You have many options when it comes to deciding on how to resolve property, support, custody and access issues. The goal is to decide which one is right for you in your particular circumstances.
Preparation of Separation Agreement Co-operatively Through Counsel
This option entails both parties being represented by lawyers. All negotiation occurs through counsel and may involve four-way meetings. The goal of this process is to negotiate mutually satisfactory terms of a separation agreement. If negotiation is unsuccessful, either party may commence a court action and your current counsel may represent you in court. This could be a good option if you are unsure if an agreement can be reached and court may be necessary.
With this option, you and your former partner agree to negotiate an agreement without commencing a court action. You will both sign a collaborative agreement committing to this process and both parties will obtain lawyers that are on the collaborative panel. Both parties and their counsel will meet and try to work through the issues involved to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement. Parties have more control over the issues and the process and with the collaborative process. More information regarding this process can be obtained from our link to the Collaborative Family Law website found on our Family Law Resources page.
This option involves having a mediator sit with the parties in order to help them negotiate a mutually satisfactory agreement. This process can occur with counsel or without. Once progress notes and/or a draft separation agreement is prepared, it is review by the parties and then sent to each party’s counsel for independent legal advice and signature by the parties. This can be a very cost effective option as the parties share the costs of mediation and then only have to pay their individual lawyers for advice given throughout the process, rather than paying two lawyers to negotiate the agreement.
Mediation/Arbitration is a two part process. First mediation session(s) are held and most times, all issues are resolved. Any remaining issues are resolved through a hearing in which the mediator becomes the arbitrator and will made a decision on those issue based upon law and evidence. These orders are enforceable in Court.
As this is a private process, you have control over the dates that the hearing is scheduled rather than being on a running trial list in Court. You can be assured that, absent illness, the matter will proceed on the date scheduled. The advantage of mediation/arbitration is that you are guaranteed that there will be a resolution to all issues.
Very infrequently parties will also agree to simply arbitrate a matter without first attempting mediation. This could be appropriate if all other methods of resolution have been exhausted and the parties simply want a decision.
The final option is commencing a court action. This is generally a last resort as it is very costly and stressful for all parties. We always advise clients to do a cost/benefit analysis of the situation and possible outcomes before starting a court action. The court process can take years from start to finish and is very complicated and expensive. Sometimes court is the only option and Beth has extensive court expertise and will guide you through the process.
A Satisfied Client
A friend of mine referred me to Beth Leaper for my separation agreement and divorce. I found her service and response time to my emails and phone calls very timely. She was great with me and helped me through a very emotional time in my life. Her encouragement and her tenacity while negotiating my agreement and settlement helped me to keep going when I wanted to give up. Since she is not with a large firm, I found her fees very reasonable which was important to me during those difficult years.