Clients who come to see me are interested in resolving their issues outside of court through negotiation. I believe it helps to provide them with a road map of what steps we will follow and a general flow of the stages we usually follow.
1. What are the key elements that need to be addressed in your situation?
2. What are your goals? Interests? Concerns?
3. What process is most consistent with your interests and goals?
4. Getting started with the process and engaging professionals (attorneys, mental health, financial, other?)
5. Signing any applicable process arrangements
6. Gathering relevant information – review case disclosure
7. Pressing issues
8. If parties are living under one roof, parameters to reduce stress in the interim
9. Whether interim, partial, or full written settlement agreement is needed and/or desired before parties separate?
10. Interim financial issues
– Life insurance
– Cash flow
– Payment for process
– Estate Planning
– Living Will
– Power of Attorney
– Cash Liquidity
11. What issues have parties tentatively agreed upon, if any?
12. What remains?
13. What are priorities in terms of importance of remaining issues?
14. Stages for working through any issue:
– Express Interests/Goals, Collect information, Brainstorm options, Evaluate options
15. Penciling in tentative agreements as they occur
16. Sketch of full settlement
17. Drafting settlement*
18. Further negotiations to fine-tune agreement
19. Finalizing settlement document*
20. Court papers (if applicable) – usually full settlement is incorporated when divorced*
Reaching a durable settlement agreement that resolves all the issues is 95% of the work. If obtaining a divorce, and a full settlement agreement has been signed, there are uncontested divorce procedures that can be followed. Using these procedures, the divorce can be obtained more quickly and the divorce can be achieved by filing various documents with the court, including written affidavits and the settlement agreement, resulting in a divorce order signed by the judge.
*Role of Attorney and Role of Mediator are separate and distinct; depending on the process and the professionals involved, responsibility for the legal documents may differ.