Our strategies in representing family law clients have changed over the years. In the early days, we spent most of our time helping couples dissolve their marriages in litigation. That approach required hours of preparation, days of court appearances, and the legal fees for all that time are billed to our clients. There are still divorces that follow this path, simply because there is no other way to settle the anger, emotions, and family assets. But it doesn’t have to be the norm.
We apply our decades of experience, training, and creativity to develop efficient solutions to challenging problems, in order to help our clients reach the most effective outcomes. We look forward to helping you select a process and implement the strategy that best meets your needs.
“Litigation” is the process most people think of first when they think about marital and family law. It is also called “traditional” or “court-based” divorce or paternity. It revolves around extensive and detailed court-imposed rules, requirements, schedules, and decisions. Both spouses or parents might be represented by attorneys to help them navigate the process, one might have an attorney while the other does not, or sometimes neither has an attorney.
When one of the spouses or parents is dissatisfied with a court-imposed outcome, they may seek to have that decision changed on appeal – we also represent clients who wish to pursue or defend against a family law appeal.
Clients engaged in litigation need a trusted advocate every step of the way – and we provide that advocacy and protection.
Mediation is the use of a skilled neutral professional – the mediator – to facilitate agreement.
Mediation can look a little different in different cases, depending on the couples’ needs. For instance, spouses or parents often have lawyers representing them at mediation, but they can also choose to mediate without lawyers.
Also, mediation can take place outside of litigation – either as part of an attempt to resolve matters amicably before commencing litigation or as part of a collaborative case – but can also take place within litigation. In fact, although it is termed an “alternative dispute resolution” method, mediation has proved so successful that most courts require mediation before they will conduct a hearing or trial, in the hopes that all or any issues will be resolved without court involvement.
We advocate for and advise our clients at mediation, including helping prepare for mediation, in order to maximize the opportunity for our clients to achieve their goals.
Ellen is also a Florida Supreme Court Family Mediator and enjoys helping spouses and parents reach an amicable resolution of divorce and parenting issues when she is engaged as a mediator in family cases.
The Collaborative divorce process is an innovative process designed to provide each spouse with the advice and expertise of their own separate attorney while maximizing the opportunity to reach an amicable out-of-court settlement. Developed in the 1990s specifically for family law cases, it has since spread worldwide. In Florida, it has become mainstream through its incorporation into Florida law.
The benefits of the Collaborative process are extensive.
Most strikingly, an attorney engaged in a Collaborative process is limited to working on achieving out-of-court settlement – thereby preventing either attorney from escalating a case into a courtroom battle. In addition, instead of utilizing dueling experts, as is common in litigation, in the Collaborative process, neutral professionals are carefully recommended to provide just the assistance each couple or family needs. It brings other efficiencies, and is a respectful and private process, with all of the consequent benefits.
We help clients decide whether their case is a good fit for the Collaborative process, and, if a client and their spouse decide to use the process, we use our skills and experience to guide and advise our client every step of the way.
Clients sometimes feel that they cannot afford to be represented in their divorce or in another family law matter, or just prefer to save money by going it alone.
The risks of going it alone are many – making decisions without the information necessary to form realistic expectations, making decisions without understanding the legal consequences of those decisions, and signing or writing up and agreement without the legal knowledge to determine whether it means what it is intended to mean, to name a few – but sometimes it seems to clients like the risks may be unavoidable. We can help.
We regularly consult with clients who decide not to incur the cost of retaining us to be responsible for every aspect of their case – they only use our skills and experience on an as-needed basis. They take responsibility for their own case, while still avoiding some or all of the major pitfalls of going it completely alone.
We would be happy to talk with you about the pros and cons of this approach – just ask us in your initial consultation.