Get Started With Collaborative Divorce Services
Step 1: Assess Your Needs
In Collaborative Practice, we always encourage couples to think about their personal needs, and to be cost-conscious about the amount of help they need from us. Often couples do not need all the services we offer. For example, some do not have children, and others may not own real estate or need to balance out their retirement by making transfers between accounts. Some couples have equivalent incomes that are adequate to meet their monthly needs, and some do not. Some families need to address any budget deficits they may anticipate going into two homes, and some do not. Some couples may have special concerns about helping their children through an optimal transition to two homes, and some couples have teenagers who are already in the job market and functioning well between two homes. For this reason, it’s important for us to know how we can be as efficient as possible in connecting to your needs.
Step 2: Review Your Service Options
It’s often possible to limit our help to a specific task for you, at a flat rate which can be quoted depending upon the work required. Typically, a flat rate quoted for completion of all work on a specific task needs to be paid “up front” at the time work is begun, but most often when a full Collaborative Process is needed, that help is offered on a “pay as you go, buy what you need” basis with no up-front retainer fees.
Here are some examples of what we mean:
- Drafting Services Based on Full Agreement: You and your spouse may have come to full agreement on division of assets and debt, what to do about real estate, a tax filing strategy for the future, how to pay for individual expenses for the children, and any exchange of support. Legal counsel in those situations can be of help by offering a flat rate for document preparation, court filing, and obtaining court approval for everything needed for entry of an enforceable Judgment and Decree. The flat rates quoted for this service are often between $1200 to $2000, plus court fees, depending upon the amount of work needed.
Before making final decisions, couples should think about some optimal solutions they may be missing. Read “Do It Yourself Divorce—What Gets Lost.”
- Coaching on Getting to Full Agreement: You may be close to reaching full agreement, but need some ideas on how to handle itemized expenses for the children, or how to optimize budget planning and create a sustainable cash flow going into two homes. Collaborative Attorneys can be available to help listen and provide some effective ideas on how to get there, with a limited amount of attorney time involved (1 to 5 hours). Collaborative Financial Specialists can be of tremendous value to consult on this subject, and sharing that hourly cost can be an efficient way for couples to reach agreement on all financial issues in several hours of time. Frequently couples can pay less in income tax going into two homes, by being smart about: 1) using Head of Household status; 2) using dependency credits/exemptions; 3) the childcare tax credit; 4) using dependent care plans for childcare, and other issues as well.
Again, Read “Do It Yourself Divorce—What Gets Lost,” to think about what you may be missing.
- Help with Parenting Plans: Some couples are sure of their financial needs and agreements, but appreciate input and feedback from one of our Family and Child Specialists, to help them think about how the children can have an optimal transition into two homes, and how both parents can anticipate future needs of the children. Couples who reach detailed agreements about their parenting can call themselves “parents” instead of “custodians” in the court judgment.
View a sample Parenting Plan that outlines such agreements.
- Full Collaborative Team Services. Many couples need at least a bit of help on a variety of issues and are better off starting with establishing their goals and needs, and working as they need to with a Collaborative Team. Most of their work is done with a Financial Specialist (the CDFAs, or Certified Divorce Analysts) on the financial data collection and agreements, and with a Family/Child Specialist (a licensed mental health practitioner) on their Parenting Plans and decisions. Having these experts available to collect the needed information and to help resolve disagreement on any of these subjects creates an optimal result that meets the needs of everyone in the family. Collaborative Team Practice provides an attorney for each partner, as well as expert advice from the team specialists (Financial and Family/Child Specialists) to help get over sticking points and reach full agreement. Both marriage partners are represented by counsel as their individual advocates, who submit the final agreements in the form of a Stipulated Judgment and the process is completely private – no court appearances!
Step 3: Schedule a Meeting
Once you’re ready to get started, simply fill out the informational form. By filling out the form on this website, you can help us understand your needs, and schedule an initial Zoom or phone meeting to discuss more specific information about cost and services. It is our goal to respond to this form within 24 to 48 hours (if over a weekend or holiday). Please make sure to provide your availability over the next 2 weeks, for purposes of scheduling.
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