Triad Collaborative https://triadcollaborative.com Divorce with Dignity Tue, 26 Mar 2019 20:53:42 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Why Avoid Litigation? https://triadcollaborative.com/avoid-litigation/ Sat, 31 Jan 2015 17:12:23 +0000 https://triadcollaborative.com/?p=242 (This is an occasional column for the web-page of the Triad Collaborative Family Law Group, reporting on recent litigated cases and using them to illustrate why in general it is wiser for couples to use the Collaborative Law process rather than submit themselves to the process of the courts.)   Example 1: A case from […]

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(This is an occasional column for the web-page of the Triad Collaborative Family Law Group, reporting on recent litigated cases and using them to illustrate why in general it is wiser for couples to use the Collaborative Law process rather than submit themselves to the process of the courts.)

 

Example 1: A case from July, 2014, struck this reviewer’s eyes as a typical example of why one should avoid litigation. The case was Church v. Decker. The parties were in court, arguing about attorney’s fees. It turns out that in addition to going to trial “numerous times,” the parties had taken their case to the appeals court three times already. In connection with the appeals, the trial court had ordered the ex-husband to reimburse the ex-wife $4,500 in attorney’s fees, and the ex-husband was objecting to that. The appeals court decided that the trial court had not put sufficient details into its attorney’s fees order, so the appeals court sent the case back to the trial court for more details. And on that case goes! Moral: Is this the kind of process in which wise people want to be involved?

 

Example 2: In a June, 2014, case an ex-husband complained to the appeals court because of the amount of alimony that the trial court had ordered him to pay his ex-wife. He complained because the trial judge had found the evidence about how much money the wife needed was persuasive. But, the court found the ex-husband’s evidence about how little he could afford was unpersuasive. The appeals court gave the ex-husband no relief. The trial court’s decision about whom to believe and whom not to believe is up to the judge. Moral: In the collaborative process, you keep control and avoid the risk of the judge getting it wrong; whatever the issue is.

 

Samuel B. Johnson

 

Samuel B. Johnson is a collaboratively trained attorney and active member of the Triad Collaborative Family Law Group.

 

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A Better Method for Divorcing Couples https://triadcollaborative.com/better-method-divorcing-couples/ Fri, 23 Jan 2015 17:04:20 +0000 https://triadcollaborative.com/?p=234 Most of us get our perceptions of lawyers from TV, hairdressers, jilted relatives, domestic violence news accounts and other sensational but less than reliable sources. When we face an often emotionally charged breakup, we might think “I want the toughest, meanest junkyard dog litigator I can get.” In reality, there are no statistics that expensive, […]

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Most of us get our perceptions of lawyers from TV, hairdressers, jilted relatives, domestic violence news accounts and other sensational but less than reliable sources. When we face an often emotionally charged breakup, we might think “I want the toughest, meanest junkyard dog litigator I can get.” In reality, there are no statistics that expensive, litigation-hungry lawyers get better results.

There are two ways to walk through a marital dissolution – by agreement and through litigation. Lawyers love to litigate. They love to win in court – losing not so much – but family law clients seldom win and lose. More often, neither side is pleased with the result after trial. Both are emotionally drained and both feel they have spent an inordinate amount of their marital estate for legal counsel. Sometimes, clients feel like they lose control of the process. They go to court; nothing happens, they return, another continuance and so on. Ask any District Court Judge and he or she will tell you the courts are overcrowded. It is ultimately the client’s choice whether he or she wants to travel the road to the courthouse or pursue settlement by agreement, but if you are facing an inevitable breakup of your marriage, you should consider alternatives to litigation.

The overwhelming majority of divorce related lawsuits settle prior to trial anyway. The State of North Carolina wants cases settled before trial as a matter of public policy. There are statutory requirements that all lawsuits go through mediation before they are scheduled for trial. Where children are concerned, mothers and fathers in Guilford, and several other counties, must attend a 4-hour educational program offered by the Children’s Home Society of North Carolina called “Parenting Under Two Roofs,” attend mediation orientation, and then attend mediation itself.  These programs are provided at little or no cost, and lawyers do not attend the mediation. It is an opportunity for the parents to hammer out a parenting agreement with the aid of a well-trained, experienced mediator. Child support obligations are usually, but not always, determined by a mechanical application of a formula set out in the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines, so there is seldom a need for a child support trial.

The remaining issues, the only issues for a couple with no children, are splitting the assets and debts acquired during the marriage, and determining if one spouse or the other should receive alimony. If alimony is appropriate, then the amount and duration must be determined. These matters are also the subjects of mandatory mediation. Financial mediation, unlike child custody mediation however, is not paid for by the state and your lawyers will be heavily involved. Many family financial cases settle in mediation. While a mediated settlement is usually preferable to a trial, the settlement agreement is often hastily assembled at the end of a long day or two of negotiations. Why not use a more deliberative process where the spouses are engaged over time so they can give these all-important, life-changing decisions more than a day or two of intense consideration and negotiation?

There is a time-proven method for making both the child related and financial determinations known as Collaborative Family Law. Since its inception in 1991, more than 22,000 lawyers have been trained in Collaborative Law worldwide. In 2010, the International Association of Collaborative Professionals published survey results finding that 90% of cases settled while only 10% terminated prior to settlement of all issues.

It works because you and your spouse maintain control of your outcomes. You have the benefit of a respectful, creative and individualized process. Both of you can choose a lawyer trained in the process through the Triad Collaborative Family Law Practice Group (www.triadcollaborative.com).

Further, you can choose to involve a Divorce Coach, a Child Specialist to bring your children’s needs and voices to the table, and a neutral Financial Specialist to help you understand and resolve the financial components of your divorce. You resolve the issues through a series of face-to-face meetings, on your time schedule, and with your professional team.

The practice of family law gives lawyers the chance to be of service to clients at a critical time in their lives and in a very personal way. Collaborative Family Law practitioners offer a private, cost-effective, efficient, dignified process that allows clients and their families to have the best possible post-divorce relationships – without going to court.

Steve Robertson

 

 

 

 

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Divorce With Dignity https://triadcollaborative.com/divorce-dignity/ Tue, 14 Oct 2014 20:00:32 +0000 https://triadcollaborative.com/?p=121 DIVORCE WITH DIGNITY COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE ~ A BETTER APPROACH If you are considering separation or divorce or are involved in a separation or divorce would you be interested in a “Better Approach?” Consider a Collaborative Divorce. Why consider a Collaborative Divorce? With this method parties are able to: Protect children Lower costs ~ save money Maintain […]

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DIVORCE WITH DIGNITY

COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE ~ A BETTER APPROACH

If you are considering separation or divorce or are involved in a separation or divorce would you be interested in a “Better Approach?”

Consider a Collaborative Divorce.

Why consider a Collaborative Divorce? With this method parties are able to:

  • Protect children
  • Lower costs ~ save money
  • Maintain control over outcomes
  • Save time
  • Lower stress
  • Get better results

What is Collaborative Divorce?

Collaborative Family Law or Collaborative Divorce is a relatively new approach to resolving issues related to separation and divorce in a respectful, dignified, private manner that results in better outcomes. The process began in the early 1990s when Stu Webb, a very experienced attorney from Minnesota became so frustrated with the traditional litigation approach that he considered closing his family law practice altogether. Although not all cases are problematic, far too many become hostile, stressful, costly and time consuming.

Litigation, the traditional method of addressing divorce issues, encourages taking positions, fueling anger and hostility and closing doors to open communication and cooperation. Tragically children are often caught in the middle and harmed as a result. Costs spiral and cases drift on for years in a public forum. The collaborative approach avoids all of these pitfalls. The parties have an opportunity to participate in a result that considers their individual interests and that is more acceptable to all. Often they are able to work out results that are a win for everyone.

In the traditional legal system the goal is to reach a legal result that is as fair as the court can fashion under the law. Often the outcome dictated by the law is not in the best interest of anyone involved and no one is satisfied with the result. When families work collaboratively it is often possible for everyone to receive more of what they need.

Collaborative Family Law is interest based, not position based. The following example is the best explanation of the goal of collaborative law and an interest versus position based approach I have heard. I recently attended a workshop given by John McElwee, a national expert, who explained the concept this way:

If two sisters have six (6) oranges and both sisters want the oranges typically a parent (or the court) steps in and settles the argument by giving each sister three (3) oranges.

If the problem is approached collaboratively, the sisters (with their lawyers) sit down together and discuss why each sister wants the oranges. In this example one (1) sister wants the peels to make zest. The other sister wants the pulp to make cakes. With the traditional solution, sister number one (1) makes zest from three (3) oranges and throws away the pulp. Sister number two (2) makes cakes with three (3) oranges and throws away the peel. In a collaborative meeting they learn they can work together and each can get the benefit of all six (6) oranges. They have a win-win result.

The same principal works in resolving divorce related issues such as time sharing with children, dividing marital property, sharing expenses, covering necessary cash flow for the family, and deciding what to do with the marital home. Often when there is respectful, open discussion of each person’s concerns and goals, solutions can be found that are far more acceptable than a division or distribution by the court made without knowledge of or consideration of the real interest of the parties.

The collaborative approach concerns itself with the interests of the individuals involved rather than having them commit to initial positions. Time is taken to explore all solutions the parties and their attorneys can think of. Often creative approaches are discovered that provide a result that each party is more satisfied with. People who have a say in an outcome are more willing to live by and with the result. Far fewer problems occur later.

Parties who engage in the collaborative process hire lawyers trained in this method. The parties and the attorneys commit not to go to court. Participation and the production of information in good faith are required. All interactions must be civil and respectful. Plans to protect the children and to provide for their needs are a fundamental consideration.

With the high rate of divorce prevalent in American society today, the courts are overburdened with divorce, custody and property distribution cases. The adversarial process is lengthy, negative, stressful and expensive. Cases frequently drag on for three to ten years; costs escalate, often reaching tens of thousands of dollars. Even more devastating is the toll the process takes on the children when resentments and anger become entrenched. Respect and civility are often lost. Children are surrounded by ongoing tension and negative painful emotions with devastating consequences.

The collaborative divorce process takes less time, is far more efficient, and actively focuses on protecting the children and preserving respect and civility between the divorcing spouses. The end results crafted by the parties are more acceptable. Each person involved completes the process more intact and capable of moving forward with a positive outlook.

If you are contemplating divorce or know others who may be, consider investigating the advantages of the collaborative approach.

 

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