I am considering a separation or divorce. What should I do ﬁrst?
In order to make good decisions, you must have good information. If you or your spouse is considering a separation or divorce, you must learn the basics
- about the law and the legal process;
- your legal rights and obligations;
- the issues to be resolved in your case;
- the possible outcomes; and
- the different approaches available for achieving those outcomes.
You should seek this information directly from a family law attorney. This need not be a expensive or ongoing representation; rather, a single, modestly-priced informational consultation is often enough to give you the background information you need. PLEASE do not rely on the well-intended but rarely accurate advice of family or friends. There is no substitute for information gained from a qualified professional.
How do I decide whether to negotiate or to litigate?
You can ﬁght or you can negotiate. Those are your choices. You can, at enormous trouble and expense, put your future and that of your children in the hands of a judge, or you and your spouse can make decisions for yourselves.
I believe that family matters are best resolved by agreement, rather than through conflict. Litigation invariably escales tension, distances family members and drains resources. An adversarial approach is guaranteed to be hard on you and even harder on your children. By contrast, cooperative negotiation can produce fair, reasonable, creative agreements in a fraction of the time and for a fraction of the cost. A negotiated solution is in everyone’s best interest. Choose to negotiate.
Can I stop my spouse from separating or divorcing?
You can certainly prolong the process of separation/divorce, but if your spouse is determined to end your marriage, you will not be able to prevent it. Accordingly, it is in your best interest to work to resolve the legal issues as favorably as possible.
At what point should I contact you?
The sooner the better, but what that means depends upon the kind of help you need. If you are seeking legal advice, you should contact me as early in the separation/divorce process as possible — ideally, even before you separate. If you are interested in mediation, you are welcome to contact me at any time for information, but you cannot begin the process, or even have an initial consultation, until your spouse/coparent agrees to participate. If you need parenting coordination services, you or your attorney can contact me directly as soon as there is a mutual agreement to engage a parenting coordinator or court order in effect.
Do you offer free consultations?
I will be happy to speak with you by phone free of charge to introduce myself, answer questions about my practice, and to gather enough information about your situation to determine which of my services would be most appropriate for you. The next step is to meet in person. Whether you are consulting with me as an attorney, a mediator or a parenting coordinator, this initial meeting will include an in-depth discussion of the facts of your case, a thorough explanation of the legal/mediation/parenting coordination process, and substantive advice, guidance and direction. You will leave this meeting with a clear understanding of what lies ahead and realistic expectations, which will serve you well regardless of whether you engage me. There is a fee for this initial consultation.
What are your offce hours?
I meet with clients Monday through Friday between 8:00am and 3:00pm, but will do my best to accommodate your schedule if you are unavailable during those hours.
How much will my divorce cost?
Every divorce process is different. It is therefore impossible to state in advance how long yours will take or how much it will cost. Once I know the facts of your particular situation, I may be able to provide a rough estimate of the cost of my role — whether as attorney, mediator or parenting coordinator. Under any circumstances, the cost of my services will be a fraction of the average per person cost of a contested divorce, which can range from $30,000 to several hundred thousand dollars.
Do you take a retainer?
I prefer the term “advance deposit”. For clients seeking legal services there is no advance deposit or payment required prior to our initial meeting. If you engage me to represent you, I will require an advance deposit, the amount of which will depend upon the work for which I am engaged.
For clients who wish to mediate, there is no advance payment required prior to our initial meeting. If you engage me as your mediator, I will require an advance deposit to guarantee payment in the event of nonappearance. You will pay for each mediation session as you go. If you want me to prepare a written Memorandum of Agreement or Marital Settlement Agreement, I will require another advance deposit to guarantee payment of the fee for that work.
Parenting coordination clients must make an advance deposit prior to our intial meeting.
In every case, funds that remain on deposit at the conclusion of my engagement are refunded in full.
Isn’t it depressing to handle divorce and other family problems?
If I had a nickel for every time I’ve been asked this question! In fact, I ﬁnd my work to be anything but depressing. Serving as an attorney, a mediator, or a parenting coordinator is a privilege, and gives me the opportunity to make a meaningful difference in the lives of people I inevitably come to care about. I ﬁnd it profoundly gratifying to help clients successfully navigate the divorce experience, and take special satisfaction in devising creative, practical solutions that meet the needs of all parties and keep individuals and families out of court.