this kind of case a “contested” divorce.

A contested divorce normally needs to be handled in a court based process. And, if you have ever been to court, you know that it is a place most people do not want to be.

In the case of separation and divorce, a court based process is expensive, lengthy, divisive and most of the time, unnecessary. However, when one or both spouses are unable to settle the terms of a separation/divorce and they need that process and the kind of support the court offers. As mentioned, if one spouse is unable to settle and needs “his/her” day in court, there is little you can do to avoid this process.

If there are mental health issues, personality disorders, or domestic violence, you may find yourself in need of the court process and their assistance with resolving the terms of your divorce.

Once you enter a court based process, your level of control decreases. The court will set the dates for appearances and the subpoenas, motions and orders will be drafted and exchanged with the attorneys. The process is lengthy and can last years, even when there are no children involved.

A minority of these cases actually go to trial, 2%-3%, with a majority of them resolved on the “court room steps” by the attorneys or in judge’s chambers.

Money that could have gone to the children and your family will be used up by the process. Children will be assigned attorneys and interviewed. Decisions can and will be made when you are not even in the room. These are just some of the negative side effects of a court based process for divorce.

When possible, utilizing mediation as a process option for couples with or without children together should be a first choice.

Call or email us at The Mediation Center and we can answer all your questions about process options for separation and divorce: 585-269-8140 or [email protected]

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 [email protected] 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, such as Nathens, Siegel LLP, 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, there are so many different websites that they can get “personalisierte geschenke” (personalized gifts) for their mother, which helps them to show their appreciation 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. You could even choose (or help your children choose) a necklace with pendants with initial letters of the mother of your children! However, 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 [email protected] 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.