Divorce Options

At Abramoff Law Offices, we offer divorce representation in a variety of formats.  During your first consultation, we will review your circumstances and discuss options which may be appropriate for you.  These choices are:

TRADITIONAL DIVORCE

State law and local court rules provide a procedure through which the county courts assist the couple with resolving the issues of their divorce.  While parties can settle the terms of their divorce outside of court, they may ask the judge or court commissioner to decide any issues they cannot agree on. 

In those cases, a hearing or trial will take place at the courthouse. Attorneys will assist the parties in gathering and organizing information to present their requests to the court.  If agreements are reached, the attorneys will prepare written documents memorializing the terms (stipulations) and present them to the court to become binding orders. 

If the parties are unable to resolve a dispute, they can request assistance from the court by the scheduling of a motion hearing or trial.  Child custody and placement disputes must be addressed through court-ordered mediation and with the involvement of a court-appointed Guardian ad Litem, (an attorney who represents the best interests of the children), and sometimes a court-appointed social worker or psychologist who will make recommendations to the court. In financial disputes, each party may hire their own experts, who may present contrary positions in both negotiations and in trial.   

In difficult cases, this approach to divorce can sometimes become quite adversarial.  It does, however, provided a process for resolving disputes with finality. 

COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE

Each party engages the services of an attorney specially trained in the collaborative divorce process, and enters into a contract to work out the terms of their divorce outside of court.  Exchange of information, discussion of each party’s goals, and negotiation of the agreements takes place in four-way meetings with both parties and their attorneys. 

Each party also relies on a “coach” to assist them with their personal issues, and guide them through the emotional impact of the situation.  When the family requires assistance in working out arrangements for the care and custody of their children, a “child specialist” may be engaged.  Financial experts may be jointly retained by the couple as needed. 

The collaborative process is intended to lead both parties to a mutually acceptable compromise in a cooperative and respectful fashion. When agreements are reached, the attorneys document them in memos and correspondence, and ultimately, in a final Marital Settlement Agreement which is presented to the court at a brief final divorce hearing.  

If the parties are unable to reach a settlement through the collaborative process, they must retain new attorneys, rescind their collaborative contract, and proceed with a traditional divorce.

MEDIATION

In the context of either traditional or collaborative divorce, the parties may present their disputed issues to a neutral mediator who will assist them in talking through their positions with each other and finding compromises to come to agreements. 

The mediator does not take a position, or make a decision, but will help each person to understand and consider the interests and goals of the other party and the children.

In most cases, if agreement is reached, the mediator will put it in writing.  The parties, or their attorneys, will then incorporate the mediation agreement into a stipulation to be filed with and ordered by the court.

PRO SE DIVORCE

When neither party retains an attorney to assist them in the filing and completion of their divorce action, they are said to be acting “pro se.”  The parties are responsible for preparing their own documents and working out their own agreements.  If they are unable to agree, they must present their own evidence and arguments to the court at a trial. 

The court, in most counties, will provide some simple forms, but will not provide and legal advice or assistance in the completion of the forms or the presentation of the case. This process should not be used in more complicated actions, such as those in which there are minor children, significant assets to divide or other complex financial issues. 

Even parties who choose to represent themselves in a divorce action should consult with an attorney at least once to determine whether their case is suitable for this option.  Critical, and potentially irreversible, errors can sometimes be prevented with simple advice from an attorney.

If your spouse desires to proceed  pro se, you may still hire an attorney to represent yourself, to provide you with legal advice and protect and advocate your interests.  If there will be only one attorney, that person cannot represent both parties, and cannot provided legal advice to the non-represented party.