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Why Do I Love What I Do?

by Joy Rosenthal
July 2017 Joy Rosenthal

Our families grow and change over our lifetimes. We transition from the family we were born into to the ones we create. We form different types of families by falling in love, by having babies, by adopting children, by divorcing, by being step-parents, by having (or being) God parents, or by treating extended family like our own. Our children grow up and leave, our parents may move in with us. As a result, the idea of the nuclear family is becoming more and more obsolete. I’ve always been fascinated by these myriad different configurations, and by how our families grow and change.

I see myself as a shepherd—to assist people with these family transitions. I try to help people be mindful about the processes they are using, and to make these changes in a way that is creative and supportive and as smooth as possible. And it is an honor and a privilege to do so. Here are some examples of the work that I do:

  • When I do adoptions, I help parents form legal relationships with the children they already love.
  • When I mediate prenuptial agreements, I help couples be mindful about their financial futures.
  • When I work as a divorce mediator or collaborative lawyer, I help couples separate in as stable and gentle a way as possible.
  • When I work as a guardian or trustee, I protect the rights of people who can’t care for themselves.

I started my legal career by representing children who were in foster care when their parents were not able to care for them adequately. And in doing so, I realized that children can be fiercely loyal to both their birth parents and their foster parents. Children want and need the structure and consistency of a loving home. They care less about external labels than about their actual family relationships. I developed a way of looking at the world and the people that care for them through a child’s perspective.

Adoptions strengthen children’s relationships with their families. I focus on second parent, stepparent, and foster parent adoptions—in other words, legal recognition of a bond that already exists. I know this also brings stability and reassurance into children’s lives, which solidifies their relationship with the grownups who love them.

Prenuptial agreements help to clarify expectations about the disposition of separate and joint property, and helps two households become one.

The mediation or collaborative process helps to strengthen children’s relationship with both parents, and help children stay out of the middle of family conflict. My background as a child’s attorney helps me to be mindful of their children’s loyalty to each parent as I work on divorces now.

When I act as a court appointed guardian, I protect the needs of those who cannot speak for themselves.

My dad, who was a doctor, told me that I could do well and do good at the same time. Why do I love what I do? Because I’ve been able to create a career proving that he was right! I hope you’ll join me for my next posts where I will delve a little deeper into each of my practice areas. 

Biography


Joy S. Rosenthal, Esq. is a compassionate mediator, a skilled negotiator and an intelligent litigator with extensive background in the private and public sectors. Joy served as a Staff Attorney at the Legal Aid Society's Juvenile Rights Division for nearly 10 years, where she represented hundreds of children and teenagers in foster care, child welfare, custody, adoption, PINS (Person in Need of Supervision) and delinquency cases in the Bronx and in Brooklyn. Joy was honored to be selected for a one year fellowship at New York University School of Law's Family Defense Clinic, teaching law students to represent parents in child welfare proceedings. Joy founded Rosenthal Law & Mediation in 2006. The firm's practice centers on family and estates law, as well as family-based mediation. In addition to her private practice, she mediates custody and visitation disputes for the New York City Family Courts and serves as a Guardian Ad Litem, protecting the rights of youth and the disabled in New York City Surrogates Courts. She also serves as President of the Board of Directors of the Family and Divorce Mediation Council.

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