Category: <span>Blog</span>

Telling Your Spouse You Want to Divorce

Deciding to divorce is a very personal choice and figuring out how to tell your spouse can be difficult. Here are some things to consider:

  • Select a time and place to talk when you are both well-rested, well-fed, and free from interruption or distractions;
  • If you have children, make sure they will not be present and allow enough of time with them away to fully have this important discussion, as well as to recover somewhat;
  • Rehearse what you will say and how you will say it;
  • Take responsibility for your own decision, using “I” statements;
  • Keep blame out of the conversation–you are trying to move forward, not backward;
  • You know your spouse very well, so imagine the reactions you might receive and prepare in advance for how you will handle them;
  • Work with a counselor to consider how you will feel when your spouse reacts and how you can manage those emotions.

Mediation can help to minimize the negative impacts associated with divorce. When you and your spouse are ready, working with a mediator can help to minimize conflict and keep the focus on your children and outcomes that will work for the whole family moving forward.

The Emotional Process of Separation or Divorce

The emotional process for a divorce or separation is very different for everyone and most times, the couples we see coming in for mediation are in very different places emotionally as individuals. One person in the relationship has made the decision to divorce or separate and the other person is still in “save the marriage” mode.

How do people who are in very different emotional places with the relationship mediate? It isn’t easy when one of the spouses is already “checked out” of the marriage and the other spouse in still holding on and wants to work on things. A majority of the time, the spouse who has initiated the divorce or separation has made the decision a long time ago and has had months and even times years to process the dissolution of the marriage in their head and their heart. The spouse playing catch up has a lot of mental processing to do and needs time to wrap their head and heart around what is happening. Couples going through such a huge life change are caught in a cycle of grief not un-similar to the cycle of grief people go through from the death of a loved one. The marriage is over, it is a loss whether you want the divorce or not.

Mediation for divorce or separation allows the couple to work at a pace that is best for both people involved, allowing the spouse who has not had as much time to process what is happening the pace and time to be involved in the decision making while still allowing the spouse who is ready to move forward to start making the decisions necessary for the separation or divorce. Mediation also provides the privacy and environment that promotes good communication and healthy decision making along with processing the loss of the relationship. Mediation facilitates not only the divorce or separation process, but also the emotional process critical for people to move forward.

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. There are families out there that rely on plans such as Medicare and Medi-cal (visit to find out more) so they can get treated without getting into extreme debt from no insurance due to low income, so they want to be assured that they will be protected with any changes that may happen.

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:

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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