“Lawyers make things worse!” I sometimes say to my clients. “They can take people who are this far apart,” I say with my hands about 4 inches away from each other, “and make them this far apart by the time they’re through!” continuing with my hands still facing each other but my arms stretched about 3 feet away. This may seem like blasphemy coming from a lawyer! And I mean no disrespect to my colleagues – but it’s part of … read more »
Being a Guide
This weekend, I saw the movie, Harriet, a riveting film about Harriet Tubman. We know the basics of the story — that she not only escaped slavery herself but kept going back down south, facing incredible danger, to help others make the journey to freedom. But seeing her life enacted onscreen (albeit a Hollywood version) gives the viewer a visceral sense of what it looked and felt like — I was riveted the whole time and went back to see … read more »
Power to the People!
A big change is coming to the New York State court system. Starting this fall, all New York State courts will work on a system of “presumptive mediation,” which means that it will be assumed that every civil case filed can be resolved using Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) e.g. mediation, arbitration or early neutral evaluation. Instead of having to opt in – to affirmatively decide to mediate — parties may opt out. Think of the difference between being presumed innocent … read more »
What Happens in the Mediation Room?
I ask both parties to come in for an introductory meeting when they inquire about divorce mediation. I am not a fancy person. I look professional, but I don’t often wear suits in the office. I try not to use big words, and to explain things in English, rather than legalese. I don’t think my job is to scare clients — in fact, I try to reassure them that they can get through the process, because they can. And our … read more »
R-E-S-P-E-C-T — Find Out What it Means to Me!
I write this just days after the death of the infamous Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. Hers was the voice of a generation — my generation — but she meant so much more. While it is difficult to imagine a world without her, I am grateful for her music, which will live on. From my perspective, Aretha’s most influential song was “Respect,” written by Otis Redding. As Wesley Morris wrote in her obituary, she turned the song — and the … read more »
Collaborative Law: A Different Way to Divorce
The media often portray divorce with ex-spouses lawyered up as courtroom adversaries — the same folks who once pledged to hold each other through better or worse now as mortal enemies fighting over the turf of their children’s hearts and minds. Going through a divorce can be a challenging, trying process. The reality is that divorce is usually much more complicated and nuanced. Most clients I see are sad and confused and grieving and tender and thoughtful and hurt … read more »
Divorce — Many Separations
Divorce is a long process of transforming your family from one unit into two. There are actually several kinds of separation occurring during this process. The first stage is the emotional separation. One or both of you may feel detached, alone or disconnected – for some reason, the unit is no longer functioning the way you had hoped or expected that it would. The feeling of “living together alone” may be real at this point. Then there is the physical … read more »
NYS Same Sex Marriage – It’s Complicated!
Today I led a workshop for the Family & Divorce Mediation Council (of Greater NY) with fellow Board members Teresa Calabrese, Katie Cole and Mark Josephson on what the new law permitting same-sex marriage means in NY. On one hand, it is a huge victory and an important step in creating civil rights for LGBT couples. On the other hand, it is a legal tangle. As of this writing, only 6 states (plus DC) issue marriage licenses to same sex … read more »
There are several articles in today’s NYTimes that reflect a change in today’s families, on this Father’s Day, 2011: A front page article about President Obama’s evolving views of gay marriage. Baby Makes 4, And Complications – A long and very personal portrait of a Park Slope mother, child, sperm donor/father and his partner. How Divorce Lost Its Groove, about the attitudes young people have toward divorce, and how they are trying to make it gentler on their kids — … read more »
Congratulations to our client, Nora Olsen, who just published her first novel, The End: Five Queer Kids Save the World. She calls it “a hyper-realistic story of a group of teenagers who travel through time to prevent a nuclear war.” A sci-fi LGBT young adult novel — very cutting edge, very cool!!