Areas of Practice
Collaborative Law and Divorce
The collaborative process enables people to achieve a settlement in their best interests through their self-determination. Experienced lawyers, mental health professionals, and financial advisers guide the participants to make sure we achieve the best outcome for families.
This divorce process allows participants to address factors important to them, which are often neglected in the traditional adversarial process. Once a settlement is achieved, the divorce lawsuit is filed and the judgment is entered.
This process can be used in matters beyond divorce and can be used post-judgment.
Collaborative Practice is the holistic, innovative,non-adversarial and private way to resolve conflicts. It is the preferable method where people seek to maintain their working relationships and find a solution to the problems facing them. Collaboratively trained professionals work with people to find workable and lasting solutions based upon the interests and needs of the people involved. Collaborative Practice is particularly useful in areas involving high emotion such as disputes concerning families, neighbors, and valued business relations. The principles apply to probate, estate planning, trust administration, divorce, custody, visitation, guardianship, conservatorship, neighbor disputes, business partners, and any matter in which the participants can agree that maintaining good will is valued.
Collaborative divorce provides a supportive team approach to reaching a workable settlement agreement that empowers a divorcing couple to have self- determination in the course of their future lives with the assistance of professionals to help them make good decisions in a non-adversarial manner. It is a dignified manner in which to dissolve the bonds of matrimony. It also provides for resolution of matters that the court does not have the power to address.
Once the settlement agreement is reached and signed by the parties, a complaint is filed in court for the dissolution of the marriage to obtain a judgment of divorce.The agreed upon settlement is incorporated into a judgment of divorce without the need for any adversarial hearings. A divorce under this practice provides the most private manner of obtaining a divorce possible.
Each party hires an attorney who is trained in the area of Collaborative Divorce. The attorneys, the parties and a mutually selected divorce coach, a neutral mental health professional, trained in Collaborative Divorce and experienced in marital and family counselling, sign a Collaborative Divorce agreement. The mental health professional serves as a facilitator and as a divorce coach for the divorcing couple to help to support them in their emotional needs through a difficult time and to assist in good decision making focusing them upon the present issues for resolution and for the future sustainability. In some cases two divorce coaches may be preferred. A financial neutral is most often a part of the team. The financial neutral helps the couple and team to work out and means test different options for desired outcomes so they have good information upon which to make an informed decision as to the ultimate settlement choice. Where children are involved, a child mental health specialist can be included on the team. This specialist assists the couple with reaching an agreement that encompasses the child’s best interests in a manner that cannot otherwise be accomplished through traditional means. A holistic and realistic appraisal of what is in the children's best interests can best be reached through this process. If a business is involved, one neutral business valuation specialist is agreed upon.
The Collaborative Divorce agreement includes agreements for confidentiality, privacy and for the parties and attorneys to stay out of court and to co-operate until an agreement is reached. In the event that the parties become adversarial, the attorneys and other team members must resign and are prohibited from future involvement or representation of the parties. This provides an environment that fosters openness as well as an incentive to commit to see the collaborative process through.
The goal of a collaborative divorce is to reach a settlement through empowerment and education of the divorcing couple so that they can reach a workable agreement that they craft with the help of the professional collaborative divorce team.
Collaborative Divorce is a holistic, innovative, and non-adversarial way to obtain a divorce with dignity. It allows a separating couple to utilize services of two attorneys working together with a neutral facilitator who is a licensed mental health professional with marital and family counselling experience to support the separating couple in determining the course of their future lives. Absent is the imposition of rulings by a judge, who does not know the couple and who is influenced by the one sided arguments forwarded by each of the couple’s attorneys. Resolution on matters in a divorce case such as : property settlement, child custody, parenting time, child support, alimony is tailored to the divorcing couple. It has the advantage of addressing issues important to the separating spouses such as support of persons over the age of 18, . It has the potential to be the most efficient resolution because there are no hearings in court where the parties pay attorneys to wait while other matters are heard.
While Collaborative Divorce may be less expensive, more expensive or cost the same as a traditional litigated divorce, it has the distinct advantage of being tailored and determined by the parties with the assistance of the team to meet their unique and precise needs. While divorce is never easy, this is path to divorce with the most support and ease for all involved. While costs can not be guaranteed, almost all cases handled collaboratively cost less than if the same matter were handled in the traditional adversarial process.Experts in each area handle matters in their area of expertise, which is cost effective. Dollar cost savings are typically realized in the post-divorce phase. As a workable settlement agreement is reached through the collaborative process, there is little need for post-judgment motions and evidentiary hearings. With a traditional negotiated settlement often the parties are back in court after the judgment is entered to address matters that are unsatisfactory to one of the parties. The dignity maintained through the process as compared with a traditional process is priceless.
No. It is not for those who want to make their partner suffer . It is designed for people who want to cooperate and dissolve their marriage with dignity and respect in a peaceful manner. It is not recommended for people who cannot fully participate due to mental illness, significant mental disabilities, mental or physical abuse, or marked vengefullness. Active participation is required in the process. It is not exclusively for persons who have little or no conflict. Collaborative professionals are trained to help parties with conflict reach resolution.
Whether you have few assets or a large estate, you are likely in need of estate planning. The plan may be simple or complex depending on your situation. A plan may be as simple as knowing you have everything already in place. It may be complex. No matter your situation, we want to ensure that you are protected in the event of your disability. A proper estate plan will deliver on the important goal of ensuring your property is distributed to the people and charities you desire. It will place the people you want in charge of affairs and decisions for you. This is especially important when you are no longer available to handle matters on your own.
Some of the documents that help to protect you and your loved ones are: powers of attorney for financial and general matters, powers of attorney for health care direction, HIPAA releases, revocable trusts, special needs trusts, ladybird deeds, and wills.
If you have non-blood related relatives you want to inherit or blood relations you want to disinherit or who you would rather not be caring for you, you should hire a professional experienced in this area of the law to draft a trust or will for you.
Estate and Trust Administration
Making lives more manageable in the face of grief is important at Fordree Law Firm, P.C. Knowing what needs to be done, when it needs to be done and in what order can be complicated. We are here to help and to bring you peace of mind in this difficult time.
It is our business to protect your interests as the person in charged with administration, whether you are named as an executor, successor trustee, trustee, representative, or other fiduciary. For trusts where the Settlor is still alive, we offer advice to Successor Trustees. The fiduciary roles come with a myriad of responsibilities. If not carried out properly, fiduciaries face liability. The responsibilities can vary with different factual situations and often are not found in the governing document.
For Beneficiaries we will make sure you are receiving your beneficial share. Often it is unclear as to what is transpiring, what should be going on, whether the proper share is received and whether assets are being administered as they should be.
If you have been told you need a letter before you can access the assets of a departed loved one, then you likely need assistance with Estate or Trust Administration. Administering trusts and estates is a matter requiring some experience and knowledge to operate smoothly. Everyone has a story involving an estate that was full of problems. Solid legal counsel in this area can help to avoid otherwise costly and messy mistakes that could jeopardize finances and relationships. Good estate planning is part of the equation. The other part of the equation is good trust and estate administration.
Trust Funding and Review
In practice we often see trusts that are drafted and put in place, and yet they fail to avoid probate court because they were not funded. In order to be certain that your trust or that of a loved one is fully functional; we can assist you with trust funding. Trust funding is achieved by properly transferring the assets into the name of the trust during life or upon death. If you are unsure about trust funding, please contact us to help you.
Revocable Living Trusts, those trusts that can be changed or amended until death, are meant to be reviewed periodically. Often people treat a trust or an estate plan as something to put on a shelf or in a safe deposit box and leave until death. We recommend a review every three years or earlier upon a change in life circumstances of you, your beneficiaries, or those you have left in charge. A review is also recommended as we have changes in the law and society. Has your trust or estate plan been updated to include digital assets?
Mediation is an excellent way to resolve a variety of types of disputes in a non-adversarial manner. It can take place in litigation and is often encouraged by judges to avoid trials and needless expense. Mediation can result in a case being dropped. It can also result in a settlement arrangement that can take into effect factors that a court does not have the power to order.
Mediation can also be the first step in conflict resolution. It allows for people to hear and be heard in a way that our adversarial system excludes and discourages. It can provide the communication component that is often the key to a positive resolution.
The mediator’s role is to serve as a neutral facilitator to bring together both sides in reaching agreement. This is accomplished through an understanding of the issues where agreement is lacking and working with the parties to find a mutually agreeable and beneficial result. At the conclusion, if the matter is one involving the court, a written settlement or recorded statement is documented. The mediator does not advocate for or represent either party. The parties may be represented by attorneys or may have no representation. If the matter involves a legal issue, it is recommended that each client have an attorney and financial advisor and other professionals as appropriate advise upon whether the agreement reached is in their best interest as the mediator is prohibited from giving such advice.
The process requires full disclosure of information and an ability to be in the same space without the threat of violence or intimidation.
Pre-nuptial agreements and Family Law
Also known as ante-nuptial agreements, “pre-nups”, and pre- marital agreements, they facilitate good communication and conflict resolution skills in relationship.
In pre- marital counselling, a counsellor talks about handling non-legal matters that couples commonly have conflict with that may arise in the course of the hopefully long and prosperous marriage. In drafting a pre-nuptial agreement, the attorneys likewise raise often unanticipated and previously undiscussed matters that can be legally and practically significant with engaged clients. This is particularly important when a person entering a marriage has other obligations, children from a prior marriage, business relationships, may be disinherited if an inheritance is not protected through a pre-nup, or has accumulated or inherited separate property.
Pre- nups address what the couple would like to happen upon death and in the event of divorce. They must be reviewed by an attorney for each party and must be reached and signed far enough in advance from the wedding to be valid. Full disclosure of assets and liabilities is also required.
When a person needs assistance in this area of their lives, they need someone that they can depend upon to be compassionate and supportive with solid knowledge of the law and circumstances.
We offer limited scope representation for family law matters.
Serving you by Advising you on the law, agreements and rights and obligations in different life situations makes your life better. Experienced in the following areas:
Powers of Attorney
Health Care Directives, Living Wills
Real Estate Closings
Employment Separation Agreements
Formation of LLCs
Formation of Corporations