The divorce process involves many aspects of the relationship from an emotional and financial standpoint. The most contentious issues often center on the parties’ finances. Because addressing cash flow and the distribution of assets can create added stress during the divorce process, mediation is often considered as the best alternative to going to court. In this process, both parties have an opportunity to obtain complete information on the family’s financial situation and make informed decisions about how to move forward. This is especially important when there is an imbalance in the relationship caused by either a disparity in income or understanding about the finances. Regardless of the reason for the financial imbalance, mediation allows for both parties to have a fair process and equal opportunity for his/her questions and concerns to be heard and addressed while coming to an agreement. Continue Reading
Mediation is a process where a neutral professional facilitates the communication between two parties in order to help them reach a mutually acceptable resolution of a dispute. Mediation is used in many types of legal disputes, but can be especially valuable in the context of family law, more specifically divorce. Aside from the usefulness of the process itself, there are many benefits of mediation that are often overlooked. Continue Reading
Understanding assets, liabilities and cash flow helps to create a solid foundation for a good negotiation. When it comes to financial disclosures and information gathering in divorce, a neutral financial professional is often used in mediation and collaborative law because it can be beneficial for both parties.
A simple Internet search of “National Divorce Month” will result in a stack of articles discussing how lawyers encounter a heavy volume of calls right after the holidays, giving January the unfortunate moniker of ‘National Divorce Month.’ 2014 has been no different. Last month we once again saw divorce attorneys writing about how the phones began to ring off the hook once the holiday season officially ended. On the surface, it makes sense. Many couples choose to prolong beginning the divorce or separation process until after the already busy and stressful holidays are over. It can be especially difficult for couples with children, because parents are hesitant to interrupt the child’s holiday with news of a divorce. Many people tend to look at the New Year as a “fresh start” and a chance to begin again, so choosing to begin the divorce process in the New Year seems like the best alternative.
Is there ever really a “right” time to initiate a divorce or separation? Many articles written about January divorces point to the many reasons why people choose to begin the process at that time, and why it makes sense to wait until after the holidays. The most important thing, though, is for the spouses to evaluate their own marital life and family. Several of my blogs have made mention of the fact that every family is different and thus, every divorce is also different. This rings true no matter what the highest divorce month may be.
The decision to divorce or separate is an important one, to say the least. Every couple has considerations to keep in mind before deciding if divorce is the right path to take. In making an assessment of the marital life as well as family life, couples should make sure to have open and honest communication, and not rush the process. Some couples find it helpful to sit down with a couples’ counselor or mediator in order to really get everything on the table. A very important aspect of assessing the situation is to become educated on all of the options available. Taking an active role in decision-making is helpful in reaching decisions about what to do.
A solid contract is the cornerstone of a successful career for any professional athlete. A contract provides a sense of security, both personal and financial. Generally, an athlete will hire an agent to look out for his/her financial interests, ensuring that every deal or endorsement made is defined by a contract. Like many couples, however, when it comes to love and marriage, athletes are uncomfortable talking about money and shy away from planning for the future: good or bad.
It is often thought that a “prenup” is reserved for the wealthy: families like the Rockefellers, or other entrepreneurs with deep pockets who are finally deciding to take the marital plunge. While, a prenuptial agreement is essential for those already with assets, it is even more essential for those who are about to come into a great deal of wealth, or work in a field where financial security fluctuates significantly year-to-year. By definition, a professional athlete’s career can go from non-existent to superstar success overnight and return to non-existent the very next day. It is a phenomenal and harsh reality with highs and lows many people will never experience. It is not an average 9 to 5 job and can be disastrous for couples who are not thoroughly prepared for the ride before tying the knot.
It is important for professional athletes of all levels to consider the importance of a prenup. Much like a thriving business owner, a professional athlete has likely worked to perfect his or her skills over a lifetime, so it is important to protect the benefits and fruits of their labor. From their spouse’s perspective, it is also equally important that their contributions to the marriage are respected and that they have financial security if the marriage comes to an end.
Recently, news came out that the reality TV star, Khloe Kardashian and NBA player, Lamar Odom are headed for divorce. The couple does have a prenup which protects Odom’s estate, valued at more than $30 million. Sources say the agreement provides for Khloe to receive maintenance from Odom, as well as access to a joint account (funded by Odom) to pay all expenses. The agreement also outlines exactly how much Khloe would receive in monthly support in the event of a divorce. Though the terms of the prenuptial agreement have not been made entirely public, one can only assume that Khloe and Lamar have had well-advised input from their respective attorneys in coming to the terms of their prenuptial agreement. This type of planning enables both parties to reduce the level of stress associated with separation and divorce by providing certainty about the future. With a properly drafted prenup, Lamar and Khloe should find comfort that they have taken control over important financial decisions and minimized the fear of a third party deciding their fate.
With new technology constantly emerging, general communication has become easier through Skype, WebEx, ooVoo, and numerous other video chat and conferencing programs. The legal profession has also seen the effects of newer technology, particularly through online mediation. Online mediation has its own set of benefits when the circumstances are right and the logistics of meeting in person are difficult due to the geographical locations of the participants.
While online mediation is becoming more common, it isn’t entirely new to the ADR landscape. Online mediation started over a decade ago, right about the time Skype was initially released to the public. Video communication has made it possible for individuals to conduct live meetings and conversations with people virtually anywhere in the world and still have the feel of face-to-face interaction. Online mediation is no different, and it also can provide for certain advantages to in-person mediation.
Although general online communications give users the ability to connect in real time to others, online mediation also provides parties with the ability to take time to form responses to parts of the mediation. The real-time element can still be present, but the mediation itself can be done in segments online, with parties taking time in-between sessions to think about issues that were raised by the other party or the mediator. This makes it possible for parties to not only take the time to formulate responses, but it also allows them to be in different geographic areas throughout the mediation process.
This brings us to the next advantage – location. Online mediation offers a unique benefit to both the parties and the mediator. Parties can be in entirely different locations and still have the ability to conduct an effective and efficient mediation.
The location advantage leads into benefits specific to the parties and to the mediator. The ability to be in a different physical location from the other party allows the parties to avoid what may be an uncomfortable confrontation. Although mediation is considered much less confrontational than litigation, it is still a form of dispute resolution. For certain people, conflict in general can be overly nerve-racking and stressful, so the ability to work toward a solution in one’s home or office can ease the stress.
The mediator can also benefit from the location advantage because it allows a practice to reach out to a larger area than just one city or region. It allows the mediator to focus more on the mediation process itself, rather than logistics and unnecessary stress. When parties reside or do business in distant areas, the mediation process can become more costly and difficult to coordinate. However, online mediation affords any party with an Internet connection the ability to resolve a conflict.