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Divorce Settlement Services

Attorney as Mediator, Scribe and Court Liaison

You know you are headed to Family Court, but it’s not World War III. You and your spouse (or “Ex”) are acting like adults and still respect each other and have been considering trying to do it “without lawyers”. So you’ve picked up the Court forms and read the statutes and done some research online, and you’ve spoken to everyone you know who’s been through a similar process. You may still be confused about how to begin, or uncertain how to reach an agreement if you don’t already have one, or not have the foggiest idea how to draft the final paperwork once you have an agreement. You may not like the idea of going to Court without assistance. You don’t want to fight, you don’t want to miss anything, and you don’t want to spend more than you have to. We can help.

Thanks to the not-so-recent changes in the law which permit Maine lawyers to provide “unbundled legal services” we can now choose not to represent either side in a family law matter and may, instead, assist the parties through the process from start to finish, acting a a "neutral". 

In a three-way agreement the jointly retained neutral and the two parties agree that the neutral will provide three essential services: first as mediator, trying to facilitate an agreement between the parties. Second, the neutral either prepares or helps prepare all paperwork necessary or desirable. Third, the neutral can take responsibility for all communication with the Court, including scheduling. The neutral lawyer's role does not include giving legal advice to either party against the other.  The parties may hire their own lawyers to fulfil that role, if they so desire.  The goals of this arrangement include having the clients maintain control over the process, reducing stress and saving money.

In this three-way agreement both parties promise to cooperate and voluntarily provide all information. They also agree that, if it all falls apart, the neutral cannot represent either one of them (they either have to get their own lawyers or go it alone through the litigation route). Additionally, the neutral couldn’t be called as a witness by either side if no settlement agreement can be reached and the parties end up fighting in Court.

Assuming that mediation is successful, both parties will be given the opportunity and encouraged to review the proposed settlement with their own independent counsel before anything is final.

This process makes sense for many couples and it provides a higher rate of satisfaction when compared with the alternative.

Note that we can draw upon the resources of other experts (who would be working for both parties) when there’s the need, such as an accountant, or an appraiser, or a Guardian Ad Litem if there are contested issues involving parental rights and responsibilities. A co-parenting coach is sometimes the best choice.

Even if you can’t reach a complete agreement on all issues we can narrow the issues for trial or set up the decisions which need to be made by a Judge, Magistrate or Referee in a no-nonsense, low drama, cost-effective manner.

Give us a call if you think our Family Law Settlement Services may work for you. As might be expected, it’s best to involve both spouses from the beginning.

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