Cost of Divorce
Divorce can be expensive. The cost of divorce usually depends on the amount of conflict, not the amount of assets a couples has. That's why I believe in spending all of my efforts to help my clients resolve their disagreements quickly and fairly - without escalating the dispute.
An Amicable Divorce
Going to court (Litigation) is not the only option to resolve legal disputes involving your family. You and your spouse/co-parent/partner can settle the matters necessary to obtain a divorce or to establish or modify child custody or child support by agreement. If you are not able to come to agreement on your own, consider entering the collaborative process, engaging a mediator, or retaining an attorney to advise or negotiate on your behalf. With the assistance of professionals committed to helping you and your partner reach agreement in a civil manner, you can have an amicable divorce or an amicable resolution to a child custody or child support disagreement.
The Collaborative Divorce Process
The collaborative process is an out-of-court settlement process where each spouse/co-parent/partner hires a collaboratively-trained attorney. The couple and their collaboratively-trained attorneys sign a Participation Agreement stating they will not go to court; that they will be transparent and forthcoming with information; that they will work together to achieve a mutually-acceptable, durable settlement agreement; and that if one or both of the couple chooses to litigate, the attorneys must resign and the couple must hire new attorneys to represent them in court. The four meet together in a series of meetings to resolve all of the financial and parental matters needed to be divorced or to establish or modify child custody and support. The collaborative process is a team approach to conflict resolution and allows for collaborative coaches (collaboratively-trained mental health professionals) who can help the couple prepare a parenting plan, assist the couple with communication in and out of the meetings, and can advise the couple on managing emotions during the meetings. Collaboratively-trained financial neutrals can provide assistance in developing budgets, evaluating tax consequences of decisions and providing information about the division of assets and projections for the future to the couple as they make financial decisions.
In the Collaborative Process, clients retain control of the pace and decision-making, instead of the court dictating the schedule and a stranger in a robe deciding the outcome. Using a team of professionals provides the support and information clients need during the reorganization of their families and allows for more creative resolutions than are possible with a judge's ruling. As a collaborative attorney, I take time to understand my clients' needs and goals and the needs and goals of their spouse/co-parent/partner. I assist clients in generating creative options and guide them through the collaborative process to achieve a mutually-acceptable, durable settlement agreement.
A mediator can help a couple talk to each other - especially about sensitive or difficult topics. Mediators are neutral. They don't take sides or offer legal advice. And, they aren't judges who make the decision. Instead, they help facilitate communication and brainstorming. Like the collaborative process, mediation involves a series of meetings between the couple and their mediator. Because the mediator does not offer legal advice, divorce mediation clients should consider hiring an attorney who can advise them. Sometimes the couple's attorneys attend mediation sessions; sometimes the attorneys do not attend. As a mediator, I create a space for couples in conflict to say what they value, to have difficult conversations, and to have the opportunity to be heard and understood in order to reach resolution.
Negotiation and Advice
Sometimes couples prefer to hire attorneys to negotiate on their behalf. Some clients prefer to negotiate with their spouse directly, but want legal advice. Other clients prefer mediation, but again, want legal advice from an attorney who is on their side. Depending on my clients' preferences and needs, I can serve as their Collaborative Attorney, as their Mediator, as their Negotiator, or as their legal representation during negotiations or mediation, providing clients with as little or as much assistance as they need in navigating their divorce or resolving their custody dispute. I am happy to assist clients in whatever settlement process they decide is right for them and their family.
Whenever possible, I tailor my fees and services to the individual client. If you'd like to meet to discuss your settlement options, please contact me to schedule an informational consultation. The consultation will take about an hour, and there is no obligation for you to hire me.
Services and Fees
LJ Pelham, Attorney at Law
Collaborative Practice Center of Montgomery County
51 Monroe Street, Suite 1901, Rockville, Maryland 20850