Settlement of Family Law Cases
The vast majority of family law cases are resolved by the reaching of an agreement between the parties. Very few such cases are tried to the court; nevertheless, some cases cannot be resolved by agreement and will require the assistance of the court in a trial.
We employ a variety of methods to reach negotiated agreements wherever it is possible to do so. We do this through traditional negotiation, as well as through methods of alternative dispute resolution called mediation or collaborative practice. Attorneys in our firm have received specialized training in either traditional negotiation through the Harvard Negotiation Project/American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers joint program, or within other training programs for mediation or in collaborative practice. Each of these techniques is intended to achieve a negotiated resolution of your case.
A process in which an analysis is made of the expected scope of possible outcomes and hoped-for items are prioritized, and in which common interests of the parties are identified and used to bargain for a comprehensive resolution of all issues in the case. This is the most common method employed by us to attempt to settle a case.
Mediation in family law cases in our city typically involves the assistance of a mediator, who meets with the parties directly and attempts to facilitate the reaching of an agreement through mediation techniques. You should still be represented by an attorney when you are in mediation, as should your spouse; however, if the mediation is successful, your attorneys’ roles will be much less prominent. While mediation can be effective in many circumstances, it is not always appropriate in every case, for a variety of reasons depending upon the particular case.
Collaborative practice is a method of alternative dispute resolution in which the parties enter into a formal contract that they will not litigate; they agree to use their respective best efforts to reach a mutually acceptable settlement, and in the event this objective cannot be achieved, they agree to discharge their attorneys and retain new counsel.
Penny Robinson of our office has been a certified family law mediator since 1996, and was also trained in collaborative practice under the auspices of the Collaborative Law Institute of Scottsdale, Arizona. She is a member of the Collaborative Family Law Association of St. Louis, and is regularly sought to represent individuals in collaborative practice matters in addition to her traditional family law practice. Collaborative practice may or may not be appropriate for your case.