Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Do You Really Need a Team of Professionals?

For some people, the leap from hiring a lawyer to hiring a team of professionals for a divorce is very difficult. In Collaborative divorces, it is common in North Texas and other areas for the Collaborative attorneys to select a neutral mental health professional (MHP) and a neutral financial professional (FP) to work with the parties.

The attorneys and other professionals divide up the work so that the best qualified people are in charge of gathering information and leading the discussions for their areas. The MHP leads in working on issues relating to children, if there are parenting issues. In addition the MHP leads joint meetings. The FP is in charge of gathering and organizing financial information for everyone.

Some people worry about the cost, others don't want a complicated process, while some feel more comfortable with a more traditional approach.

Cost. As you may know, attorney fees can be expensive. On the other hand, the MHP and FP typically charge roughly half the hourly rate of the attorneys.  In regular litigation, the attorney does all the work. In Collaborative, you have a specialist taking charge of the preliminary work for parenting and financial issues, but charging around half the rate of the attorneys who would have been doing the same work. Much of the MHP and FP's work is done directly with the parties and without attorneys being present. You get great results at a reduced cost.

Complicated.  Dividing responsibility so that the most qualified person oversees different areas and works directly with the parties is a less complicated process.  The preliminary work is done by specialists and then reviewed by all. The attorneys provide the legal overview to make sure an appropriate and enforceable order is the result.

Traditional approach.  The alternative is to file pleadings, go to court,  and negotiate with the courtroom looming in the background. You can let the judge apply a standard possession schedule and standard child support orders. The parties can exchange information through the traditional written Discovery process, which usually costs thousands of dollars before it is over. It all takes a lot of attorney time, which translates into cost.

If you happen to have a divorce where both sides are in agreement on everything, you don't need Collaborative Law. If you agree on getting a divorce, but disagree on the parenting issues or on the finances, you should consider a Collaborative divorce.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

What to do If Your Spouse Wants a Divorce -- But You Don't

Sometimes the subject of divorce comes up and people are surprised about it. Some people don't pay attention to warning signs of discontent and some willfully ignore problems that are building up.

In spite of, and sometimes because of, the inattention by one spouse, the other spouse may be sensing that it is time to split up. It is quite common for one spouse to have moved quite a distance down the path to unhitching while the other spouse is standing still.

From another perspective, some people are blissfully unaware of problems and some people intentionally put their head in the sand.

Whatever your situation is, being the "left behind" spouse is often difficult and painful.  If you are in that situation, here are some ideas for you to consider.

1.  Get counseling for yourself. Disregard whatever excuses come to mind. Please help yourself and find a counselor to work with. You can gain a lot of understanding of what is happening and what you may or may not be able to do. Eventually, you will feel better. Don't try to figure things out on your own.

2.  You can suggest marital counseling for you and your spouse. Of course, you can't make your spouse attend, but it is worth a try. The counselor may help resolve some issues or may confirm that the marriage is irretrievably broken. There's small cost with a possible helpful outcome.

3.  Listen to your spouse.  If you can have a discussion with your spouse, stop talking and actively listen to what his or her concerns are. You may not have actively listened to your spouse in a long time.  Just listen and try to understand. Combine this with the next step.

4.  Don't argue.  You may think your spouse is totally wrong about something, but now is not the time to argue with him/ her.  If you want to win your spouse back, out-arguing them is not the path. You should learn from a counselor how and when to have discussions. Your passionate argument to convince your spouse to stay will more likely drive them away.  Get some help before you discuss matters.

5.  Be kind to your spouse.  Don't discuss the divorce. Don't put up roadblocks. Don't be uncooperative. Be nice and be someone your spouse would like to spend time with.  If you have kids, be an active, sharing parent. Trying to teach your spouse a lesson or making their life difficult will not rekindle the old romance. Before you act, think about how your spouse will probably react.  Will that help you get back together?

Bonus Suggestion:  Keep in mind that the marital problems are rarely one sided. You each have contributed to the problems.  Be willing to accept responsibility for problems, but focus on the solutions, rather than finding fault.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Why There's No Free Consultation

Free Consultation?
We get many calls that include the question about whether we give a free consultation.  We don't mind getting the question and we understand why many people ask. They may think they can get a regular consultation with lots of useful information at no cost.

No More Free Consultations
We stopped doing free consultations years ago. Back then, we focused on giving out a little information and encouraging the prospective client to call us.  It became clear after a while that many people came in with no intention of hiring us. They just wanted the information.

Our New Approach
So we changed our approach. We started to charge for the initial consultation for those who want to spend time with us in the office.

The Free Part
But we still give away a lot of information. We developed an extensive web site that provides a great deal of information to our clients. Later, we added two blogs that have been running over 10 years and which have over 300 articles with information. There's no charge for the web information.

Check Us Out First
Now, we let people check us out online and decide if they like our approach on issues. They can also educate themselves on many issues.

What You Pay For
Then, if they  like what they see, they can make an appointment to meet with an attorney. We listen to you, give feedback on your ideas and sometimes do some brainstorming to come up with a plan and possible solutions. We explain the law and how it applies to your case, as well as discussing the facts of your case.

This Works!
We know this won't please the people who still something for nothing, and we're sorry we can't help everyone. For the serious people who want to hire an attorney, this seems to work well.