DISCOVER YOUR OPTIONS

Clients now have choices about the legal processes they invoke to resolve their family law disputes. 

Our practice provides an array of alternative legal service options to meet clients' individual interests and needs.

CHOOSING A PROCESS FOR DISPUTE RESOLUTION

For those with limited resources, "Limited Scope Representation” may be a good option.  This allows the client to select the scope of services to be provided, such as limiting the representation to advice/consultation, preparation of documents, representation at a specific court hearing, review of documents, and/or any combination of these services.  The Limited Scope Representation most readily allows the client to control his or her legal costs.

Mediation is a cost-effective option for clients who seek an out of court resolution, but who still want the assistance of an experienced attorney to insure informed consent and competent preparation of all required legal documents.  In mediation, the parties meet with a neutral lawyer, with the goal of arriving at a mutually acceptable resolution.  Other divorce professionals may be included in the mediation process at the clients' option, such as a neutral financial specialist or child specialist.  The parties are urged to seek advice from independent legal counsel prior to signing a settlement agreement.  They may also choose to consult with independent counsel during the mediation process.  

Ms. Cummings is a trained and experienced family law mediator who can provide confidential mediation services to a couple who is divorcing or separating, and to parties with post-judgment disagreements.  Our mediation services include preparation and filing of all documents necessary to obtain a Judgment of Dissolution or Judgment of Legal Separation, or to obtain a court-approved post-judgment modification order.  If mediation is desired, both parties must be present for the initial consultation.

Ms. Cummings also provides independent advice and/or representation to parties participating in mediation with another attorney-mediator.  This service ranges from solely meeting with a client at the end of the mediation process to review and offer counsel concerning the proposed Marital Settlement Agreement, to advising the client and assisting him or her in preparing for mediation throughout the entire mediation process.

Litigation is the traditional option for resolving very personal family law disputes, with a judge making decisions that vitally affect a family’s life, usually for many years to come.  Sometimes, because of the nature of the family circumstances, this may be the most viable option to obtain resolution.  When litigation is the best or only option, Ms. Cummings utilizes effective negotiation and advocacy skills to obtain a favorable outcome for her clients, all the while insuring the client is empowered with education necessary to make informed, thoughtful decisions.

Collaborative Practice is an out of court, respectful dispute resolution process where a team of professionals works with the parties to help them:

 

∙ Identify interests and priorities

∙ Gather information and make required financial disclosures

∙ Brainstorm options for resolution

∙ Evaluate the consequences of the various options

∙ Negotiate a mutually acceptable resolution

If the process is terminated by either party, the professionals withdraw and are disqualified from participating in subsequent court litigation.

The Collaborative Practice process is confidential, and the participating professionals cannot be subpoenaed; their work product, other than the mandatory financial disclosure forms and source documents, is inadmissible in subsequent litigation.

The team of professionals may include some or all of the following: attorneys for each party; divorce coaches to assist the parties in effective communication; a child specialist to help the parents understand their children’s needs and interests; and a financial specialist to assist the couple with financial issues.  While this can seem overwhelming, the team approach allows a couple to gain the most value for their dollar, by utilizing the right specialist, at the right rate, for each particular aspect of a divorce or separation.

Collaborative Practice may be a suitable process for your family if:

You and the other party share at least some of the following values:

∙ desire to protect the children from the conflict of divorce;

∙ honoring the good parts of the relationship;

∙ learning new skills needed for effective co-parenting;

∙ autonomy and self-determination;

∙ privacy of financial and personal information;

You face some or all of the following challenges:

∙ a disparity in negotiating experience

∙ a disparity in understanding family finances

∙ overwhelming emotions about the end of the relationship

∙ a need for legal and psychological support when in the presence of the other party

∙ a history of ineffective communications with the other party