Lacking a good night’s sleep either during or after the divorce  or family law proceedings?  Are you experiencing a stressful divorce or family law matter?

Chances are, your sleep patterns have been disrupted by your divorce or family law matter. Here are some suggestions on how to restore the balance. 


Can’t Sleep PBedding

Health and Well-Being

O.K. I admit it: I’m a charter member of the Insomniacs Club. I’ve always been an insomniac. When you are awake in the middle of the night, it can feel like you’re the only person in the world not peacefully asleep and dreaming.

Even if you used to be a champion sleeper, the experience of divorce is traumatic enough to disrupt anyone’s sleep patterns. For some, this means sleeping all the time; for others, a good night’s sleep becomes a distant memory. And if you’re not sleeping well at night, you can’t be fully alert — let alone vibrant — during the day. It becomes a vicious circle: the worse you feel during the day, the less productive you are; the less productive you are, the more you worry at night; the more you worry at night, the harder it is to fall asleep; then the whole thing starts again when you drag yourself out of bed the next morning.

Emotional stress can be a major sleep-stealer: feelings of sadness or worries make it particularly hard to fall or stay asleep. And even if you manage to fall asleep, you may not be experiencing the “right kind” of sleep — the kind that refreshes and invigorates you.

Tips for a Good Sleep

Lighten up! A little sunshine every day helps to reset your body clock. During the long Central New York winter, try light therapy to help reset your body’s rhythm. If you’re a night-owl, sit under high intensity lights for a couple of hours immediately after getting up. If you’re asleep by 9 p.m. and up at 4 a.m. — even though your alarm is set for 7 a.m. — sit under the light in the evening, from 8–10 p.m. Light therapy may take a couple of weeks to start working, so don’t give up if you’re not “cured” immediately.

Make a sleep schedule and stick to it. Following a regular schedule helps to regulate your body clock, so go to bed and get up at the same time every day — including weekends.

Work it out. Regular physical exercise promotes sleep. The best time to exercise is four to six hours before bedtime, since it results in falling body temperature (a powerful sleep cue) when you want to go to sleep. Exercising shortly before bedtime, however, can inhibit sleep because it can leave the body temperature too high.

Soak your cares away. A warm bath raises body temperature, which then falls, causing drowsiness.

Art and Music Therapy.  Take art or music classes or simply just dabble in the arts.  Go to art exhibits and concerts.  Let music and art become part of your daily life and you may find that your stress level is considerably reduced and joy finds its way back to you.  This will help you find a peaceful rest. I started art classes after age 50 and I love it.

Eat, drink, and be merry — but stop at least six hours before bedtime. One exception to this rule is a light carbohydrate snack (no protein, please), which tends to promote sleep. Alcohol might put you under, but it causes fragmented, non-restful sleep, and caffeine after early afternoon is right out.

Create a ritual. Train your mind to wind down by performing the same bedtime rituals every night.

Relax! Learn and practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation. You can listen to audiotapes that guide you through the relaxation process, or ones with soothing music and/or sounds of nature.

Check your problems at the door. If you’re a late-night worrier (I belong to this club), take time to write down your problems and some possible solutions during the day — preferably several hours before bedtime. Keep a notebook and pen by the bed to jot down urgent thoughts.

Create a good sleeping environment. When you’re stressed out, your central nervous system is hyper-aroused. This makes it harder to get to and stay asleep, since external cues (noise and light particularly) can easily wake you up. Block external light and noise, using thick curtains or an eye mask and earplugs, if necessary. Your bedroom should also be cool, so turn down the thermostat and put a fluffy comforter on your bed.

Bed is where you sleep. Period. Don’t work, read, or watch TV in bed, and if you’re still tossing and turning after an hour, get up and move to another room. Read a boring book in your living room for a while, then go back to bed when you’re feeling sleepy. The only exception to this rule is if you’ve found a new partner: then bed is for sleeping and sex. Period.

Try herbal remedies — such as chamomile, passion flower, valerian root, or hops — for particularly stressful evenings. Before taking any medication — and this includes herbal medicines — discuss it with your family doctor.

If possible, avoid drugs that disrupt sleep, such as some kinds of painkillers, decongestants, asthma drugs, steroids, diet pills, and diuretics.

Ongoing Stress

The ongoing stress — such as facing the many different challenges of divorce? Just as love and marriage go together, so do stress and divorce. Except for the death of a spouse or child, divorce produces more stress that any other life event. It ranks so high because it includes so many major stressors — such as a change in finances and accommodations; sexual problems; and conflicts with ex-spouses, in-laws, and children, to name just a few.

If you find that stress and/or lack of sleep causing you to feel overwhelmed, see a professional or speak to your attorney about possible ways to address this.  Your health is the foundation of your well-being. Remember to take care of yourself during your divorce.

Spouse Paying Attorney Fees?

Spouse paying attorney fees in your divorce?spouse_paying_attorney_fees

It is possible that your spouse will have to contribute to your divorce attorney fees.  The Court has discretion, and the basic law is that if there is a spouse with greater resources, the spouse with fewer resources may be able to get attorneys’ fees. However, for actions filed after October 11, 2010 there is a presumption that if your spouse has more money, then your spouse will have to pay for your lawyer. That’s right– your spouse paying attorney fees. This law is somewhat complicated and is not an absolute so a motion is often need to obtain this.  It is important to note that there are arguments which can be made to oppose this request for fees.  Having an attorney make and argue a motion on your behalf is essential to getting the money you need.

The fundamentally fair concept that the playing field should be level in divorce litigation and that both spouses are entitled to a relatively equal opportunity to litigate important issues in an appropriate manner has gained considerable following as evidence by the New York State Legislature’s revision to applicable laws.

Don’t ever expect to get a free ride by having all your expenses paid. However, if you’ve tried to work things out and your spouse is playing hardball with you, the court may award you a substantial portion of your fees and costs. The court will see this as fair to you and encouragement to your spouse to try a little harder to avoid taking up the court’s time.

Contesting payment of spouse’s attorney fees?

It is also possible that you can contest your payment of your spouse’s attorney fees.  There are some arguments which go to your spouse’s income and resources which can affect your presumption to pay.  You will need an experienced attorney to make the right argument for you. It is complicated and requires a very specific presentation of the facts and legal argument to be successful given the revision to the applicable New York State laws.

Additional Blog:  The Best Representation or the Cheapest Legal Costs


The Attorney for Children, Law Guardian

Judge gavel and colourful letters regarding child custody, family law concept

What is the purpose of the Attorney for Children?

The purpose of the Attorneys for Children (hereinafter AFC) Program is to provide representation to minors in many kinds of court proceedings (such as juvenile delinquency, custody and visitation, and child protective proceedings). There are approximately 850 attorneys who serve as AFCs on panels in the twenty two counties comprising the Fourth Department.  Please note that the title “Attorney for Child” replaces the previous reference to “Law Guardian”.  Stacey Balduf has been appointed as an Attorney for Children and/or Law Guardian for over 25 years.

How are attorneys for children assigned?

Each county has its own practice. Generally, appointments are rotated among attorneys for children on the County’s panel, although Judges sometimes appoint more experienced attorneys for children to complex cases and may assign a particular attorney for children if the Judge thinks the attorney is especially suited to the case.

How is the Attorney for the Child paid?

They are paid the State of New York in many cases.  Some cases, particularly in Supreme Court have Courts which order the parties to pay for the Attorney for Child based upon their incomes.

Summary of Responsibilities of the Attorney for the Child.

While the activities of the attorney for the child will vary with the circumstances of each client and proceeding, in general those activities will include, but not be limited to, the following:

(1) Commence representation of the child promptly upon being notified of the appointment;

(2) Contact, interview and provide initial services to the child at the earliest practical opportunity, and prior to the first court appearance when feasible;

(3) Consult with and advise the child regularly concerning the course of the proceeding, maintain contact with the child so as to be aware of and respond to the child’s concerns and significant changes in the child’s circumstances, and remain accessible to the child;

(4) Conduct a full factual investigation and become familiar with all information and documents relevant to representation of the child. To that end, the lawyer for the child shall retain and consult with all experts necessary to assist in the representation of the child.

(5) Evaluate the legal remedies and services available to the child and pursue appropriate strategies for achieving case objectives;

(6) Appear at and participate actively in proceedings pertaining to the child;

 (7) Remain accessible to the child and other appropriate individuals and agencies to monitor implementation of the dispositional and permanency orders, and seek intervention of the court to assure compliance with those orders or otherwise protect the interests of the child, while those orders are in effect; and

“Best Interest” vs. “Wishes” of the child.

If the child is capable of knowing, voluntary and considered judgment, the attorney for the child should be directed by the wishes of the child, even if the attorney for the child believes that what the child wants is not in the child’s best interests. The attorney should explain fully the options available to the child, and may recommend to the child a course of action that in the attorney’s view would best promote the child’s interests.

When the attorney for the child is convinced either that the child lacks the capacity for knowing, voluntary and considered judgment, or that following the child’s wishes is likely to result in a substantial risk of imminent, serious harm to the child, the attorney for the child would be justified in advocating a position that is contrary to the child’s wishes. In these circumstances, the attorney for the child must inform the court of the child’s articulated wishes if the child wants the attorney to do so, notwithstanding the attorney’s position.



Am I a Victim of Emotional Abuse?

Am I a Victim of Emotional Abuse?  abuse

I have some good news and some bad news regarding emotional abuse.  The bad news is that if you have been emotionally or physically abused by your partner/spouse the Divorce Courts seldom if ever punish for this treatment.  The good news—you don’t have to establish abuse to dump the jerk and get everything you are entitled to!!!

Is this your life?

Has your partner manipulated you into believing that you are: stupid, forgetful, crazy, to blame for anything and everything upsetting?

Do you second-guess yourself in ways you never did before you were with this person?

Nearly one-quarter of women in the U.S. are victims of severe physical violence at the hands of their partners at some point in their lives, but nearly twice as many endure psychological aggression, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey.

Do you feel dependent, disempowered and trapped?

Financial abuse is such an effective form of control that most abusers employ it in one way or another.

Money Moves that Will Protect All Women

  1. Maintain Full Access to all credit cards, bank accounts, statements etc. Getting an “allowance” implies a power differential.  Insist that cards and accounts have your name as an authorized user.  Refuse to sign tax returns without a written copy for your personal file. Remember, just because you “only sign it” does not prevent you from being liable to whatever is in the return.  The first time this is unacceptable to your partner should be a warning sign to you….

  2. Make all decisions regarding spending and saving jointly. Don’t let anyone tell you that because you didn’t earn the money that you have no say in how it is saved or spent.

  3. Get a credit card solely in your name versus being an additional user on your husband’s account. Use the card now and then and always pay on time.  It is important to establish credit of your own.

  4. Know all the social security numbers, something solved by getting a copy of the tax return. Keep a copy of any and all important looking documents.  If possible, scan them into a computer and keep a back up drive or secured cloud storage.

What are signs of abuse:

 -Your partner is limiting your access to money and credit cards.

-Your partner closely monitors or restricts your spending

-You have become anxious about how your partner will reach to everyday expenses like groceries, gas or doctor visits.

In New York State it is helpful to be aware of a few empowering facts: 

  • Whatever is earned, saved or accrued during the marriage belongs to BOTH of you. It does not matter whose name is on it or who “earned it”.

  • Whatever is owed by either or both parties are owed by both. The debt belongs to BOTH of you.  It again, does seldom matters whose name is on the debt or who charges it up.

  • If the income or incomes fit the parameters all you have to do is, ASK for attorney fee contribution or alimony/maintenance. There is no real defense to this request.  It is NOT affected generally by any behavior; it is almost strictly monetary.

The underlying goal of all abuse is the same:  to gain and maintain power and control. However, with the right support and legal representation you can break that hold.








Uncontested Divorce


Uncontested Divorce or Contested Divorce…what do you really know?

Most people are aware that there are two main types of divorces in NY:  Uncontested and Contested Divorces.  But are you aware that both uncontested and contested divorces require a law suit and the same paperwork.  Are you aware that documents signed by the parties are only enforceable if correctly drafted or that going to Court with the right attorney can also help your case and is nothing to be “afraid” of.

An uncontested divorce involves both parties agreeing to every single aspect of the divorce including issues surrounding dividing assets, child support and custody and spousal maintenance often known as alimony.

A contested divorce on the other hand is when the parties don’t agree on one or more of the issues. Yes, it only takes ONE  issue that you can’t quite work out the details for–to make a divorce contested.

Obtaining a divorce is an emotional and stressful process. Even if you believe that your divorce will be “uncontested,” meaning that your spouse will agree to the divorce, there are many issues beyond simply ending the marriage that you have to think about before you work out your details.

Are you sure you know all the options and consequences of your choices?  That is what having legal advice can do for you.  Consulting with or retaining an attorney is always a smart thing to do. I can make sure that your legal rights are protected and can assist you with any issues that may arise throughout the course of your divorce. There are no “do overs” so you want to make sure that you get this right.

Uncontested Divorce

An uncontested divorce normally goes as such:

The parties agree to what will happen with the many items necessary to reach a written settlement or separation agreement.  These items include but are not limited to, custody, child support, alimony or maintenance, houses, cars, insurance, debts, retirements, personal property, pets.  Resolving these issues must be in the proper format and follow the NY State legal requirements. All agreements are subject to a Judge’s review.  This cannot be a document you whip up yourself. Many clients often start out thinking that as long as you both agree it can automatically be so.  Unfortunately, this is not true in NY. 

Preparing and Filing Your Forms

Obtaining a divorce in New York is very complicated and involves filling out and filing many court forms, even if your divorce is uncontested.

An uncontested divorce is still a law suit in the State of New York and follows the same requirements as a contested divorce.

You begin by preparing and filing a Summons with Notice and Verified Complaint, Barriers Affidavit and purchasing an Index Number from the clerk.  The written and filed Settlement Agreement that resolves all of the equitable distribution issues, custody or maintenance is attached.

The filing fees are the same for both contested and uncontested divorces you purchase Index Numbers, RJI Numbers and Trial Note of Issues for each type of divorce.

Serving Your Forms

You have to “serve,” or get your spouse a copy of the summons and complaint (if you filed one) within 120 days of the date you filed. An additional Affidavit is prepared and then filed with the Court that proves this service.

Your Spouse’s Response

If your spouse agrees to the divorce an affidavit can be prepared for him or her to sign or your spouse simply does not answer the papers and a default uncontested divorce can then be obtained without going to court.

If your spouse files a “Notice of Appearance” and disagrees with any part of your divorce papers, then your divorce is no longer uncontested.

Placing Your Case on the Divorce Calendar

If your spouse signed the affidavit of defendant or does not answer after approximately 40 days you can put your divorce on the matrimonial calendar.

The following forms, all of which must be prepared and are required to place your case on the court calendar are:

  • Summons with Notice or Summons and Complaint

  • Affirmation of Regularity (Form UD-5, which requests that your case be put on the calendar)

  • Affidavit of Plaintiff (Form UD-6)

  • three copies of the Note of Issue (Form UD-9)

  • Findings of Fact/Conclusions of Law (Form UD-10)

  • Judgment of Divorce (Form UD-11)

  • Affidavit of Defendant (Form UD-7, if your spouse signed and returned it to you)

  • Certificate of Dissolution of Marriage

  • USC 111 – Divorce and Child Support Summary Form.

After submission the Court will take anywhere from 2 to 12 weeks to review and sign your Judgment of Divorce.  But you are still not done.  In NY the divorce is not filed until those papers are picked up and a Certification Form is provided and they are filed with the clerk.

A Contested Divorce

A contested divorce follows the same process only since you have not agreed on all of the issues necessary to prepare a written settlement agreement you will be filing for court intervention after the initial papers are served.  You will then go to court where the process is often set up to offer the opportunity to discuss and settle issues that are preventing settlement.  Ultimately, a settlement will either be reached or a trial or hearing held where the Court will settle the issues.  Once the issues are settled the paperwork set forth above is submitted.  With the right attorney the Court process is nothing to be afraid of and will have the necessary result to complete your divorce.

It is interesting to note that the Court does not prepare even its own documents. They are provided by the attorneys.

Also see:



The purpose of the initial consultation should be to find answer the following question: Is it in my best interest to hire this lawyer for my divorce or family law matter?  This is the fundamental and most important question for anyone seeking legal representation.  Having said that how do you determine which lawyer is best for you?  I offer a free initial consultation because making sure my client and I are a good fit is crucial.  I don’t want to take a dime from you until we, you and I, are a good fit. initial-consultation-balduf

The following questions and their potential answers should help you find the best fit for your circumstances.  During the initial consultation ask  yourself…

  1. Did this divorce and family law attorney begin to lay the foundation for a successful relationship with me if I actually become their client?

Trust your gut!  If you are put at ease continue exploring the possibility of a working relationship.  If you are not comfortable or feel edgy, move on.  It seldom gets better from this first meeting.

  1. Did the lawyer demonstrate to me that they will deliver quality service in a timely and cost-effective manner?

An attorney should not talk “at you” but to and with you.  If you ask questions as to what the divorce process might look like, you should get real answers.  This is not to say that you will get advice at this stage as to the specifics of your matter (the gathering of more information from you will be necessary to discuss real specifics with you), however, the attorney should be able to go through with you how they work with you toward your goals and answer this with some detail.

  1. How will I be charged and what are the fees and costs of divorce?

billing and charging practice.  You need to feel that it is acceptable practice to discuss your bill and charges with you attorney at any time.

This issue is usually uppermost in the mind of every prospective client who sits across your desk.  Did the attorney take the time to review their retainer and the basis of how they will be compensated, the billing process etc.

Did they promise a total price or cost?  I am aware that today’s client is concerned not only with the basis for the fee but also the overall cost of their divorce.  I am quite conscious of the legitimate concern that all clients have with respect to legal costs.  Although many of the variables which affect the cost of a case are largely outside of our control, such as the actions of your spouse or your spouse’s attorney, the judge assigned to the case and how expeditiously he or she moves the calendar, I am committed to doing all that I can with respect to those things which I can control to keep your cost as low as possible consistent with rendering quality service. So, if someone promises you a total price…RUN as fast as you can.   So what is the answer, you are not made of money?  You need to trust your attorney and understand the the billing and charging practice.  You need to feel that it is acceptable practice to discuss your bill and charges with you attorney at any time.

Some additional tips regarding cost:

  • Does this attorney appear to be organized and gets to the point, indicating that they do not waste time and ultimately your resources (time is money)?

  • Does the attorney offer opportunities for you to do certain things that would result in the same level of representation and work but less time spent doing it by the attorney?

  • Did you get the feeling that being cost-effective is important not only to you but to them.

I will often explain to my client’s that I have enough clients and work that it is essential that we be cost-effective and not spend any more time on a given task or activity than is necessary to meet the standard of excellence and quality for which our firm is noted.

  1. Will we be able to successfully communicate with each other?

I’m often in court or in conference, and not able to take your call or return it right away.  But I’m exceedingly conscious of how important your case is to you, as it is to me, and I always want to be as responsive as possible to you and all of my clients.  I do not take more cases that I can give the proper amount of attention.  You are creating the attorney-client relationship with me, not a paralegal or someone else from an office.  We talk during the initial consultation what communication options are available including, phone, phone conferences, email and in person appointments.  It is so important that you will find reference to this in my retainer agreement.

  1. Is this lawyer experienced and respected in the legal community?

This one is tricky.  Word of mouth is the most reliable source.  In addition to past clients it is amazing how many referrals I get from people who I did not represent-I represented their spouses.  There are of course the reviews online.

You can also ask questions such as:

How long have you been practicing in this area of law?

How much of your time do you spend in court?  (You want an attorney who goes to court regularly and stays in touch with the courts and their practices.  You want an attorney who is not intimidated to take a case to trial if that what it takes to get you a reasonable and favorable resolution.  If the opposing counsel knows your attorney doesn’t like to go to court, they often “low ball”  offers knowing the attorney will “sell” it to their client to avoid trials.)

Does this lawyer specialize in divorce and family law?  Yes, this matters.

Does this lawyer give you options and choices to consider or just tell you what they think you should do?

See also:

The best representation or cheapest? Legal costs.
What Will A Divorce Cost Me? Can I Save Money?

How Do I Cut Ties With Ex?


cut-ties-with-exGetting a divorce or court order is only one step in moving into a new life after divorce or break up.  The real divorce from any relationship is the cutting of the emotion, mental and physical ties that bind you to your ex.  How do you cut ties with ex?

Acceptance is the answer.  The real work is in the acceptance of your new place in life.  This acceptance is mandatory and will entail being able to cut ties with ex. Acceptance comes from acknowledging that your marriage or relationship is over with no hope or wish for it to continue. Acceptance allows you to live in a way that reveals a freedom from the past. It means living in the present and the future. It takes work, but before you can do this work, you must put in place new rules that will lay the groundwork for a completely new relationship with your former husband or parent to your children. These rules are there to protect you from any further hurts or upsets. You must build a new structure that empowers you instead of disempowering you.

These ground rules are meant to protect you and prevent any situations that could lead to an upset. The less you have to do with your ex, the better. That is not to say that you cannot have a relationship with your ex, but it has to be radically different from the one you had while married or together. There are women and men who cannot have their exes in their lives for any reason other than the children. Their emotional ties to their exes are still strong, and they need to isolate themselves in order to break those ties. Others will have the ability to accept their new life and still have regular and more complex contact with their exes.  Either way setting ground rules that determine the nature of this new relationship is important.

After 28 years of working with clients separating from their exes I find that the rules originally found in The Real Divorce: Cutting the Emotional Ties that Bind, by Shelley Stile, May 06, 2008 a composite of what I tell my clients and what these rules might include:

Communicate with your ex via writing and/or brief phone calls. Keep all communication limited to only what is necessary for the kids or legal matters.

When an upset is looming or when your ex starts to speak to you in inappropriate ways, stop the conversation and hang up or walk away. Let your ex know this new ground rule: you will speak to one another in respectful ways and will not tolerate anything else or the conversation is over.

Ensure that your home is just that: your home. It is not a place to hang out with the kids. It is not your exes’ home. When he or she is in your house make certain they realizes that they are a houseguest like any other.

Keep your conversations highly impersonal and to the point. Protect your privacy. Do not discuss your fears, concerns, or personal issues, because that only maintains the emotional tie between the two of you. Don’t talk about anything that opens the door to more connections or emotional entanglements. Keep it business-like.

use you two are friends, not family members. Always insist that the subject of your ex is forbidden.

Do not involve the children in any communication between the two of you. Don’t send messages through the kids. Keep your children protected.

Stay out of each other’s lives. You don’t need to know where your ex goes, what your ex does, what your ex is thinking, or whom your ex is seeing… and your ex doesn’t need to know those things about you either.

Don’t look to your ex for advice or support. This might be the hardest tie to break. Handle it yourself by getting support from friends or family. You aren’t married or together anymore, and you will only be left disappointed.

Consider your child support or your alimony as your money and not a gift from him or an obligation. Your money, no matter how it is acquired, is your money. The courts determined that support, and it doesn’t give your ex the right to comment upon or berate you about finances. If you are experiencing any problems with support checks, take it to your family lawyer. Never beg or put yourself in an inferior position. Keep your true financial position to yourself.

Be careful of maintaining relationships with your exes’ family. Blood is thicker than water. If you have developed a friendship with a member of your exes’ family, make certain it is because you are not a spouse or girlfriend/boyfriend anymore, so do not exhibit any behavior that mimics that role. All too often, people continue to do things or relate in ways to their exes that were part of their former relationship. If your ex needs support or someone to talk to about personal matters, they need to call a friend and not you. You are not there to assist them as you did when you were together. You are not together and not their friend either, at least not right now, if ever.  Cut ties with ex and begin your new life with determination.

Contact Stacey Balduf, Esq. to help guide you in making the best choices for your future.  What you set up now will affect your life’s journey for a long time to come.

See also:





Texting During Divorce, what you should know. texting-during-divorce-balduf

  •  “Don’t worry you will never see your children again.  We are out of here.”
  • “I hate you, your kids will know all about your “friend”
  • “You deserve it, yes, I tore up your papers”
  • “If you leave I don’t know what I will do”
  • “I’m sorry it was all my fault.  I’m a mess”

Texting during divorce: Talking to a spouse or partner directly becomes so emotionally difficult you may start using text messages as your main source of communication. While it can feel easier or safer to express difficult feelings by text or email, separating and divorcing couples should use these methods of communication only if they are careful about what they are writing before hitting the send button.

When we communicate electronically, we lose the ability to hear and see voice tones, body language and facial expressions. When I see email or text exchanges between my divorcing clients, I’m usually struck by how something I consider a simple miscommunication can be interpreted by my client as a slight or some other type of threat. Oftentimes, the party in receipt of that “threatening” email reacts in a way that inflicts similar pain. It can begin with misunderstood intentions and end up spiraling out of control. This becomes even more important when it comes to texting during divorce.

All of the back and forth texting during divorce creates messages that can be admissible in a court proceeding.  This includes one you may not want to be reviewed. What if a Judge were to see all your text communications with your children or spouse?  What would they see, how would it be perceived?

Sometimes texting is the best method of communication.

The good news is that there are ways to use texting effectively:

  • Keep your response brief. This will reduce the chances of a prolonged and angry back and forth. The more you write, the more material the other person has to criticize. Keeping it brief signals that you don’t wish to get into a dialogue. Just write your response and end your message. Don’t take their statements personally and don’t respond with a personal attack. NEVER defend yourself to someone you disagree with, you don’t have to and it seldom comes out in the written text the way you will want it to.
  • Avoid negative comments. Avoid sarcasm. Avoid threats. Avoid personal remarks about the other’s intelligence, ethics or moral behavior. If the other person has a “high-conflict personality,” you will not be able to reduce the conflict with personal attacks. You will only make the situation worse. High-conflict people feel they have no choice but to respond in anger – and keep the conflict going. Personal attacks rarely lead to insight or positive change.  You could end up looking like the aggressor in a situation when it began by some conduct of the other party not seen in the text communication. You look bad, they look innocent!
  • Angry texts present an angry person.  While you may be tempted to write in anger, you are more likely to achieve your goals and make the right impression with the Court by writing in a friendly manner. Consciously thinking about a friendly response will increase your chances of getting a friendly – or neutral – response in return. If your goal is to end the conflict, then being friendly has the greatest likelihood of success. Don’t give the other person a reason to get defensive and keep responding.

Contact Stacey Balduf, Esq. and let her experience and guidance work for you.  Serving Syracuse, Oswego, Wampsville, Auburn and Central New York

See also:





children's-sake-balduf-divorceAre you really staying together for children’s sake, or are you afraid of coming to terms with your life (and in that case hiding behind your children)?

People come and talk to be at the start of a matter and begin by talking about what they think they should do for their children’s sake with this in mind, I often tell my potential clients in the free consultation you have only two doors to walk through.  The first door points to a path that continues the life you have and the second door opens to a journey that will change your life and the life of your family forever.  The first door offers a path that is familiar and the second door is gray, murky and unfamiliar.

Let’s explore the first door.  Is your current life a positive environment and example for your children sake?  If your children came to you and described their life as your life is…would you encourage them to stay together and “suck it up”? Would you suggest to them that the current life they have is what is best for them?  For your children’s sake. Is your current life the example you want to set for your children?  Whether positive or negative, marriages often follow a lineage as they are passed down from generation to generation. Remember your child’s marriage will most likely reflect what you did in your marriage and not what you tell them marriage should be.  So, might your marriage be an overall positive environment and the example you want for your children, although a challenge at times? Truthfully, sometimes the answer is yes.  The matter that brings you to the point of considering separation, after further reflection, may be something that can be affectively addressed within a marriage.  Marriage does matter. Marriage is something worth making successful…when you can make it work.  However, when marriages are not working…isn’t door two the only direction left?

When marriages are angry, conflicted, or terribly mediocre, parents often default to staying together for the purported sake of the children. I wonder whose sake it’s really for. As our children grow older, they tend to replicate relationships similar to what their parents modeled. As parents we’d never say we want our children to suffer or struggle in their relationships. Yet that’s the greater likelihood. It’s not what we say, but what we do that matters. Telling our children, they deserve healthy, respectful, and loving partnerships isn’t taken to heart if we don’t have the courage to live up to our own words. What we model for them is very much what we might expect for them in their future relationships. From this perspective we might question the sincerity of the expression “for the sake of the children.” When marriages are angry, conflicted, or terribly mediocre, parents often default to staying together for the purported sake of the children. I wonder whose sake it’s really for. As our children grow older, they tend to replicate relationships similar to what their parents modeled. As parents we’d never say we want our children to suffer or struggle in their relationships. Yet that’s the greater likelihood. It’s not what we say, but what we do that matters. Telling our children, they deserve healthy, respectful, and loving partnerships isn’t taken to heart if we don’t have the courage to live up to our own words. What we model for them is very much what we might expect for them in their future relationships. From this perspective we might question the sincerity of the expression “for the sake of the children. If we want our offspring to have joyful and successful relationships, we need to provide them with the best example we possibly can. Living in mediocrity or worse burdens children with very confusing messages about relationships and happiness. It certainly instructs them that loving marriages and partnerships are not their birthright.”   Mel Schwartz LCSW. For the Sake of the Children Divorce isn’t failure; living in unhappiness is failure. Posted Aug 31, 2015

Door two, the journey that will change your life and the life of your family forever… gray, murky and unfamiliar.  What determines whether you take this journey? This is answered differently for each individual but I can say that FEAR is what stops almost everyone who does not.

The fear of harm to the children (children’s sake), fear of not having the necessary resources to live separate lives, fear of not knowing what life will look like or fear of being alone.

My advice…face those fears.  I sit with my client the very first meeting after they retain me and we walk through the worst case scenarios.  We face the “elephant in the room”-FEAR and we defeat it.  How?  In almost 30 years I have never met anyone who couldn’t do what they have to do.  There are tools to help you, there are laws to help you, there are communities to help you, there are professionals to help you.  An amazing thing happens when you realize that you can survive the worst case scenario… anything after that a gift.  You won’t be controlled by fear your life will be directed by choices and plans. And it doesn’t hurt to remember one last fact:  Divorce is not harmful to children.  People are harmful to children.


You may also wish to see:

How do I talk to my kids about divorce?


The best representation or cheapest? Legal costs.

balduf-divorce-lawyer-costLegal costs. It always amazes me when a client tells me that they are not going to talk with me about their concerns in person or by phone because they do not want to be charged.  The comment almost always comes across as if I am wrongly charging them when I do my job.  This truly saddens me, and not because they don’t want to pay, but because they are not taking advantage of the expertise that I have to assist them.

Some of the most important issues require information and discussion and do not have easy yes or no answers.  Complicated matters require more than one meeting and an email or two to have clarity.  Yes, ask your questions, but also take the time to have the valuable discussions so that you get the answers you need and can make the choices that will affect the rest of your life.  What may seem crystal clear to you is not always as clear to others.

Yes, a divorce costs money.  I set forth in a FREE consultation- how that works.  I work very hard to charge as little as possible because I am aware that a family is splitting into two households with the same income they used for one.  This is always challenging.  But please remember, whether you hire me or any other professional…you often get what you pay for.

There is a Judge in Oswego County (New York State) who tells the parties at the onset of each divorce matter that if you are not going to listen to your lawyer or if you know better than they do—fire them and get a different attorney or represent yourself, otherwise you are just wasting what money you are spending.  This is good advice, so I am passing it on to you.

See also:

What Will A Divorce Cost Me? Can I Save Money?

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