Episode 74 - Transcript - Mediation - Isaac Gruenebaum

By Michael Rhodes | July 26, 2022

This is a transcription of Episode 74.  The transcription was done by software, apologies for anything that seems out of whack. A link to the episode is below.

Michael 0:00
What’s up, gentlemen, this is Rising Phoenix Podcast, the podcast about how to rise up after your divorce. I’m your host, Michael Rhodes. Let’s get into it. Joining me today is Isaac, Isaac, let’s just jump right into it. Munch tell us a little bit about yourself.

Isaac 0:15
I run a first of all, thank you, and everybody that’s listening and for the work that you’re doing, I feel like divorce and especially when it comes to parenting, there’s nothing more important than knowledge and knowledge process in calm understanding way, is really what’s going to make is going to make the world a better place and divorce a much more peaceful experience. My job, and I do this professionally is, I’m a divorce mediator. Our slogan is divorce is painful, the process doesn’t have to be. And our whole goal is to make the experience of divorce, more peaceful and more of a conversation and having the spouses stick to each other and really figure out and decide what they want to do based on their interests, rather than putting it to a third party to decide. So as a mediator, we don’t get to decide, but we’re able to help keep the room peaceful, keep the process moving. And we also take a very strong focus to be able to facilitate a civil divorce. And anything else that’s needed, whether it’s a referral to a therapist or organization to be able to give that full support, that the couple together could just move on. separately. There’s there’s

Michael 1:45
some things that popped up in my head, but we’ll come back to those. I want to dive in person to what mistakes you see, I think men in particular, but but you can, you know, reference any any client, but what mistakes do you see people making when they come to you and first sit down with you and start the process or or as they’re going through the process?

Isaac 2:07
Right? So men spin specific is a very interesting topic. And I want to point this out just for understanding the point where a man realizes that they’re going through a divorce, and I’m taking I’m making this very general, and very statistic based. So nearly 70% of divorces are initiated by the woman. Most divorces, they contemplated for one to two years prior to the divorce. So that means that the average man going through a divorce had has you know is running the wife has a two year Headstart, about planning this, this out figuring out what she wants to do, and getting ready for this for that long. When the idea is introduced to the to the man, he has one to two seconds, how is he going to respond to the request of a divorce. So understanding that dynamic as well as that, in my belief, at least, you know, and I can’t say this for every case, but it takes one to two years, it’s a big decision for someone to decide to get a divorce. We have we push ourselves not to do things that are uncomfortable and for nobody is a divorce comfortable. So that means that there was a strain on this marriage to some extent. And we pushed ourselves when we suppressed ourselves in a marriage without addressing it possibly could be addressed but it wasn’t addressed. To the point where it’s someone’s leaving the marriage, the husband may be in the position still of surprising himself. So there is a very big gap as well and where they are and how they see it. So number one mistake, divorce the the outfall of the divorce, the reason for divorce has almost nothing to do with all the things that you’re going to have to mediate or go to court or arbitrate whatever you’re going to do. They don’t really have to do with what happened in the marriage. And it’s almost irrelevant. Now there are places where you can figure out how it’s relevant, but it’s almost irrelevant. I would say mixing up the two and putting both of them together is the mistake. The other mistake on the same point would be trying to make a settlement thinking that it’s going to help you out with your marriage of trying to get back together and doing something that’s gonna go above and beyond for a settlement. That’s not right. Really what you feel is just gonna throw throw in, first of all, if it doesn’t end up working out the way, the way it was planned, then you’re like, Hey, why did I settle on this? Why am I going for this? Let me redo it. As well as it’s even if it does work out, it’s a relationship that’s based on something that not necessarily you really met.

Michael 5:21
Yeah, I think it’s, it can be tough to let go. Right. And I think that’s in let go in terms of the things that occurred. So a lot of scenarios I see. A lot. I don’t know, I don’t know the numbers. But certainly some is, you know, there’s some cheating going on, and those kinds of things. And that makes guys angry, obviously. And then they reflect on things. And they get they sit down, they get some numbers thrown at them are like whoa, well, she didn’t contribute anything. She didn’t pay this. She didn’t do that. And, and none of that. Like, as you said, None of that’s relevant, doesn’t it doesn’t matter what she paid or what you it’s 5050, you know, terms of assets in general. But it can be tough to let go of that. And I can imagine yourself probably seeing a lot of that type of, you know, sort of hanging on. But what about this? And she did that? And it’s just unfortunately, it’s all it’s a business decision, essentially, right? I mean, once it gets down to sort of the brass tacks, it’s really just about splitting up a business.

Isaac 6:26
Right? If we could get everything out of the way, you know, what would divorce look like without fear? I’ve thrown like, this is a little bit of like, you know, something to think about. Right now. We’re at, like, 50% divorce rate, what happens if we reached 100% divorce rate that no marriage would go through full term? You know, everybody got divorced at some point? How would we view divorce then? What would divorce look different? You know, would it be okay, I went into this, you know, I went into this marriage, knowing I will, whatever is marital is going to be split. Right? You know, what would divorce look totally the friend. And maybe then we wouldn’t pin it on whether it was a fair or whatever it was. That’s just something to think about, like how we would see this differently. The other point I just want to make is that we’re not in a fair world. It’s not that men and women are equal. It doesn’t, you know, and whoever says it does, you know, we could go through like different examples. And I’ve done this and, you know, courses that I’ve given, they say, yeah, everything should be split equally. I was like, Okay, what happens if they have $50,000? In the bank? What should happen, then the husband work, the wife didn’t work. What would you say should happen? Oh, yeah, they should split. It was like, What happens if the husband work, the wife didn’t work, and they have $50,000 of debt? What should happen that, oh, well, she didn’t work. She you know, all of a sudden, I don’t make people say this. But like, all of a sudden, they’re starting to feel differently. A different scenario that we we like to point this out on where you know, we have to be in touch with our biases and understand where we’re swinging is. So someone says, like, Yeah, everybody should have equal custody. What about a six year old? What about a five year old? What about a four year old? What about a six month old? What about a six day old, everybody has some point where they’re gonna say once, and maybe a six day old is different. And that’s a very important thing to always remember that. You know, and there are feelings on both sides, and there are emotions and who we pity more. If someone’s going to say, well, we pity a man who led the same way. It’s just not true.

Michael 8:37
Yeah, there’s always so many different factors in this right.

In Yeah, who knows? You know, age is a factor. So how does that what does that mean in terms of custody, and you know, what’s best for the children and you know, I could get on a soapbox what’s best for children is people fucking work their shit out. But but that doesn’t happen. It’s not reality. But, but it can be tricky, because I know for me when everything first happened. I didn’t want 5050 Just for a lot of reasons. One, I think I thought Emotionally, it would help because I would see her less. And maybe that did help in some regards. I also was advised by my therapist at the time and the Children’s therapist that because of my daughter having my oldest daughter having Generalized Anxiety Disorder, they didn’t recommend like a lot of back and forth a lot of changing of, of of the home. So eventually, I got to that point. Two and a Half ish years later, we sort of slowly made the transition where I felt like it was was easier on my daughter, but, but there are so many different factors. There are so many things to take into consideration and I think this leads to the question of so What do you do then? So we know some of the things not to do in terms of bringing emotions into it trying to bring the problem into the negotiations. So what but what other than that, and maybe that is the the main one, but what are some things that you recommend people do while engaging in mediation?

Isaac 10:21
So let’s use 5050 as the example. We want as much as possible to focus on the needs and the interests rather than the position. So you know, let me use a different example. If I wanted to buy a car from you. You say $20,000, I said, I want to pay 18,000 Are we able to negotiate? So there’s this line, I think it’s Einstein said it, but a problem is not going to be solved on the level it was created, right? So on that level, you want 20,000, I want 18,000, we can’t figure this out. If we go into your need for the 20,000, maybe it’s for retirement, or maybe it’s because you wanted to buy another car, whatever those needs are, maybe you needed to rent a car for three months before you’re moving someplace. And why I want to pay 18,000, right. And of course, we both know the Kelley Blue Book number. So the more we focus on what our needs are, we could come up with so many solutions, and, and those solutions, only the two of us know, I know I need a for 18,000 You know why you’d maybe I only have 18,000. But I could pay you over, you know, I know why I needed 18,000 You know why you needed 20,000. So we need it customized to the two of us to our situation, and the mediator is not going to have the answers, they’re going to be able to work through and customize it to us. On the case of 5050 Nobody has their children 50% of the time we send our kids to school we send their kids. So we really want to focus on what type of relationship or what am I trying to do? What type of parent do I want to show up as another? Another thing that I like to tell people is like, Okay, I’m older already. But I use this as an example is like, what would my father has to do for me to spend some time with him? Regular day, regular Tuesday, what would get me to spend time with my father, I’m not interested in spending time with them. Most people my age are not really interested, you know, we have things to do. And that’s not necessarily where we’re gonna go. So what would my father have to do? Maybe he would have to take me to a restaurant that I would like, or maybe he would have to take me, you know, wherever it is that he has to do that. It’s once we reach divorce, it’s it’s a place where we really get to think about life. Think about how we want to show up as a parent. And this is something that married couples don’t do normally, and we get we get this opportunity. And we could start to think whether we want 5050 Whether we want you know, is it weekends that we’re looking for as a vacation. So we start making a conscious effort to take our kids on vacations every year. What is it that we want to do and the more we can figure that out? And the more we figure out what type of time we want to spend sometimes. Maybe it’s taking them out for dinner, but we don’t want to do the homework and let the whites do the homework. That’s important things to think about and really recreate a new agreement that we can have over here.

Michael 13:33
Yeah, I love the idea. I say this whole time, it’s an opportunity you’ll never get. I always say it in the context of working on yourself. But it’s interesting to to view it from parenting. But there is a complicate while there’s lots of complication. But there’s one one complication to that theory, I think. And it’s not that it’s a bad one. But and I think it’s an unfortunate complication is is the fact that financial I’m not sure the track I’m stumbling on the word here. But there are financial implications, I guess to to what you want to do. Right? So if I want to be you know, maybe I only want every other weekend with with a visit in the middle of the week, because psychologists and psychiatrists say that’s what’s best for my child and my or my children based on their age. However, that cost me more financially, which is unfortunate, but it is a factor and it’s, it’s, it’s a frustrating one. You know, even if 5050 I pay a substantial amount of child support. And I don’t know what they are, what the answer is to any of this. I suppose it could be. And this is this is probably outside of sort of your realm, but you must you must hear these things. I would guess. I would think that Is there if if all things being considered a 5050? If it as long as they’re not in, in poverty, then why should the other party pay just because they’re doing better financially? Like, if if they’re eating and there’s a roof and all the all the the basics and the staples, okay, maybe they have less toys at Mom’s and they do it that, like, that’s not my fucking problem that’s that’s, that’s her problem, right is her decision if she wants to lower her quality of life to provide for them, then you know, maybe she doesn’t buy our new fucking person she buys the toys for them. Right? So you can hear a little bitterness in my describing this because I think it’s kind of horseshit. But I don’t know what the answer is. But But I, but I do think that the question is appropriate. And I think that the formulas that they use, at least in Pennsylvania, where I’m at, or often stupid, for lack of a better description, but do you do you deal with a lot of this type of like this, these calculations or bullshit? Do you do see a lot of that?

Isaac 16:01
Yeah, this is one of the hardest things is the pay. And the the viewing it as paying to the ex spouse? is heart wrenching. It’s like, why am I saying to someone that, and that’s where all the feelings and all the emotions come in? So first level, like reframing it, I like to put it like, you know, and I’m going to use this, you know, I’ll just bring out another point with it. So if it’s possible to have a new relationship with x, is it possible to have a peaceful relationship? And my opinion is, yes, it’s a different religion. So people can be a great father, terrible spouse, or great son, terrible father, right? It we have different relationships and ex spouse relationship should be something different than a spouse relationship. And we have to categorize it that way. And I like to think of it like what would I do for for the babysitter of my children, or for the teacher, my children, or for for the cleaning help that I have in my house? Right? Well, I would do anything for them, you know, we need them we need we need to keep them, we need to keep them happy. And, you know, so whatever it is, and it almost, you know, the happier my ex spouse would be the happier my children for me. So that’s just reframing it in a way where we’re not anymore. You know, obviously, we have to deal with those emotions and deal with those, you know, what went on, but just reframing it in a way. Now, the real the real answer, the real answer to child support and all that. I was in a mediation training once and they asked us, if we had if we were tasked with reimagining child support, how would we do that? And I think it’s a fascinating thing to think about is like, what would I switch child support for? New York is a little different than what you were speaking about. Now, I’m thinking this from New Jersey law, the way they categorize it in the beginning is we don’t want anyone to any, whatever amount of money was allocated towards the children, it’s really the same other places, whatever amount of money from a parent’s income that was allocated towards the children, if they would have been married, we want that we need to figure out what that number is. And we want that same amount that the soldiers should not be the ones suffering by this breakup. So each spouse is going to take some hit on the money, because we’re going to have to households now, but it shouldn’t be the children suffering. So the calculations go differently, whether it’s if you have less money, more percentage will be allocated towards the children, or, you know, from New York, what I could say is, you know, one child to 17%, to children’s 25%, but a smaller break, right, you’re not so double 17%. So it’s something to really think about. Now, the part that switching the part that’s not real in the scenarios, a lot of times, you know, because maybe she is spending it on her purse or something like that. A lot of times in mediation, you could redo that because you could figure out this is generally for higher income, they would maybe split the the costs that are actually for the children, as opposed to giving money to the other spouse. That’s one way that some people do it. But yeah, it is extremely painful. But remembering where the law comes from where the idea comes from, and a lot of times there is a mediation, reimagining it, so maybe a wife would want to go go out and get a degree and be able to earn a higher income and to say, well, I need more money now but less money in the future. I need more on the assets. I can make it through college. So there’s a lot of ways that you can maneuver it. But yeah, it is painful whichever way you cut it.

Michael 20:03
Yeah, it’s not fun. If you’re the higher earner, for sure. I don’t think it’s bias against men. I think it’s just it can be in that men are typically the higher earner. But if you asked Kelly Clarkson about this, I’m sure she has an opinion about it as well. I always fall back on that. To push back on the this notion that men are getting screwed, particularly on child support. Custody is a whole other other discussion, but it’s a he and or she, that makes more ends up. getting screwed now. Custody is a factor in at least in Pennsylvania, the amount of custody will will help determine the amount you pay, but at 5050. It’s, it’s just whoever makes more. And I would, I don’t know what Pennsylvania how they calculate it. I don’t know. That’s the first time I’ve ever heard the way you describe New York like it’s 17%. Like I’m, it’s it’s so strange, because even I’ve had lawyers and they’re like, well, we’re not, you know, this is what way we calculate it out. But you know, they have their you know, it’s like, nobody knows, it’s like a magical fucking box, you put numbers in and just some shit up. But I would love to know what it’s actually truly based on. There’s some stuff that popped in. I wanted to touch on. I’m just curious about this one, because I see it on occasion in my support group, people that are either separated but staying in the same home, or I actually seen one the other day, when I might have misread it where it seemed like they were divorced, but still living in the same home. Do you? Do you see any of those scenarios? And how the hell do you deal with those?

Isaac 21:43
Yeah, like you’re touching on a pet peeve of mine. I just want to get back to because I know that this is a podcast for men. And I just want to point out something because I think it’s something that everybody has to be aware of. Yes, it’s the higher earner. But how do we look at a man that’s receiving child support? And how do we look at a woman that’s was born a man that’s receiving it, Menomonie. And we’re LM like, we are not equal and it is everything so has, you know, we just have to be aware? And yeah, that is it is what it is, you know? So how do we deal with couples that are still in the same house, or even contemplating divorce. And this is a very important distinction between marriage and divorce, a lot of people want to be married with a divorce agreement. They want to make sure that their husband is going to be paying the mortgage. Right? But we can work on our marriage, but how am I going to make sure that he’s paying the mortgage, how am I going to make sure that he voice picks up the kids on time. But at all, you know, or the other way around is I want to get divorced. But I want to be able to come by the house whenever, whenever I have free time, I want to be able to stop by to see the children, I can’t guarantee that I’m going to make the payment, you know. So this is a place where it just gets a mess, divorces, divorce marriages, marriage is such a thing as a love agreement. But that’s more like who’s gonna wash the dishes. And it’s more of a concept than you’re gonna take anyone to court over that. So you can’t you can’t really mix the two. But this transition period, what you could do is you could have agreements, you could have settlements, you could you know, and also I wouldn’t be hesitant to make the agreement and to call out what it is. I don’t believe in pushing cans down the road is going to solve a marriage. Everybody goes through some sort of you know, every marriage has ups and downs. No, no, marriage is perfect. And, but there are times, you know, when you reach the point, from that point, either something has to improve, or we have to let go. But we don’t want to stay in this marriage forever. And nobody’s receiving a prize. If you last till the end of your life. And a happy marriage, you’re not going to receive a prize. You may be buried together, but there’s no prize at the end of life for staying. It’s not a marathon, you’re the reason you want a marriage is because you enjoy the moments and you enjoy. That doesn’t mean every moment but you’re enjoying the time that you’re spending together, you’re enjoying the wife the way it is, if you’re not enjoying it, make it a more enjoyable life, because you deserve it for yourself, and you deserve it for your family. And that should be everybody’s intention to just have a good life. So being in that situation, you really have to be in touch with what are we trying to do? And hopefully you’re working together because if not, you’ll get into a fight over the couch and you know, bless the by new couch and what you know, so it’s just very difficult situation and there is no good answer unless you want to answer and you both want to answer.

Michael 24:52
Yeah, there’s a deeper conversation to be had there. I think in terms of, you know, being happy and all that kind of stuff. I totally agree. If that I think what throws me sometimes and people in general, when we have these sort of conversations, it’s because the fact that women file for the majority of divorces, the fact that Eat Pray, Love was like a big thing, right? Go chase your happiness. And you know, fuck everything else, right? It’s if you make a commitment to someone, you work it out. Now, I’m not saying that men aren’t culpable here. Do they hold space? Do they communicate effectively? No, not at all. And a lot of cases they don’t they need to own their ship to it is it’s just it’s just sad in some ways, especially if you have children. Like if you don’t have children and give a fuck what you do. You know, you said your vows didn’t work out, you know, Happy Trails see later. But when you have children, it’s it presents a hole. Because I think what it potentially can happen is it perpetuates issues down the road for them in numerous ways. So it could be the next for their marriage, and then your grandchildren are going to feel the effects. So I think it’s, it’s, it’s really complicated. And I don’t know, depending on the answer, oh, in that work on communication. And as men, we really need to do that as well. Maybe maybe in some ways more. So if I’m being honest. But for women, when you get frustrated, you know, and you have these issues, don’t bury them either. And then bring them up 15 years later, when you finally have had enough to bring that shit up before that, now, again, could be men are not holding that space to let them do that. But I think perhaps too, in today’s world and culture, the penchant or desire to throw things away. Because it’s hard, is unfortunate, for lack of a better description, but, but that again, that’s a deeper conversation, perhaps, for another day. So I want to shift to something to another conversation, speaking of sort of, like keeping the peace, so to speak, you mentioned about it sort of your part of your task is to keep things calm. And I am sure that there are moments where that must be really, really, really, really, really, really hard. How do you do that? What strategies do you take, when you start seeing this kind of stuff going on, you know, like just clashing.

Isaac 27:20
So clashing in a way is a good thing. You know, first, we want to hear what everyone wants to say. And we don’t want anyone to run into anyone over and we need everyone to realize that we need to hear the other person in order to be able to come to any agreement. I always take the approach of trying to portray as much as possible to the clients, that they’re each dependent on the other person agreeing. And in some sense, the other person is they’re judged. So the other person, you need to plead to the other person not plead not bad, but you need to put something out to the other person that they’re going to accept, because if they don’t accept it, you don’t have a deal. So if you’re gonna say, Your Honor to the other person, you’re not at a place because you need them to agree with you. I, it obviously does get passionate, sometimes less so than when they’re in separate rooms, or if you’re going to speak to someone by themselves. And that’s why I don’t do it that way anymore. But I only had them both in the same room, you know, as like a principal because it stays much more calm that way. But I do have it gets really heated. And I would just tell them, either I could get up and you know, just walk around for a second and then they realize you know that they’re paying for you know, maybe this is not the right place. But I would tell them, I love passion. Sure. I love passion. I could sit here and watch this all day. I just love it. And I just feel bad that you guys are spending money for me to just enjoy myself, you know, so I want this to be productive. And I owe that to you to make this a productive conversation. Do you feel like we have to continue on this topic where there’s anything that you need to say that you didn’t say? Or do we want to move on like how do we want to deal with this because I don’t feel like I’m doing the service to you but by all means if you guys want to do this, I’m I’m here and I’m ready to watch this. And then normally just glitches but they they realize that you know it’s not really going to help them.

Michael 29:35
I can imagine there must be moments of of of that type of just tension and I’m guessing you’ve been exposed to it enough to be able to handle it. Handle it pretty adeptly as you are

Isaac 29:53
genuine about this. This is real. This is not like you know, I’m not just saying this I really am genuine that this is what I want to do is What we’re looking at comments, this is what you guys are here for. And I am genuine that I love to watch

Michael 30:06
that. Have you ever had any agreements that you were like, Man, this is just, I know you’re not supposed to weigh in. But have there ever been anywhere you’re like, I would never agree to this. Like, She’s crazier. He’s crazy. Have you ever had any of that? I know, you can’t say anything. But I’m just curious. Have you ever had those where you’re like, What the

Isaac 30:23
fuck? Yeah. And I’m very curious. You know, as much as we don’t weigh in, necessarily, we do give the legal information to the best of our ability, just information, not advice. As well as a lot of times, and they’re even encouraged to, to review their agreement with a lawyer that’s, you know, mediation friendly lawyer that would tell them, this is normal, this, this is not normal. And if someone’s agreeing to something, really just had a lack, I would help them like, you’re gonna sit down with your lawyer, you’re gonna speak to your friend and give you a summary at the end, you’re gonna go over this, this is not a process a one day process that you’re agreeing today and you’re, you know, it’s done. What are you going to tell them? Because this is not the regular, so I don’t want you to turn this on me or turn us on the situation, and we’re going to end up with something terrible, what are you going to tell them, I want you to be aware that you’re doing something that’s out of the norm. And that could be custody, that could be child support, where I’ve seen people that are giving so much when I’m out, and we’re talking about like their budget or their apartment, and you just have money left over for your rent, like you don’t have any money to pay for anything beyond rent. Like why are you you know, how’s this gonna work out? Now, a lot of times, there are reasons that they’re doing that, and potentially reasons that makes sense. But they have to be able to articulate that to the next person that they’re going to be speaking to. And unless they’re going to be able to do that, then I wasn’t a mediator. I was the manipulator. You know, that’s how they’re going to frame me. And then I’m not helping anyone either. And I did have where the other spouse is like, Hey, what are you doing? Like? They just agreed, they agreed to give me everything plus $1. Like, why are you why are you saying this? And I thought, well, I need to do this, because my job is to get this to agreement, a place where, you know, and I can’t just let this go through without saying something

Michael 32:28
that brings to mind for me lawyers. And I’m not asking you to maybe I am give your opinion on lawyers, but maybe not outright, maybe. Maybe I can ask it in a way. You probably don’t. I’m guessing deal with lawyers as much right? You deal with the clients, but I’m sure there must be some interaction. Have you seen? If you had what you felt was a really good agreement? Have you seen a lawyer come in and derail it? And do you think I’m not trying to put you on the spot? But I guess I kind of am. Do you think that is something lawyers are adept at? And? Yeah, I’ll leave it at that.

Isaac 33:11
I’ll start out we had a date recently. It was national international be kind to lawyer.

Michael 33:20
I’m guessing they need. Yeah, we

Isaac 33:22
don’t say that about anyone else. So I employ a lawyer, who does our agreements when they don’t have lawyers, or even if they have lawyers, a lot of times we do the agreement, and then they would bring it to their lawyer to review. If you’re gonna hire a lawyer, that’s not a matrimonial lawyer, or a matrimonial litigating lawyer, and you’re gonna ask them to tear every piece of the agreement apart. You know, yeah, you’re gonna get, you’re gonna get what you asked for. And that’s not, you know, if you’re not paying your loan, yes, quick glance, and he told you three comments, those three comments like, you know, those are like, not really the point that we should have been commenting on it, just say you asked him to, you know, you ask them by the coffee shop, or wherever you met him, you asked him to give you some comments on your agreement, then he threw you three bones, you know, now that last, so it’s, it’s not always spirit to the lawyer, and this is their professional, this is what they’re trying to do. And then we have lawyers that are not great lawyers, but they’re very, you know, so they, they want the client that they get when they get a client, and that they see the money in front of them and, you know, this possibly could be a client that I can take to litigate you know, like, they do see, you know, if that’s not if it’s not a good lawyer, but if you’re gonna go to a top lawyer, again, you’re going to be putting down a, you know, a huge retainer or something. So, I believe in going to lawyers that could just to review could give their opinion. They’re not too Texas and we have a few words that we like to recommend to so one of them he runs a huge uncontested firm where they just file agreements. So he’s seen what agreements look like, he knows how to file them and give you an honest opinion, he’s gonna charge you if you want to dollars an hour, but you’ll you’ll pay that few $100 and then you’ll move on, you know, so that’s a great place to go. But you have to always be in touch with who’s this lawyer? What am I asking them to do? What do I expect for them to do and, and use your own judgment. So, you know, let me let me break this down a bit more. So we give them a summary after and, you know, after each session and the MOU after the final session, which has all their details, everything that they agreed in a more a you know, not just like a summary, but like as a final what they agreed to, they don’t sign that. So you know, we still need to incorporate into the agreement. I encourage them, take your summaries, take your you know, if you want to go towards give your opinion, on the topic, you’re gonna send with one, two pages, your MOU is three pages. So you have the bullet points, you have what we agreed to, if it seems wrong to them, they don’t like the idea of whatever it is that you agreed on, I know that you’re going to give the bedroom set. So speak to your lawyer about that. But then you get to agreement where it’s a 50 page agreement, it should all be just about the technical, like does it say what we agreed to. But if you’re going to start to negotiate over there, you’re going to start marking it up about the actual agreement when we’re just talking about marking it up for making sure it says what we said it’s gonna say, You’re asking for trouble. So I always encourage them before to focus on what you’re trying to do. Focus on who you’re taking. Yeah, that will be the advice, I guess.

Michael 36:56
Well, I think, you know, we covered everything that that came to mind. You know, I think what you do your service? I don’t know, sort of why how widespread I don’t know if Pennsylvania doesn’t? I don’t know that they probably do but it seems like it’s more especially for custody. So Pennsylvania is everything separate custody is separate from marriage and divorce, and I think alimony all that stuff, too. So I don’t know if that we have mediators, I’m sure, maybe we do. But I know for custody, you go to conciliation, and then mediation and that’s just a volunteer lawyer. I think conciliation is the same thing. It’s just a volunteer lawyer, or I think lawyers in the county have to volunteer certain amount of time or something. But we don’t I don’t know that we have a service like like you provide. So which we would do you deal with any other states or any other states? Or are you strictly because you’re in you’re in New York, you have to do New York,

Isaac 38:01
I could only take responsibility, like do it like with it with a good conscience. When I do New York, I know that I know that the law, the information that they’re going to need. And I have very quick ways to get the resources that I need. If I don’t know something. We do New Jersey as well. And we work with lawyers for that. to like be able to have the grievance, and we have access to lawyers that you know, not as quickly as New York, but we have that as well. Connecticut’s a little harder, but we’ve done Connecticut, Pennsylvania, I’ve done one. Now, it if there were more would I do it in a more professional and and get to know the, you know, the law better? Yeah, sure. There are all over, we’re not very good at marketing mediators. That’s not one of our skills. And part of it is because we’re saying, well, we can’t, we don’t really know anything, we’re not going to give an opinion, we’re not going to you know it, but what we do do is we’re focused on the conflict and how to resolve the conflict. And we’re not going to be like the lawyer saying, Hey, I could get you this because you called me up, what can I get you, I can get you nothing. There’s nothing I can write, I can get you to a place where you can, you know, so that’s the difficulty in marketing and being able to put it out and we need to do more marketing, we need to do more education more than marketing even. And it’s just education to what we do. And, and this is where, like, I You’re a podcast, and the more people that are just gonna think about divorce, just think about it, think about the dynamic, think about what it means. And the more we think about it, how do we deal with everything? You know, there’s no better way than sitting down with the person you know, and having that conversation and putting our differences aside to move on. And we just want the best for our children and, and like you were saying, like we’re gonna change the statistics, each couple that could go through in a peaceful way besides for the money that they say that they’re saving their children, they’re being able to build a better, bigger, better future. And the other thing that I do want to say for people with children, that for sure has no perfect parents, but there’s also showing your children how you deal with difficulty is something that not everyone gets, you know, if a child could see that their parents are able to put the children first, even when they felt like they were rights, you know, without having to, you know, we say put the children first, but then we try to control things that are at No, that means that she should do or he should do, you know, it doesn’t mean that we’re going to do what’s in our control and focus on what’s in our control. As well as when we focus on what’s in our control. That’s really all we could do, we can’t do anything out of our control. So I think that’s something beautiful that parents have, when they go through a divorce process in a peaceful way. It’s really taking a difficult situation, and soon it’s how you deal with

Michael 41:00
it, as someone going through it with children, it’s really hard to really, truly put the kids first and also protect your own mental health, at least in my scenario, and it’s something I struggle with. And most folks know, I’m a very open book, and it is something that I struggle with, I’m working on it, baby steps, you know, she used to not be allowed to come to my house, now she can come to the house. You know, it’s, it’s progress, I still don’t really talk to her. And so I do worry about that, you know, in my modeling the best behavior, but but I don’t know what, you mentioned it earlier, I forget at what point but you know, you talked about changing the relationship. I don’t know what this relationship looks like. She’s not I don’t want her to be my friend. She’s not my wife or my lover. So what classic? Like, where do you I don’t know how it works. Like, I don’t know, the template, and I don’t want to be super friendly. I don’t want to be like, Oh, hey, how are you? How’s everything going? I don’t fucking care how she’s doing? Oh, I really don’t. And so what how do you? This isn’t a question for you. But But this is what I struggle with. So, you know, it’s something I continue to work on. And I don’t know the answer, I know that I do want to model the best behavior possible for my children. But I do also have to check my mental health, right, I can’t pretend to be friendly, and nice. If I if that draws me back into a certain mental state of missing the relationship, you know, what I’m saying.

Isaac 42:40
And genuine is also very important. And I will couple that with like, there’s a lot of people talk about, like, body language, and how we’re gonna, you know, all that. And really, the best way to figure out that the body language is correct, is by really, really matching so to what you’re supposed to be feeling. So, you know, that, you know, as a mediator, that’s really what we always look at is like, are we really doing what we preach. And that’s really where we have to be, and we wouldn’t have to worry about our body language anymore. But being honest with the situation, that’s, that’s number one. Because if we’re not honest, we’re not going to get any other place where we want to be, but then it’s to figure out for yourself, you know, that’s your own. And when I say figured out and like, put that goal in mind, because the temptations in the moment are always going to happen in the feelings in the moment, they’re always going to happen. So we need to, and this is for everyone to decide, What’s my goal? Where do I want to be at? Who do I really want to be? And then we need to go get there and be that which is a process of its own, and it’s steps of its own. But that’s for you to determine what you want to be. And then we don’t want to get caught in the moment. Because if we just deal everything in the moment, we’re going to go to, you know, whatever’s easier in the moment.

Michael 43:56
Very true. Well, Isaac, I want to thank you, my friend for doing this. Really appreciate it. As you know, we discussed in the pre interview. The last question that I asked everybody is what words of wisdom would you impart to a man who’s just starting out his divorce process?

Isaac 44:11
I think I’m gonna say something different than I said, the pre interview, I wouldn’t really say you could only control the controllable, there is no guarantee way to stay in any marriage. And forgiveness is is stopping to expect the better past so focus on what you could control. You can’t hash out everything that happens you have to whatever it was it was and you’ll deal with that. Set a goal, go for that goal, what you’re trying to accomplish and don’t look at yourself as a failure. And know also know that as a man, you’re not going to have everything that women have. It’s not fair. It’s not even fair. And as much as we might want to change this, and, you know, they could look at you and see what you’ve done to change the face of divorce, you know, every step is something but we’re not going to fight city hall as an individual. Once we’re done with our situation, we could try to fight city hall as a community. But in a personal situation, we’re not going to change what child support is for our situation, you know, on principle, we’re not going to change our custody law, or how people are going to view them in our situation right now. We could do it later, when we’re balanced that we could go, we could go petition and all that, but it’s not it’s just not worth it to try to do it on. You know, we have to accept the rules of the game.

Michael 45:49
Great. Again, thank you, Isaac, for joining us. I really appreciate it. How can people find you? What’s the best way to reach you and get in touch with you?

Isaac 45:56
So they could find me on my website? Concord? MG dotnet. Instagram. You could I’m on LinkedIn, with my name Isaac Groenendael. And, yeah, they can call us they want. The office is 8455239 to 400. Awesome.

Michael 46:21
All right. Thanks, Isaac. I really think they will definitely do it again sometime. Thank you so much for watching and or listening. Thank you to Nick coil and lifer for allowing me to use their song born again, what you’re hearing now and at the intro to the podcast. Thank you to Justin Dillahunty and all of my brothers at the Alpha code. Please visit the website Rising Phoenix podcast.com to connect with me and other like minded men who are looking to thrive and grow after their divorce. And remember to surround yourself with people who add value to your life who challenge you to be greater than you were yesterday. To sprinkle magic into your existence like you do to theirs. Life is not meant to be done alone. Find your tribe. Take care

Episode 74 – Mediation – Isaac Gruenebaum


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