NYACP Newsletter - Fall 2020

NYACP News ~ Fall 2020

Volume 2, Issue 2

In This Issue...

  1. President's Letter to our Members
  2. Child-Parent Security Act Training
  3. 3 Vital Questions
  4. Working While White
  5. How Are We Doing?
  6. NYC Pod Discusses Microaggressions
  7. Bargaining in the Shadow or Light
  8. When Children are Estranged from a Parent
  9. When There's Not Enough Money
  10. Let's Start Talking About Diversity
  11. The Role of Healthy Skepticism
  12. Nannette Watts Tells Us About Coming Back to NYACP
  13. Arnold Cribari Gives Us Something for Fun
  14. 2021 Member Dues
  15. We Want to Hear From You

President's Letter to our Members

By Andrea Vacca

“It’s only after you’ve stepped outside your comfort zone that you begin to change, grow, and transform.”
― Roy T. Bennett

There is one common theme that jumps out at me as I look back over the events and discussions NYACP has hosted over the past few months: and that’s the willingness of our members to step out of their comfort zones both personally and professionally. Whether it’s exploring implicit bias and racism, asking ourselves difficult personal questions, having challenging discussions about the role of the law in collaborative practice or making videos for the first time, there is no question that we are a group of professionals who are willing to be uncomfortable and even vulnerable with each other. I believe that’s possible because there’s a sense of trust and support among our members.

And, given the work we do, it should not be any other way. Our divorcing clients often come to us wanting to change their marital situations, grow individually and transform their families in a way that provides as much security for everyone as possible. We need to lead by example as we encourage them to step outside of their comfort zones and:

• sit in a conference room (or Zoom room) with a spouse they may find it difficult to communicate with on their own, and share what is most important to them while exploring options for settlement;
• think creatively about those options and not be locked into solutions that a court may offer;
• think about co-parenting in a different way than they ever would have imagined; and
• take a realistic look at their financial situations as they figure out how to separate their assets and liabilities and find a way to live in two new households.

This is hard work for us as well as our clients. They may never know all the ways that we step out of our own comfort zones to be the best collaborative professionals we can be, but they do know that their experience with divorce and the long term outcomes they experience are very different from what they’ve seen others go through.

The NYACP Board of Directors also stepped out of its comfort zone this year when it made the decision to reduce our membership dues by one-third. This was not an easy decision and it only came after a great deal of thought, discussion, and examination of many options. In the end, we believe that it was the right decision for our individual members as well as our entire organization. However, we are also aware that for our dues to stay at this level we will need to increase the number of NYACP members. I’m happy to report that, since the new dues were announced earlier this month, we have already had two former members rejoin including former board member Micki McWade as well as Nanette Watts (you can read her letter below). We expect other former members to rejoin as well. But this will not be enough. We need new members to become collaboratively trained and join us as well. So please spread the word. If you know of other legal, financial and mental health professionals who you think would receive personal and professional satisfaction from doing this work, please encourage them to consider adding Collaborative Divorce to their list of services. Encourage them to learn more about how they can get trained and join us as we spread our ability to bring the Collaborative Divorce model to even more couples throughout the NY Metropolitan Area.

And finally, I want to say how much I look forward to seeing all of you at our first virtual Annual Meeting and Day of Training on December 3 (and on December 10). As a continuation of our theme of being willing to step outside of our comfort zone, we’ll be hosting this event online this year rather than in person at Braeburn Country Club. We are committed to making the most of this opportunity to be together by dividing the educational portion of the event over 2 days spaced 1 week apart, pivoting to a virtual cocktail party, bringing entertainment to the event in a unique way and adapting to our new reality in a meaningful way that still allows us to connect with each other on a personal level. We hope you will all join us!

Child-Parent Security Act Training

The NYACP presented a Virtual Zoom Training on October 2, 2020, that continued on October 16, 2020, on The Child Parent Security Act: Everything You Need to Know About This Groundbreaking New Law. The program was free to NYACP members.

Until the February 2021 enactment of the Child Parent Security Act (CPSA), New York will remain one of three states in the country with a ban on compensated gestational surrogacy. Under NY law any compensated gestational surrogacy arrangement is against public policy, all contracts regarding gestational as well as traditional surrogacy are unenforceable, financial penalties can be imposed, and felony charges can be considered.

Introduced to the NY Legislature in 2012, the Child Parent Security Act (CPSA) is a comprehensive piece of legislation that regulates compensated and altruistic gestational surrogacy, known and anonymous gamete donation, embryo donation, and parentage proceedings.

NYACP and the LGBTQI Family Professionals presented a detailed review of the CPSA discussing how this new law will impact the families we all serve through collaborative practice. The first of two 90-minute Zoom workshops on October 2nd which included an LGBTQ language and cultural component; an overview of how NY law currently defines parent and the evolving expansive definition through case law; a brief legislative history of the CPSA; and a review of the CPSA and its impact on LGBTQ family building including donor sperm agreements, recognition of intended and parentage proceedings. In addition, unique issues impacting LGBTQ couples who are separating or divorcing were discussed.

In the second workshop on October 16th, the focus was exclusively on everything we need to know about the CPSA and surrogacy, including the protections for intended parents and the proceeding available prior to the child(ren)’s birth as well as the safeguards in place for gestational surrogates. Both workshops focused on legal and mental health aspects of the CPSA.

The Faculty included Teresa D. Calabrese, Esq., Amy Demma, Esq., Bryan Goldstein, Esq., and Barbara Rothberg. The program was facilitated by Jessica S. Rothberg, Esq.

 3 Vital Questions for Collaborative Professionals

On September 25, 2020 Adam Berner moderated a discussion led by David Emerald on 3 Vital Questions as a Framework for Collaborative Practice. Mr. Emerald is an award winning author and Creator in Chief of the Power of TED (The Empowerment Dynamic) and 3 Vital Questions frameworks. The frameworks and concepts presented by Mr. Emerald enabled us to expand our tool box and provide a deeper understanding of relationship dynamics for ourselves, our clients and our collaborative teams.

Working While White

The NYC Pod on July 7, 2020, continuing with Part 2 of their June 23, 2020 discussion on Working While White - Collaborative Practice and Reflections on Racism. Focusing more specifically on NYACP, the group considered:

  • What is white about our practice?
  • What would need to change for us to welcome colleagues of color?
  • What would we do differently if we wanted to welcome (more) clients of color?
  • We will begin with some of our own reflections and considerations and open for shared brainstorming and discussion.

How Are We Doing?

The July 14th meeting of the LI Pod was an opportunity to check in: a discussion about how everyone had been doing for the past 4 months; how COVID had affected our practices and, more particularly, our Collaborative cases. We discussed whether there was a surge in divorce cases and in ADR cases, in general.

Similarly, the July 15, 2020 meeting of the Northern Westchester Pod considered, Riding the Coronacoaster: How Are You Doing? It was an informal discussion on how we and our practices were doing.
We had been zooming together since March 25th and had all experienced so much both personally and professionally. How have we been combating zoom fatigue, having fun; what have we been binge watching? we shared pandemic-related cases, and our Zoom tips and fails.

The Lower Westchester Support Group met on July 21st, with its members also checking in with each other and schmoozing.


NYC Pod Discusses Microaggressions

The NYC Pod's topic for its July 21, 2020 meeting was Recognizing and Repairing Microaggressions. Consider that the very nature of human interaction is such that we can miss each other and unwittingly cause distress in personal and professional relationships. Microaggressions are a particular kind of injury that there can be an implication that a person, based on racial identity, is not as capable, not as educated, not as likely to be a citizen. When these injuries repeat, the effect is often a chronic chipping away at the model of self at a very core level.

Bargaining in the Shadow or Light

The July 29th meeting of the Northern Westchester Pod considered, Bargaining in the Shadow or Light of the Law in Collaborative Practice ~ Let's Talk About It. Melissa Goodstein led a discussion focused on the role of the law in the collaborative divorce. The question was posed, should negotiations in collaborative divorce occur in the shadow or light of the law. Members gave their perspectives based on their understanding of the process as well as their experiences. Meg Sussman reports that, as expected, no definitive conclusion was reached, but it was an enriching and lively meeting.

When Children are Estranged from a Parent

Meg Sussman led the discussion of the Northern Westchester Pod on August 12, 2020: What to do in a Collaborative Case when Children are Estranged from a Parent? In the course of divorce sometimes children become estranged from one of their parents. The causes of this range from a parental alienation to abuse or neglect on the part of the estranged parent. How can the team help families in these situations? They spoke of the importance of engaging a family specialist to allow for a voice of the child, as well as to facilitate dialogue between parents to work together in the best interests of the family.

When There's Not Enough Money

The September 8, 2020 meeting of the LI Pod focused on When There's Not Enough Money. The parties are getting along; and willing to work with each other. But both parties admit that they have not been able to make ends meet when living together. The parties would like the Wife to be able to remain in the marital residence with the children until both graduate high school. How can they afford to live apart? They really cannot live together any longer.

Let's Start Talking About Diversity

Michelle Johnson, Esq., led the September 16, 2020 meeting of the Northern Westchester Pod discussion, Let's Start Talking About Diversity. Topics included how to encourage a more diverse professional membership base; considering a diversity statement for our organization; what other organizations we can partner with in this effort; and expanding awareness of the Collaborative process across a more diverse client and professional community. Ms. Johnson is Senior Director of Diversity, Inclusion and Community Engagement at Westchester Medical Center Health Network; a diversity practitioner/attorney with 20+ years in the area of employment/labor law, and more than 10 years exclusively in education (elementary, secondary and post secondary).

The Role of Healthy Skepticism

Sallie Mullins Thompson led the September 30, 2020 meeting of the Northern Westchester Pod on the Role of Healthy Skepticism

The topics included:

  • What is Healthy Skepticism (definitions)
  • Examples of it as found in other professions
  • Applicable situations for it in Collaborative Divorce

Following Sallie's thoughts, there was an interactive discussion on the handling of HS in divorce work, along with the language, skills, and techniques to make it relevant.

Nannette Watts Tells Us About Coming Back to NYACP

One of the prior firms I worked for used to give an annual Boomerang Award to those professionals who left, but then came back again. If NYACP had the same, perhaps I would be the recipient this year. In completing my renewal application for membership, I had to recall when I completed my training. It was in 2007. Back then, my boss paid for my membership, but when the collaborative process didn't gain momentum on Long Island and there were no cases to be had, we agreed to let it lapse. Fast forward a number of years, I started my own firm and after speaking with a few folks, decided to give it another try. After all, I am still a huge fan of the collaborative process. But, alas, as a CPA and financial neutral, I had to look at the cost benefit it's in my genetic makeup there were only a limited number of cases, I wasn't being retained on them, it was increasingly difficult to make midday meetings, and so I decided to let my membership lapse.

Around the same time, still committed to spreading the good word, I became active in a newly formed group called Long Island Collaborative Divorce Professionals. Through their marketing efforts and speaking engagements, the LICDP is making headway with educating the public about the benefits of Collaborative and I am currently participating in several new cases. With video conferencing being the new norm, I anticipate more out of court case opportunities both in mediation and collaborative but also in practice areas other than divorce. Additionally, COVID 19 has brought so many webinars, networking meetings and discussions within my literal reach.

When I received the invitation to re join NYACP at a reduced rate (with a three month added bonus), I decided the cost was well worth it not necessarily in the same cost benefit analysis as before, but in the value of the training, education and camaraderie that I have experienced with the other professional groups to which I belong. To be a sole practitioner, it is vastly important to me now as my firm grows, to have resources and like minded people to reach out to when faced with a concern I have not come across before or offer a sounding board or reality check.

I am looking forward to being part of the NYACP community once again and look forward to seeing everyone on screen, at least until we can meet again face mask to face mask.

Arnold Cribari Gives Us Something for Fun

A few months ago, at the beginning of the COVID 19 crisis, Ken Novenstern invited me to join a Videosocials club that he had started. Business was slow at that time so I thought, What the heck. Why not check it out? I did and I ended up joining it.

Since then, Melissa Goodstein, Ivan Alter, Lili Vasileff, Ken and I have been attending a Videosocials Zoom meeting once per week and making three minute videos we can post on our websites.

At one of my first Videosocials meetings, Ken made a video that had little to do with our collaborative divorce work. Instead, it was about his passion for hiking, which reduces his stress and enables him to have some fun.

Ken's hiking video got me excited. Like Ken, I enjoy going for hour long athletic walks almost daily to reduce my stress; but unlike Ken, I have several hobbies, and I periodically switch from one to the other. (My wife, Shawn, tells people that the way I switch from one activity to another makes her feel like she is married to five different men!)

Ken's hiking video inspired me to create a Something for Fun page on my collaborative divorce lawyer website. Then, I proceeded to write blogs and make videos on a weekly basis related to how prospective divorce clients can benefit, and how I benefit, by doing something for fun.

Have I piqued your curiosity? If so, visit www.westchesterdivorcelawyer.com and click on Something for Fun in the navigation bar at the top of the home page.

You can also search my name on YouTube, or click here: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=arnold+d.+cribari

Then, when you are in the mood for fun, click on Who am I (Rollin' By), and when you are in the mood for inspiration, click on Earthrise, or Oh, Good Earth.

During these troubled times, it's more important than ever for us, as collaborative divorce practitioners, to do something for fun to maintain balance in our lives.

2021 Membership Year is Coming with Reduced Dues!

Look out for your 2021 NYACP Dues invoice coming November 1, 2020. In response to input from our members, and after considerable research and serious consideration, the Board voted to reduce dues 30% to $595 starting in 2021. The reduction acknowledges the need to continue to make NYACP leaner and more responsive to our member’s needs, while insuring the organization’s fiscal health. The reduction of the cost of membership will hopefully encourage those who are interested in collaborative divorce to join and entice past members to rejoin. We are looking to our current members to assist with recruitment and actively participate in the effort so we can maintain the new dues level, or even reduce it further in the years to come.  Please contact the office if you know someone who might benefit from hearing about our events and member benefits.


As we continue to deal with the "side effects" of the COVID-19 pandemic on our daily lives, while following recommendations from the CDC about social distancing and good hygiene to save lives and flatten the curve, it’s important to find safe ways to connect. The NYACP wants to connect with you, and hear how you are working and surviving.  Please send us an update, a story, or just well wishes to your fellow colleagues.We want to hear from you, please write! And remember to follow these tips to ensure that social distancing doesn't turn into self-isolation.

  • Harmonize your home. For many of us, decluttering can relieve stress. It also may help to make room for more important things to come. Replace your bed sheets and dinner plates with brighter or more soothing colors.
  • Connect with your community. Download an app called Nextdoor to communicate with your neighbors. Volunteer or join a support group, or offer your skills and talents remotely to a senior center or charity.
  • Don’t forget friends, family...and colleagues at the NYACP! Virtual platforms like Zoom, Houseparty, and Skype help us connect with each other If you have a special event like a birthday, wedding, or anniversary, let us know, we would like to celebrate with you...virtually.
  • Love the ones you’re with. To counter any tensions that arise with so many of us working at home, try to be more grateful, forgiving, and apologetic—because life is precious. Look through photo albums or cook together. Call friends, or watch movies or a TV series together while on a virtual platform.
  • Tap into your soul. Create and listen to joyful or soothing music playlists. Learn about art or cultivate a creative talent. Start a meditation practice. These practices can help silence your mind and calm your worries.
  • It's a Beautiful Fall! Get outside. Being out in nature will lift your spirits and getting sun helps boost levels of vitamin D, which has important immune functions.
  • Take care of yourself. Exercise. Stay hydrated. Sleep at least seven to eight hours a night. Avoid processed foods and eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Flex your mind. In 1665, during the Bubonic plague when the University of Cambridge was closed, Sir Isaac Newton worked from home where he developed his theories on calculus, optics, and gravity. William Shakespeare likewise sequestered at home and many of his subsequent plays made reference to the plague. Challenge yourself to be more creative and inventive. Better yet, work collaboratively with each other. Maybe you'll come up with the next big "thing"!

Most of all, know that your colleagues and friends at the NYACP are here for you and hope to see you soon!

The New York Association of Collaborative Professionals
230 Washington Avenue Extension, Suite 101, 
Albany, New York  12203
Phone: 518-313-0420 | Fax: 518-463-8656