Dear Clients and Friends,
Commencing a Divorce matter always involves the formalities of a court filing and handling the paper work needed prior to a final judgment being officially entered.
Between complying with these formalities the parties can choose one of these routes to a resolution:
1. An out-of-court full marital settlement agreement (MSA) in which neither spouse will need to appear in Court and the non-filing spouse can even avoid responding to the petition and having to pay the $430 filing fee,
2. A mediation,
3. An arbitration,
4. A court trial.
If you choose the most common route, which is a mediation, you and your spouse will meet with a neutral third party who is looking to help you resolve your custody, property and support issues. The goal is to get both parties to reach an agreement: a legally binding Judgment of Dissolution. Mediators work with their clients in a private setting and, unlike a judge, he/she does not make decisions for you. In addition to dealing with legal and financial issues, an effective mediator is trained to help you and your spouse:
Communicate more effectively
Explore a broad range of settlement options
Reach decisions that will work best for you and your family.
There is a maxim that I have from law school: “The Attorney who represents himself has a fool for a client.” This applies as well for a non-attorney who represents his or her self. It is best to have an attorney represent and advise you throughout the Court and mediation process.
Second best is to represent yourself and have an attorney handle your paperwork and consult you before and during the court and mediation process.
Lastly, and at the very least you should have an attorney review your final agreement before signing it.
A common and important issue, that often times needs enforcement, has to do with financial disclosures. An attorney may be needed to conduct formal discovery or take a deposition on your behalf.
Generally, mediation is less expensive than traditional representation. The cost can be greatly reduced because you and your spouse are voluntarily exchanging important financial information, jointly retaining experts when necessary and avoiding the expense of trial preparation and court appearances. Mediation can also significantly reduce the time it takes to finalize a divorce.
It is our experience that divorced couples are more likely to abide by a mediation agreement than to a court ordered judgment. Final decisions are reached with cooperation and communication between both parties. This greatly helps to prevent and/or handle family and parenting issues in the years to come.
Call us for a FREE phone evaluation of your matter and to discuss how we can help and at what cost.