Divorce has changed significantly over the years, and modern divorce laws are focused on helping couples to resolve their differences – not drag them out through unnecessary litigation. Some states even require divorcing couples to meet with a mediator before they can take their case to trial.
Collaborative divorce is an important trend that helps couples determine their own outcomes in divorce. In a collaborative divorce, each party’s attorneys agree that they will withdraw from the case in the event that they are unable to reach an out-of-court settlement. This means that in order to move forward with litigation, both parties will need to start from scratch with new lawyers, so the time and money they spent on negotiation will have gone completely to waste. In this way, the collaborative process significantly incentivizes the parties to settle their divorce without going to court.
Attorney Jennifer Rench is an experienced divorce mediator. She has helped many St. Louis couples navigate through the legal issues of divorce in order to resolve their cases efficiently and cost-effectively. She has significant experience with the many different issues presented by collaborative divorce and can help you find creative solutions that are right for your family. Call (314) 328-5423 to schedule your free consultation.
The Different Issues You Can Resolve with a Collaborative Divorce
There are many different legal issues presented by divorce. If you are unable to agree on these issues, you have the right to submit your case to a judge for a decision. This takes much longer than negotiating a settlement agreement. It is also more expensive, as litigants usually incur significant attorney’s fees in litigation. Even if you cannot agree on all the legal issues in your divorce, it is helpful to settle as many of them as you can.
Here are just a few of the issues that typically come up in St. Louis divorce cases:
Child custody is often one of the most bitter issues for couples to resolve. Parents can feel threatened by the other parent’s custody rights, and some panic if they feel they are “losing” their children. The collaborative divorce process allows parents to remain in control of their custody arrangements. Parents agree to a schedule of parenting time that works for the entire family. They also agree on how to work together to make legal decisions about education, religion, health care, and other important life choices.
It is important to note that collaborative divorce is not always appropriate to resolve child custody issues. If, for example, one parent has a history of violence, the other parent might need to go to court to fight for sole custody. If you are unsure whether collaboration is right for your case, speak with an experienced mediator about the details of your situation.
Like other states, Missouri has issued clear guidelines for calculating child support. The Missouri Courts website makes these calculators available to the public. Many parents are able to calculate their own support awards based on these calculators. But some cases are more complicated. If, for example, one parent is staying at home with other children, this affects his or her earnings. If a parent is voluntarily not working, the other parent can often “attribute” income to the unemployed parent. This is an estimate of what could be earned if that parent were working. As you can imagine, some couples fight bitterly over what their estimated earnings could be, and how this should affect their child support payments. A mediator can help resolve these differences when the child support calculation is unclear.
Spousal support (also known as spousal maintenance or alimony) is left intentionally vague under Missouri divorce laws. Unlike child support, there are no guidelines for the amount or duration of alimony payments. This is intentional. Like other states, Missouri grants it’s family court judges wide discretion to award spousal support on a case-by-case basis. This can make it difficult for couples to negotiate a fair settlement. It is difficult to know what is fair if there is no way of knowing what a judge would award. A mediator can help couples negotiate spousal support with many creative solutions. Offsets in property division can be made in lieu of spousal support. Perhaps the recipient wants a lump sum payment and is willing to accept a lower total amount in order to receive it all at once. These are some of the many creative ways in which a mediator can help you negotiate a fair spousal support settlement.
Call Us Today to Schedule a Consultation with a St. Louis Divorce Mediation Lawyer
There are many benefits to collaborative divorce that are worth exploring before you resort to traditional litigation. Schedule your free consultation with Attorney Jennifer Rench by calling (314) 328-5423 or contacting us online.