Welcome and congratulations for considering divorce mediation. Michele M. Martin is a Divorce Mediator, proudly serving Saratoga, Albany, Schenectady, Fulton, Warren, Washington, Rensselaer counties.
Mediation allows those divorcing to decide how their story will unfold. Mediation is a positive and effective way for couples to take control of their separation or divorce without the expense, time and often damaging effects of litigation. Additionally, agreements reached through mediation can be more creative, detailed, and flexible than those reached through litigation.
My approach is client-focused. I view every case as unique and view the couple as the experts in what is the best resolution for them and their family. In other words, assisting my clients in proactively resolving the terms of their divorce and facilitating effective communication is integral to the success of the process. Divorce does not have to be a tragedy. Couples do not have to “fight it out”.
My husband and I ended our marriage approximately seven years ago and we chose mediation. Today we are friendly to each other, are financially independent and have been successfully co-parenting our son Max. I attribute much of our success to the fact that we used mediation. I truly believe that how you handle your divorce will influence the rest of your life and I am a passionate advocate for divorcing couples to preserve the opportunity to co-parent effectively and for both parties to start their new lives in a healthy financial position.
I offer a no-fee initial consultation where I’ll give you more information about the divorce mediation process and you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions. The free consultation will help you confirm that mediation and my services are right for you. I appreciate the opportunity to work with you.
Motto: “Smart People Mediate”
Led by: Michele Martin
Why They’re Unique: Only local mediator with credentialing as a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA). Michele was a financial Planner for years before becoming mediator. Most mediators and divorce attorneys will recommend that their clients also seek the advice and counsel of a CDFA through the divorce proceedings. Since Michele has the experience and expertise it is another way she is able to streamline the divorce proceedings, shorten the timeline and provide a comprehensive financial plan to both spouses.
They Can Answer Questions Relating to:
1.What is Mediation?
2.How does a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® (CDFA™) professional help divorcing couples?
3.What Divorce Options are Available to Us?
4.How long does mediation take?
5.How can I prepare for Mediation?
6.How much does mediation cost?
Meet The Expert
Michele Martin: How I became a mediator
When my ex-husband and I broke the news to my mother that we were getting a divorce she had two words of advice:
My mother worked as a court reporter for 30 years in New York State Supreme Court and worked on hundreds of matrimonial cases. She had become disillusioned over the years from seeing so many situations that were only made worse by lawyers.
My mother’s concerns were that:
- The lawyers would “stir the pot.”
- They would stand in the way of compromise.
- The situation would turn out worse than it had to be.
- All of our money would go to the lawyers.
My ex and I took my mother’s advice. Not knowing what to expect, we found our first few sessions to be a bit challenging as we each laid out our interests, and tried to look past our positions. It wasn’t easy at first, but over the course of a few meetings we came to see that we agreed much more than we realized.
We made our consensus official by drafting an appropriate, personalized agreement that would leave us on solid financial footing in post-divorce life. I consider the work we did in mediation to be a success; we’ve never had to go to court for a post-divorce modification. It’s easy to stick to an agreement you made yourself! Frankly, I was very proud of how we handled our divorce.
“You guys get along so well. How can you afford two houses? How are you able to spend time together with your son? How do you do it?!”
After my divorce finalized I became the go-to person whenever somebody was considering a divorce.
My answer was always: “It’s because we mediated our divorce.”
I was glad to be a sort of inspiration to people who are going through divorce. It is true that my ex and I are genuine friends, spend time with our children together and do holidays together – but these things are not unusual for couples who go the mediation route. That’s because in mediation, there is no loser.
As a financial advisor I was at the top of my game when it dawned on me: Why not merge the two biggest themes in my life? A positive divorce and responsible financial planning.
I found my answer by becoming a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA) and training to be a mediator. Unlike many mediators who come into the field as lawyers, my background in matters of finance gives me a different style of mediating, one with more practical solutions to financial or family problems.
I am passionate about helping couples come to the best agreement possible so that they and their children can live great lives post-divorce.
1. Stop listening to “Armchair Experts” When you’re going through a divorce, everyone will have war stories and advice for you. What you really need to know is that each divorce and each situation is different. Just because Joe or Sandy at your shop pays $100 a month in child support or got the house doesn’t mean you will. Just because they didn’t, doesn’t mean you won’t. In Mediation, couples come to their own agreements as to what makes sense for their family.
2. As hard as it may seem find a common ground that you share with your ex. If there are kids involved the common ground is usually that you both love your kids and want what’s best for them. Or, perhaps you agree that spending tens of thousands of dollars to get divorced would be down-right stupid. Remind yourself often of your common ground. A Mediator is trained to identify the common ground and work from there.
3. How you handle your divorce will determine the tone and course of the REST OF YOUR LIFE. Trust me. A bitter divorce will forever affect your children, your future relationships and your quality of life. Now is the time to be smart and put anger aside. Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face. Take the higher ground. You’ll be so happy that you did. Mediation is the best route to preserve the possibility of a “better” divorce.
4. Don’t spend all your marital assets getting divorced. A judge recently said to me: "By the time we see [divorce] cases in court, most people have spent all their marital assets on the divorce itself. By that time, we’re just dividing debts and attorney’s fees." Choosing mediation represents a "wise decision" when looking for a way to cut costs while insuring the soundness of the divorce process.
5. Stay away from “well-meaning” friends who get you worked up. Whether intentional or not, friends and famil of those divorcing often act in such a way as to make the situation even more painful. Bringing up negatives about your spouse in an attempt to seem sympathetic can bring unnecessary anger and bitterness to the surface. If you find yourself in this situation, don’t be afraid to say “you’re not helping me right now” and explain that what you need is a friend to listen, not someone to get you more worked up about the situation. A Mediator keeps a couple focused on the decisions that need to be made in a non-inflammatory environment.
6. Try not to focus on what you think the law provides as to look at property division, support and custody. Instead, think about what makes the most sense for your family. Don’t let a court decide your fate – how your assets will be divided and who your children will spend time with take control and come up with the best agreement possible for your family through mediation.
7. Don’t spend thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees fighting over a $150 chair.
8. If you have children your ex will be part of your life for a very long time, like it or not. Save yourself and your children years of stress and heartache. For the sake of your children try to put aside anger and figure out a way to communicate. In Mediation we work through some of the tough issues that lead to post-divorce conflict to make sure your mediation sessions end up generating an agreement you can both live with moving forward as well as try to teach you some skills that you can use as you work together to raise your children.
9. Be realistic as to your post-divorce expenses and consider that both you AND your ex need to be able to “survive” financially post-divorce. Planning for a family’s continued financial security is part of every mediated divorce and a mediator who is also a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst is trained to help divorcing couples make financial sense of various settlements and determine the short-term and long-term financial impact.
10. The divorce process is NOT for punishing your spouse. Try to remember that the divorce process is about fairly dividing assets, ensuring the ability of both spouses to survive financially post-divorce and providing the best possible situation for the children. There is no way to eliminate the complex emotions associated with a divorce but you must try to separate the emotion from the end goal.
11. In New York State fault has no bearing on how assets will be divided, how much support is to be paid or on custody. The sooner that is understood by both parties, the smoother the divorce process will go.
12. Even high-conflict couples can mediate. Couples don’t have to like each other to mediate, they just need to be smart and realize that they would both be better served by trying mediation. Despite the seeming impossibility, mediation is a very viable option in the vast majority of cases including high conflict situations. The presence of a skilled neutral party can have a powerful positive affect. The mediator provides a buffer as well as keeping both parties focused on reaching agreement –Mediators can get those in dispute talking and working towards a resolution.
13. List on a piece of paper all your joint assets including real estate, retirement accounts and vehicles and what you think they are worth. Then list all of your liabilities including mortgages, credit card debt, student loans and car loans. Start to think about how each might logically be divided. Remember- Equitable distribution doesn’t always mean 50/50. Try to think along the lines of what makes the most sense.