DIVORCE

Provide assistance to individuals either with negotiations or navigating the court process regarding child support, custody, alimony, property division, or any other issues arising from the marriage.

ALTERNATE DISPUTE RESOLUTION

Mediation and Collaborative Divorce techniques are used to promote settlements outside of court.  Alternative methods of dispute resolution help 85% of couples avoid a contested court case, thus minimizing legal fees.  Using joint experts when needed, such as child specialists, appraisers or valuation experts, is part of the Integrative Law approach that promotes the family’s overall well-being.

MEDIATION is where the parties jointly retain a neutral professional to facilitate the discussions necessary to address the major issues arising from a separation.  By gathering all the relevant information in an informal process, and working through the various options for a global solution in private sessions, couples can reach a confidential agreement regarding custody, child support, spousal support and/or property division.  The couple sets the pace of the meetings, which are paid for at the time of service and not in advance.

COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE is a process that involves both parties retaining individual counsel and agreeing to 4-way meetings, where everyone will work as a team to gather the necessary information and generate options for a solution that will promote the family’s overall well-being.  Everyone voluntarily agrees to this confidential and cooperative process, using joint experts as needed, where the couple sets the pace for the meetings, which are scheduled as needed until they reach a final agreement on all issues.

LITIGATION

When ADR is not an option, or proves to be unsuccessful, an individual that seeks to either establish or modify alimony, child support, custody or property division must file a claim with the court requesting a hearing to address the unresolved issues.  Litigation is a complicated and lengthy process, which usually involves the filing of multiple court documents, exchanging discovery, appearing in court and presenting a case for trial.

NEGOTIATED SETTLEMENT

Some people are able to negotiate their own separation agreements simply by having an attorney that they can occasionally call to consult and obtain advice.  Sometimes a person will want me to negotiate the entire deal on his/her behalf.  The negotiation process is usually the first step I take to try and reach a settlement before filing an action in court, and over 50% of my cases are settled in this manner before anyone ever files for divorce.

PROPERTY DIVISION (ALSO KNOWN AS EQUITABLE DISTRIBUTION)

In a divorce case, the parties need to identify and value all assets and determine which ones are non-marital.  Assets that existed prior to the marriage or were acquired by gift or inheritance during the marriage need to be documented.  If assets were co-mingled, a party seeking credits may need to trace out his/her non-marital contributions.  In Maryland and DC, the marital assets need to be divided in a fair and equitable manner after taking into account many factors, including the length of the marriage, the reasons for the divorce, and each party’s contributions to the family.

ALIMONY

Alimony, also referred to as spousal support, is sometimes requested in a divorce either for a short-term, such as two years, until a party can be reasonably expected to be self-supporting, or for an indefinite time, which can continue until either party dies or the recipient remarries.  The latter option is most often considered in long term marriages where there is an unconscionable disparity in incomes.  There are many factors to be taken into account in determining the amount and duration of alimony, including the reasonable needs of the party seeking alimony and the other person’s ability to pay.

CHILD SUPPORT

Minor children need to be financially supported by both parents.  Each state has its own formula for calculating support.  In Maryland and DC, both parents will need to exchange (1) income information, (2) the cost of health care for the child and (3) daycare or after-care expenses, so that the child support calculations can be prepared.  The D.C. government provides a helpful on-line tool Child Support Guideline Calculator.

SEPARATION AGREEMENT / MARITAL SETTLEMENT AGREEMENTS

Minor children need to be financially supported by both parents.  Each state has its own formula for calculating support.  In Maryland and DC, both parents will need to exchange (1) income information, (2) the cost of health care for the child and (3) daycare or after-care expenses, so that the child support calculations can be prepared.  The DC calculator is available online.