Working Together Through Your Divorce
Some people try to save money by going to professional nonattorney mediators to work out an agreement before hiring attorneys in divorce proceedings. While this may be the right thing to do for some people in some circumstances, it is usually better to hire an attorney mediator who is familiar with divorce and family law work. Just reaching a compromise between two numbers for say, maintenance, may not necessarily fall within the approved parameters of the law. Nonattorney professional divorce mediation does not come up so often these days when so much information is available online for people to be able to educate themselves. Other people choose to save money by hiring lawyers who practice collaborative law. This is a lawyer certified and trained to focus on settlement and not litigation. In fact, the collaborative lawyer will likely have entered into a written contract with the client in which he agrees not to take the matter to litigation either before or after a settlement is reached. This means that if the parties reach an agreement with the help of the collaborative lawyers, they will hire another lawyer to follow through with the necessary litigation to finalize a divorce based on the settlement reached in the collaborative process. Or, if the parties cannot reach an agreement in the collaborative process, then they must hire other attorneys to begin again and move forward with the case.
There has been some resistance to the collaborative process because of the need to hire another attorney to take the matter to court. This has led to the development of an informal approach to divorce sometimes referred to as a cooperative approach. When the status quo can be maintained financially and with, regard to the children, without the assistance of the court, a lawyer who is hired to represent a party may reach out to the other party’s lawyer and suggest that the parties and lawyers work together to settle all issues outside of court before either party even files for divorce. This approach, if both sides agree, can save a lot of money by avoiding court-mandated deadlines for pleadings, financial discovery, parenting deadlines and regular court status dates. If a full agreement or settlement is reached, then the case can be filed, and the parties are in and out of court usually within about 30 days or less. Even if a full agreement is not reached, when there are only a few open issues left, the case can be filed and an early pretrial conference with the judge could resolve those few issues also avoiding a great deal of the mandatory deadlines and status dates.