Intro & Keynote - 8:30
Managing the Negotiation Within – For Our Clients and Ourselves
David A. Hoffman, Esq.
Each of us has an internal decision-making process that involves many voices – often sending us competing messages. (A vivid portrayal of this complexity can be seen in the Oscar-winning film “Inside Out.”) This is as true for divorce professionals as it is for our clients. The Internal Family Systems Model – developed by psychologist Richard Schwartz – helps us understand where these internal voices come from, and how we can access our own internal mediator to manage and harmonize them. By learning more about our inner voices, we can enhance our empathy for our clients and – in addition – help them manage their own inner voices and their ambivalence about settlement.
Breakout Sessions - 10:00
Motivated but a Hot Mess: Using Intake System and Team Approach to Help Difficult Couples Cool Down and Mediate Successfully
Sharon Pastore, Cris Pastore, Sandi Sherr
Simmering spouses can learn how to put family first in order to negotiate their own fair settlement. This session explores the day-to- day principles and practices of an ambitious mediation program, including the interplay among outside resources, technology, marketing and ongoing education that shape client behavior all along the way. Participants will learn from our successes and our mistakes, as we delve into specific case studies and present interactive scenarios of complicated couples who succeed in mediation.
Coaching to Enhance the Healthy Divorce Process
Ellen Morfei, Berni Stevens, Sheila Brennan, Arlene Rosen
Divorce is a stressful process which leaves many people feeling powerless and hopeless. Coaching can help divorcing clients focus on the necessary business of divorce, discover their power, define goals, make better decisions, envision a future, and improve their satisfaction with their divorce process and outcomes. In this breakout session, you’ll hear from an independent Divorce Coach, a Divorce Coach working on a collaborative divorce team, as well as a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA®) who is also a Certified Divorce Coach®, and a mediator who incorporate coaching into their work with divorcing clients. We’ll explore what divorce coaching is, what it is not, ways in which coaching promotes a healthy divorce, and how coaching skills can enhance the work of divorce professionals handling legal, financial, and other aspects of the divorce process with their clients.
Behavioral Finance - Why Rational People Make Irrational Financial Choices
Have you ever had one too many slices of pizza? Paid too much for a pair of shoes? Or hit “snooze” one too many times? While your rational self protested, you went ahead anyway. Why? In this session, we will explore decision-making through the lens of Behavioral Finance. What and How do our personal biases influence our choices? How can we recognize and overcome emotional influences to make better choices? Why is “framing” important? Better decision-making in the face of uncertainty, particularly in emotionally charged circumstances is crucial to improving outcomes for those going through divorce or any other life transition.
Breakout Sessions - 11:00
Sex Addiction and Complex Trauma: Impact and Options for Divorcing Couples
Jeannette Cutshaw, LMFT, CSAT, Jean Biesecker, JD, MSW
This session will provide a basic understanding of two issues - Sex Addiction and Complex Trauma, and how these contribute to the breakdown of a marriage and may impact the couple's divorce. A couple's emotional dysregulation and reactivity encountered by the divorce professional will be explored so that the professional is able to work more effectively with couples. This session will also offer an introduction to alternative divorce processes available to couples. Participants will have an opportunity to compare and contrast these alternative processes in designing a plan that will give couples, living these traumas, an opportunity to have a healthier divorce.
Executive Compensation in Divorce Settlements
The session will deal with how to handle the most common executive compensation awards in a divorce situation, specifically incentive and non-qualified stock options and restricted stock units (RSUs). It will address four critical issues: 1) How to determine if executive compensation is marital and, if so, what portion; 2) How to divide and value executive compensation; 3) Identify the tax implications of dividing executive compensation; and 4) How to assess the impact of executive compensation on spousal support/alimony and child support.
Self-Defeating Clients: Evidence Based Techniques Strategies
Ruth Feinblum Conviser, LCSW
While helping people through their divorce journey, we meet a small group of individuals that seem to behave in ways that are counter to their own stated goals. One example is clients that say they want mediation but are verbally aggressive towards their former spouse. Other examples include clients that say they want a divorce or say they want to protect their children but do not follow through on necessary steps. We all know people revert to less constructive coping strategies in moments of extreme adversity. And we know that these behaviors can be result of client history of abuse or a client meeting criteria for a Personality Disorder. All professionals helping with divorce would benefit from evidence based techniques from Motivational Interviewing and Cognitive Therapy to assist these individuals in moving away from self- defeating behaviors.
Special Attention for Special Needs
Lenore M. J. Myers, Esquire, Joanne E. Kleiner, Esquire, Gail P. Roth, Esquire
Learn the effects of varying mental health and disability issues of parents and children in custody, support and other aspects of divorce. Topics covered include different types of disabilities and terms concerning disabilities: parental decisions and their impact: school placement, special educational services, changes in activities, participation in therapies, attendance at IEP meetings, new relationship of either parent, involvement of both parents in evaluation and treatment; opposing mindsets on treatment and other parenting issues; and parental grief, fear of and plans for the future care for their children even into adulthood, special economic considerations (SSI, Medicaid Waiver).
Lunch - 12:15
Breakout Sessions - 1:30
Strategic and Smarter Property Settlement Agreements
Samantha Evian, James Graves, Ellen Morfei, Loretta Hutchinson
Healthier divorces need informed, creative, and future-focused approaches to property settlement agreements. Join a multi-disciplinary team (mediator, financial advisors, attorney) to look at some of the tools and approaches that result in strategic and smarter agreements. The session will examine:
- The legal, financial and emotional issues around debt; how household debt and its post-divorce allocation can have significant consequences on a spouse’s financial future; and strategies to address these concerns.
- How running a financial forecast for multiple division scenarios before agreeing on a settlement aids understanding of long-term ramifications, informed decision-making, and client financial success.
- Stories of creative and strategic property settlements that solve problems, advance the parties individual post-divorce goals, minimize tax liability and more.
Collaborative Law: What It Is and How it Works for Both the Simple and the Complex Divorce
Ann V. Levin, Ellen S. Fischer, Danine Mueller, Arlene Schnee-Rosen, Dorothy S. Langton
A world where divorcing couples intentionally and mindfully pursue settlement by agreement is possible. With the help of trained professionals, some neutral and some not, families can restructure in a healthy and positive way. A brief description of what collaborative law is will precede an in-depth discussion on how legal, financial and mental health professionals work together to help divorcing couples reach an agreement on the myriad of issues that come with the decision to divorce. Specific case studies and fact patterns will be reviewed and collaborative divorce principles will be applied to see how the professionals assist divorcing couples move forward in a self-directed process to arrive at a creative win-win settlement for both sides. It’s a whole new day for families going through the divorce process in the 21st Century.
Hope: The Essence of Resolving Family Disputes
Zanita A. Zacks-Gabriel, Esquire
Family attorneys usually see clients who are stressed and fearful about their future. The uncertainty makes it difficult for many clients to appropriately participate in settlement negotiations. This workshop will present the benefits of hope and how to give it to our clients and ourselves.
Roundtable Sessions - 2:30
Moving from Problem Solving to Understanding: The Art of Holding Space in Divorce
Facilitated by Henry Yampolsky
This session will combine tools, techniques and principles of conflict resolution, mindfulness and even yoga to talk about how focus on deep understanding in divorce can create an opportunity for growth, connection and constructive dialogue. The goal of this session is to introduce new paradigm of serving those going through divorce. Instead of being problem-solvers, it invites divorce professionals to work collaboratively with their clients on exploring what is truly important to them. This paradigm invites divorce professionals to tune into their own feelings and needs to be able to connect with those of their clients. The ultimate intention of this paradigm is the movement from problem-solving to empowerment of our clients.
The Role of The Business Valuation Expert in Collaborative Divorce
Facilitated by David Anderson, Joseph Barbagallo
Discussion of the role that business valuation experts play in a divorce; definition of key valuation terms; the key issues that must be addressed in the valuation process, identification of the key steps in the valuation process; and contrasting the differences in the expert’s role between a traditional and a collaborative divorce.
A Modern Family: Problems and Solutions from the Estate and Family Law Perspective
Facilitated by Diana C. Schimmel, Esq., Rebecca Sallen, Esq.
An exploration of how modern families and couples can utilize the disciplines of creative estate and divorce planning as they prepare for the divorce process. This may be via the proactive tools or a pre/post nuptial agreement, trust, living will, etc. Our goal is to show how the two areas of law intersect in planning for or going through divorce such that it can create a positive balance.
Divorcing Your House: Keep the House for all the Right Reasons
Facilitated by Jeff Weaver
In divorce, the house is a complicated asset. Jeff L Weaver, CDLP, RCS-D discusses the steps your clients need to take to protect themselves when it comes to the house. House mistakes are not easily fixed or inexpensively fixed resulting in damaged credit, bankruptcy, foreclosure and higher legal fees. You’ll get insight into how the puzzle pieces fit together for your client so that they can make an informed decision.
Working with Parent Alienation and Helping to Heal Parent/Child Relationships
Facilitated by Stephanie Newberg
An interactive discussion utilizing a case study to demonstrate how to help rebuild fractured relationships between parents and children after a high conflict divorce. Strategies and a discussion of family dynamics will be presented to illustrate and provide a deeper understanding about how to work with these types of family relationships.
Healthy Parenting While Divorcing: How Are the Kids?
Facilitated by Larry Schwab
A roundtable presentation drawing from clinical and personal experience about the many issues regarding parenting and divorce. Theoretical premises, clinical examples, and helpful interventions will be offered to trigger discussion about co-parenting, family loyalties, parental influence on children’s behavior, family dynamics, child development, and ultimately the conundrum of separation, divorce, and blended families.
Helping Clients Considering Divorce Learn Conflict Resolution Skills
Facilitated by Max Rivers
Many clients expect that once they are divorced, all their problems will go away. But dissolving a marriage without addressing both parties’ personal contribution to the problems in the marriage is likely to perpetuate the pain and its impact on the clients and their families. In this roundtable we’ll dialog about how to use Compassionate Communication (also called NVC: Non-Violent Communication) and other communication tools to show clients a path to peace. We’ll be discussing how we, as divorce and marriage professionals, can address issues that keep our clients locked in conflict, even after the divorce is final. Twice as many second marriages end in divorce because clients are not learning about their role in the problems of their first marriage. Are your clients learning from their mistakes?
Outthinking the Typical Divorce: Using Design Thinking to Unleash Innovation in the Field
Facilitated by Adina Laver
Calling all innovators and creative thinkers! We want the future of divorce to be healthier, but how do we create a different - better - future? Join this roundtable discussion for a Design Thinking experience that will collapse ‘the box’ and allow for the discussion of ideas that might – at first glance – seem impossible or crazy but then magically transform into something powerful and impactful.
Divorce without Rancor or Court: Effective Communication of Divorce Options
Facilitated by Peter Bort, Kate Vetrano
In seeking a divorce, many couples want their family to survive the divorce. They hope to be
friends so that they can preserve and nurture the parenting sphere of the family. They may
recognize the need for financial awareness and emotional support. They may need assistance
to effectively communicate wants and needs or in coping with deep and disturbing wounds or
even numbness. Each party only wants what is fair but do they both see fairness in the same
way? Is there a role for a strong advocate? This roundtable discussion will explore the
different processes and methods to have a healthy divorce and meet these needs.
Managing the Negotiation Within – Case Studies and Going Deeper
Facilitated by David Hoffman (Keynote speaker)
Building on the keynote presentation, this is an extended discussion into the internal decision-making process of divorce professionals. A deeper examination of The Internal Family Systems Model and how to apply them into the daily practice of divorce professionals with consideration of case studies and common challenges.
Unexpressed Grief and Trauma in the Divorce Process
Facilitated by Nancy Cooper
This session will identify how grief and trauma issues exacerbate conflictual divorce processes. This is a unique opportunity to share challenges, ideas, and interventions when dealing with divorce as diverse professionals.
Minimizing the Impact of Addiction on Children in the Context of Divorce
Facilitated by Brynn Cicippio, LMFT, CAADC
Addiction is a complex disease, when both active and in recovery. Professionals will engage in a roundtable discussion to address the best ways to support parents and caregivers in their conversations with children. Conversation fundamentals and interventions will be applicable to family systems where addiction is active and present, or the addicted person is in recovery (short term or long term).
Emotional Intelligence and Divorce
Facilitated by Shellee Buchanan, Esq., CPC, ELI-MP
When it comes to negotiation and mediation in the divorce process, emotions play an important role in how effective the process is. Too often negotiations are based mostly on the cognitive analysis of competing interests with little regard to the emotions behind the discussions. An emotion can be described as a feeling such as fear, anger, anxiety, hate, joy, or love. It is often accompanied by certain physiological and behavioral changes in the body. It consists of feelings as opposed to thoughts. Emotional Intelligence is defined as the capability of individuals to recognize, understand, and manage our own emotions and the emotions of others to achieve one’s goals. This presentation defines the concept of EI, ways to increase EI, and how doing so can be beneficial in the divorce process.
End of Day Panel Discussion - 3:30
David Hoffman, Zanita Zacks-Gabriel, Henry Yampolsky, James Graves, Ruth Feinblum Conviser
Our panelists and all attendees will pull together the symposium objectives to discuss ways to make divorce a healthier process as well as offer recommendations for next steps as a community of divorce professionals.