Divorce is extremely traumatic for most families. Its effects can be unpredictable and long-lasting. We understand how people’s minds and feelings tend to act & react during this high-conflict process. Sometimes it seems like it will never end—but it will.
When each member of the family plays the movie in their head of what happened during the marriage, they each come up with drastically different versions. It’s normal to “replay” various events and have deep resentments and wonder how things could’ve should’ve been different and better if . . . !
At Woosley Naragon, although we gather some background information, our focus is on what’s happening now and what your goals are for the near-term and, more importantly, for the long term. It’s natural to talk with your friends & family about the various & sundry ways the B and the SOB did you wrong, but we prefer for you to spend your precious legal fees discussing your new normal and learning to foster improved communication to achieve your goals for you and your loved ones. We shepherd you through this worthwhile process that tends to have many ups & downs and surprises. You will be educated during this rough & rocky patch of road—especially about your spouse!
Speaking of education, there are certain things you should know about the basic mechanics of Divorce in the Commonwealth. The process is divided into three general sub-processes, which are:
- Spousal support and/or child support;
- Child custody and visitation, including grandparent’s rights;
- Equitable Distribution (ED) of assets [not necessarily 50/50], possibly including Alimony, and the Divorce Decree itself.
There are many references you can consult about how these 3 separate areas function. The important thing to know is that each of these aspects has its own timeline and procedures as part of the whole. You might want to use our services for some of the more-complicated aspects, yet conserve some of your funds by doing certain things yourself. We’ll cogently and compassionately guide you through these critical decisions.
Woosley Naragon tries to keep the focus on your family’s future rather than what’s happened in the past. This strategy involves shifting the attorney’s role in a divorce from an adversary to a facilitator. A traditional divorce attorney constructs a set of facts into issues to present at trial, whereas a collaborative attorney assists you in developing a set of forward-looking goals while helping you to understand your spouse’s goals. Our collaborative attorneys encourage you to take a broader view of Divorce instead of soliciting a recitation of complaints. Our legal team is also careful to manage your expectations regarding a particular outcome.
Forward-looking Divorce Mediation
Mediation is our preferred method to accomplish a Divorce—and let you get on with your new lives. This alternative form of conflict resolution involves the mediator assisting both parties in negotiating a settlement. Several specific styles of mediation exist, although they all have some common characteristics. Mediation is generally confidential, meaning that only the parties who attend the proceedings will know the terms of the mediation in most cases. Mediation is also more flexible and much less expensive than formal divorce litigation [wherein the court sets the schedule for hearings, which often need to be re-scheduled because of the conflicting schedules of the lawyers].
Mediators must remain neutral between the spouses, so they can’t act as an attorney or give advice to either party. Instead, they encourage an open exchange of information between spouses regarding their goals for the divorce. This approach allows spouses to negotiate with greater openness and confidence that they will achieve those goals. Mediation often requires less time to settle the divorce since the spouses are using the same set of facts to resolve the divorce. It’s also a completely voluntary process, so either spouse can withdraw for any reason or for no reason.
Collaborative Divorce Collaboration
Woosley Naragon also participates in Collaborative Divorce, in which the spouses have separate attorneys while avoiding the uncertainty of a court’s decision. This approach to Divorce uses attorneys and other family professionals, such as psychologists & accountants, to meet the needs of the spouses and their children without the problems of contested litigation. A Collaborative Divorce is a voluntary procedure that either spouse can leave at any time. The Collaborative Law movement has rapidly gained popularity in the United States since its inception during the 1980s. The Uniform Collaborative Law Act, developed in 2009, acts as a guideline so that individual states can enact this type of legislation into law.
Divorcing spouses initiate a collaborative divorce by signing a Contract known as a Participation Agreement that binds the spouses to the process. In most cases, this also prevents the attorneys from representing their respective clients in any future litigation relating to the divorce. A collaborative process is also a common method for resolving other family disputes such as prenuptial and post-nuptial agreements, which is traditionally an adversarial process. Many couples prefer to begin their life together on an even footing that involves preparing documents consensually.
Frequently-asked Question: Should I stay or should I go??
Contact us today to learn more about how we can help guide you through the challenging forward-looking Divorce process.