My firm's main focus is to assist families in transition; separating and/or divorcing, caring for children post-separation so that they have a smooth(er) transition to two homes, separating property and income in a way that feels fair to both people, while at the same time ensuring that each will be (as much as is possible) financially secure in the future. We work mainly as divorce and family mediators.
I also represent people in collaborative divorces, where the two spouses, and the two attorneys, sign a pledge not to go to court, nor to threaten to go to court, but to instead use interest-based negotiation techniques to resolve outstanding issues. Families can use mediation for conflicts between extended family members for estate-related issues (either planning, or estate administration). Mediation is also a wonderful process for an engaged couple to discuss financial issues which may lead one or both to conclude that they need a prenuptial agreement. Prenuptial mediation can actually strengthen marriages, since the #1 issue that causes conflict in marriage is money.
ReSolutions was established in 1995 as a family & divorce mediation provider, where I worked with clients as a solo-practitioner. Since 2006, I have had junior mediators who have first apprenticed with me, and later associated with me, on a part-time basis. Because of my associates, ReSolutions can offer somewhat of a sliding scale.
A couple came in for divorce mediation. The husband (whom we'll call "Mitch") was a psychologist. The wife (whom we'll call "Callie") was a personal trainer. They had one child, age 9. When they came in their primary focus was on their child, and how much they wanted to shield her from conflicts arising out of divorce. Callie and Mitch had agreed that they wanted 50-50 time with their daughter, before they even came into my office. That was their primary motive for choosing mediation.
Mitch and Callie had challenging financial issues which had to be resolved for their settlement. Callie had hardly been working in recent years, and needed some transitional monies - amount and duration to be discussed. Mitch was from a significantly wealthy family, and had received large gifts of cash during their marriage; but his earned income was not that high.
These facts raised a challenging legal issue. Gifts from family are not considered income, going forward, and would not likely be looked at in adversarial situations — BUT in mediation we can look at their respective realities.
During mediation, Mitch and Callie were able to give each other lots of acknowledgement of how much their child needed both of them and what great parents they each were. This helped to build a foundation of trust, and they began to have the same goal: how to enable both parents to move forward into their futures and be okay, and be able to parent well?
Solution: Mitch approached his father and asked for enough money to buy out Callie's interest in the family home. Callie got a large cash settlement, plus alimony for a couple of years. Mitch paid Callie's transition/moving costs.
Despite differences they had - fears each had about going forward to this newly structured future - the focus on the child enabled each of them to say, "I don't love you, but I know that our daughter loves and needs you." This helped them to come to a settlement that would allow each to be strong and capable going forward. A child would never thank you for destroying her other parent.
Prenuptial Agreements: "Hannah" was 34, divorced with two children, ages 9 and 11. She was an architect. "Saul", age 52, had never been married, and was a successful businessman worth upwards of $7 million. They came to me a few months before their planned wedding date.
As you might guess, Saul initiated the prenuptial discussion. Through the mediation process, his underlying emotions and fears came out. He had never been married and, although he and Hannah were already living together, he felt very vulnerable when he thought about getting married. He felt frightened at the thought that he was opening up his whole life to this woman, and letting her into what had previously been exclusively his territory.
Because Hannah understood Saul's fears as he stood on the threshold of marriage, she was able to make him feel heard, and he began to relax. She was able to assure him that she loved him for who he was, and that she was not marrying him for his money.
Then Hannah was able to express some of her own feelings. "If you died after we had been married for 15 years, and because of this prenuptial agreement I was cut out of your estate, how am I your wife? How will I appear to your family members? What if we have children?"
Saul's eyes widened. He understood what Hannah was saying. He said, "I see now - the fact that you are going to be my wife is very meaningful, and I don't want to take the meaning away from that. And yet, I do feel frightened. What if the marriage did not last until death, and we instead divorced?"
As they discussed it further, it became clear that Saul's fears were centered more around the possibility of divorce, than around what would happen if the marriage were to end because one of them died. They decided not to put any estate waivers in place, and Saul agreed that he would update his will right after they returned from their honeymoon.
Next, the discussions focused on their feelings about divorce. They negotiated an agreement which had less effect every year, and which terminated, by its own terms, after 20 years of marriage.
Both Saul and Hannah felt that they had an increased understanding of each other after this negotiation process was completed. They signed the agreement six weeks before the wedding and now, seven years later, they are still married and have a four year-old child.
It can be a meaningful experience for engaged couples to negotiate prenuptial agreements which will protect them, while at the same time acknowledge the love they have for each other and the hopes they hold for their future when entering into marriage.
120 Garfield Place
Brooklyn NY 11215
Free 1/2 hour consultation to anyone who mentions Nolo.
Flat fee for preparation and filing of divorce papers. At the conclusion of mediation, when we have all the terms of the agreement, I quote a flat fee for the agreement.
$225 to $400
9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
7 days per week for appointments.
Many reasons! I am endlessly fascinated by communication and how difficult it can be! I love to figure out where the misunderstanding or miscommunication lies, and to try to untangle the knot. I don't like telling people what to do, even in my private life. I love helping people figure out what THEY want to do. I also did not get married until my mid-thirties and had lots of bad break-ups. I learned that there really is a right and a wrong way to break-up - and that I could guide people through the process.
I see my role as a mediator as supporting clients in trying to structure the process the way that they want to structure it. Some couples come in unable to discuss anything without a third person present. Others come in, get an overview, disappear for six weeks, and come back and tell me what they decided. I am glad to be able to help people have a smoother journey through this process. However, I would be cautious, since clients have come in many times with complete misunderstandings of the law - for example, reading something online from a different state and not understanding that it does not apply in New York; or listening to what a non-lawyer neighbor or friend says is the law; or thinking that someone else's child support order will determine theirs.
I am willing to work with couples, on an hourly fee basis, who bring in documents they have prepared themselves, to assist them to make their contract legally clear and sufficient.
I do not do any litigation and would not have the knowledge to do so - with the exception of clients who want to prepare uncontested divorce forms, and file them themselves.
• Proskauer Rose - 1990-1991 - trusts & estates
• Eckert Seamons Cherin & Mellott - civil litigation - 1992-1994
I was a modern dancer during my twenties. Having lived hand-to-mouth while working in the arts, I can understand people of quite varying financial backgrounds. I went through five years of Freudian psychoanalysis, which helped me to know myself deeply, and to better understand my clients - their deeper thoughts, feelings, motivations. I have also had a lot of experience with addiction, and can understand the difficulties of fighting those illnesses.
My strengths are my emotional intelligence and deep empathy and sympathy for all of my clients going through this difficult time. I have an unusual combination of strong right and left brain activity - so I can relate to the very emotional clients, and also with the very fact-oriented, spreadsheet kinds of clients.Personal interests:
Yoga, biking, hiking, ice skating, cross-country skiing, cooking, knitting.
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