If you are considering dissolution of your marriage, we provide options. The approaches can be tailored to your needs.
Mediation is a process where both parties confer with a single person – the mediator – who attempts to assist the parties in achieving a settlement of the issues in their divorce. The parties may, or may not, choose to consult with their own attorney. The mediator may, or may not, be an attorney. Mediators who are not attorneys should not provide legal advice. The mediator’s role is to help facilitate a settlement that the parties are satisfied with. Generally, mediators will assist the parties with the required court forms, and draft the Marital Settlement Agreement, or Judgment, if the parties achieve a settlement. The mediator does not act as either party’s attorney, so, again, unless you know the details about the marital assets, or your spouse is completely forthcoming, there is risk associated with this method. The advantages are that the cost is generally less than with traditional dissolution methods. If settlement is not achieved, then court will be necessary. This alternative is risky when one spouse is less financially sophisticated than the other spouse, when one spouse knows substantially more about the community assets than the other, or when one spouse may bully the other. This method is not successful unless the parties trust each other and both desire to be fair.
Traditional Dissolution Method
With this approach, one or both parties retain an attorney. The attorney represents the interests of the client. The traditional approach does not mean you have to litigate. Most cases settle. Most clients never see the inside of a courtroom. There are four people who control the direction, cost and duration of the case – two parties and two attorneys. If both clients select attorneys who are reasonable and constructive in their approach, the case has a very high likelihood of an efficient and amiable resolution.
Consistent with this method, lawyers can explore amiable settlement through the use of private settlement judges, four-way settlement conferences, the use of joint experts and other creative proactive approaches.
If the case does not settle, the parties go to court. These issues can include child custody, child support, spousal support, asset division, and an award of attorney’s fees. Often, experts will be required to help prove your case, for instance, when you need to prove the value of a business.