Process

34

years in law

450

mediated cases

617

children protected

750

new beginnings

“There’s magic in a round table.”

 

Effective marriages require collaboration and mutual respect, and peaceful divorces do, too. Sadly, not all marriages meet everyone’s needs long-term.  But, if both partners can commit to being his or her best self, every divorce can.

Here are the steps to peacefully restructure your family using Mediation or the Collaborative Process:

1. Free consultation to meet with Jim (separately or together, as you prefer) to discuss peaceful options and see if we are a good fit to work together.

2. Meet to discuss family-focused goals and commit to work towards meeting the needs of all family members.

3. Gather and exchange information.

4. Identify family interests and priorities.

5. Brainstorm options, and evaluate consequences of each possible choice.

6. Make agreements on children, assets and financial support so that family members are being stable and cared for. 

7. Prepare the legal paperwork that formalizes the family’s mutual agreements.

8. Closing meeting to review the completed process and sign legal papers.  

9. File legal documents.  The divorce is typically finalized within 3 weeks (with no court appearances).

10. Begin your the next chapter of your life, with a peacefully restructured family.  

 

Most couples complete their work with me in 3-6 months.

 

Mediation and Collaborative vs. Traditional Legal Process

Cost ✓ Cheaper

Mediation and Collaborative Process

 

Mediation: I complete most mediations for about $3000, including preparation of legal papers.

 

Collaborative: These are more complicated than mediated cases and so costs can run $5000 and up.

Traditional Legal Process

 

Typically a $5k minimum retainer is requested, with legal fees mounting to an average of $15,000-30,000, according to a 2006 Forbes article (not adjusted for a decade’s-worth of inflation).

Time → Faster

Mediation and Collaborative Process

 

3 to 6 months average

Traditional Legal Process

 

9 to 12 months (and sometimes much longer)

Privacy → Totally Private

Mediation and Collaborative Process

 

The process and discussion or negotiation details are kept completely private

Traditional Legal Process

 

Family issues are aired and decided in a public forum

Who wins ✓ Everyone

Mediation and Collaborative Process

 

Generally, in a divorce, all family members win, or lose, together. In mediation or the Collaborative process, all participants work together to develop win-win solutions for the family as a whole.

Traditional Legal Process

 

In the litigation process, each spouse (and sometimes the children too) have their own lawyer, focusing on only one party’s interests.  The actual goal is for one family member to win while the other loses.

Communication → Open

Mediation and Collaborative Process

 

The mediator and all other professionals involved work with the couple to improve their ability to communicate and connect.  This enables the parties to effectively discuss and work to resolve the issues facing their family. Often the emotional or psychological aspects require much more care and attention than dividing up possessions or calculating support.

Traditional Legal Process

 

Parties are usually encouraged to speak to each other only through their lawyers.  The process itself is adversarial, effectively creating walls. Emotional issues are ignored rather than carefully examined and processed, leaving the family with additional challenges to manage in future years.

Special Training → Completed

Mediation and Collaborative Process

 

It’s true that the majority of litigation cases are “settled” by the lawyers negotiating with each other.  Those attorneys trained in Mediation and Collaborative processes have a much more ambitious goal: to help clients truly resolve their issues together, in a safe, respectful, efficient dialogue that meets the long-term needs of all family members.

 

Members of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals [IACP] must commit to specialized training to learn new techniques for assisting families. Jim has over 700 hours of relevant training in mediation and Collaborative practice.  Additionally, to provide state-of-the art support for families, traditional lawyers must make a “paradigm shift” from the aggressive advocacy of litigation to a peaceful process characterized by:

 

  • Respect and dignity for all participants.
  • Direct and open communication with the other party and professionals.Voluntary and complete disclosure of relevant information and documents necessary to make fully informed decisions.
  • Use of interest-based negotiation to try to meet the needs of both parties.
  • Commitment to the dignity and the healing of the family.

Traditional Legal Process

 

The goal in the litigation process is for each party to “win”. Traditional lawyers focus their efforts on getting their client the best legal deal possible, without necessarily factoring in emotional or familial considerations.

Specialists → Ready to help!

Mediation and Collaborative Process

 

If needed to help the mediator or Collaborative attorney, specially trained colleagues are available to work with the family as needed to provide additional support and assistance with coaching, communication work, child issues, financial and tax issues and vocational counseling.

Traditional Legal Process

 

In litigation cases, lawyers may retain dueling experts on one team or the other, focusing only on one perspective rather than the family as a whole.