Oh, the Things You Can Learn from a Divorce Mediation Conference!

Oh, the Things You Can Learn from a Divorce Mediation Conference! by Fabienne Swartz

{3:07 minutes to read}

I recently attended a conference organized by the New York State Council on Divorce Mediation. I met mediators from upstate New York, Westchester, and New York City while attending several classes – three of which really stood out for me:

One class was about the emotional health of children involved in divorce. The presenter said that instead of the quantity of time with the children, the quality of the relationship between the parents before, during, and after the divorce is what matters most. She also elaborated on how ex-spouses should never talk negatively about each other and should instead encourage their children to have a good relationship with each parent.

Another class I attended dealt with the New York State of Health Program, the Affordable Care Act, and how they relate to divorce. The presenter said people do not necessarily have to go onto the New York State Exchange if they are not eligible for subsidies, because the exchange can be cumbersome and complicated. Instead, she suggested I advise my clients to work with an insurance broker who can walk them through the advantages and disadvantages of each plan. It does not cost the client anything because the insurance company pays the broker’s commission.

Next I learned about a New York State bill that has passed the legislature and is awaiting the governor’s signature. The new law provides, among many other things, a formula to calculate post-divorce alimony. Currently, the guidelines only dictate temporary alimony. The new legislation also lowers the income cap off of which spousal support is calculated. In New York, the income cap is currently $543,000, and would then be lowered to $175,000, although the court has discretion to go over the cap. Typically, my clients have husbands that make way more than $175,000, so 30% is not very much. In New York, it would be challenging to manage to pay your mortgage, property taxes, and all other expenses on $52,500 per year.

The law also contains advisory guidelines for calculating the length of alimony:

  • Marriages lasting 0-15 years would provide alimony for 15-30% of the length of marriage.
  • Marriages lasting 15-20 years would provide alimony for 30-40% of that length.
  • More than 20 years, alimony would last 35-50% of the length of marriage.

The community of mediators and financial neutrals is one that loves learning. I make sure to attend as many conferences as I can in order to learn new things and understand how colleagues from all over the country approach different situations.

Do you attend continuing education events for your industry?

Fabienne Swartz JD (Belgium) CDFATM
Certified Divorce Financial AnalystTM
500 Mamaroneck Av.
Suite 320
Harrison, NY 10528
(914) 798-6940

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