You do not. You have options. One option is going to court through court process. The name of that process is a divorce action. A divorce action involves the plaintiff filing the lawsuit and naming the other spouse as defendant. This will initiate the court process, the pleadings that are drafted by the moving party’s counsel, would then be served on the other party, and that would commence the lawsuit. Then there would usually be a process for determination of temporary orders that endure during the divorce process. And then the court would supervise the exchange of financial and other relevant information, which is called the discovery process.
Once the exchange of information is completed and the parties have an opportunity to work with their counsel to understand fully the assets and liabilities and the income information fully, then typically the court is going to oversee the process of trying to resolve as many of those issues as possible. The case will ultimately either resolve in full by agreement or will go to a final hearing before the judge or magistrate. Needless to say, when you submit these issues to a hearing by a third party whose decisions are binding, except if they’re appealable to the next level of courts, then you are obviously really taking away your ability to control decision making. There is also the option of resolving all of these family issues through an extra judicial process.
Collaborative divorce is a highly effective means of getting to yes outside of court. The reason it’s effective is because it is by Ohio law- and is an Ohio statute called the Ohio Collaborative Family Law Act. Collaborative Law is completely transparent. Both parties must fully and completely disclose all relevant information, especially the financial information. They must do so on an ongoing basis. That’s a very high standard of transparency. Also the collaborative process is completely privileged and confidential unless the parties agree otherwise. That really protects the family from having to make all of their proceedings public. The collaborative divorce process is a very educated process. The process basically provides information to the parties and the parties. They’re aware of the full facts and the options available to them as they actually go about picking which options work best for their family.
I there is a financial neutral who gathers all the information from the family about the assets and liabilities and income/cash flow. Then that financial neutral presents the information in a very complete and skilled manner. They have the proper credentials to be providing the information and they do so very efficiently and very effectively. The parties are only paying one neutral as opposed to paying two different experts as they would be doing if were they doing it through the divorce process in court. In addition, there is a coach or possibly even two coaches if the circumstances warrant. But usually one coach who helps the parties stay focused, helps keep the process on track, and helps the clients communicate effectively. The coach can also help with parenting issues and can help the parties work through their parenting agreements.
So moving into other options other than collaborative divorce, there is also the option of mediation. That process is one attorney or one neutral working with both parties to assist those parties to come to resolution on all the issues. That’s something that we offer. That’s something that I do and I make sure that my mediated agreements are very thorough and complete so that when the parties sign the mediated agreement their attorneys can readily draft up the legal documents necessary to end the marriage.
Another divorce process option is to negotiate dissolution as an out of court process. Each party hires an attorney and the attorneys work together along with their clients to try to bring the parties to closure and resolution. That’s also an option available to the parties. But the benefit of the collaborative process and also to a degree, the benefit of mediation is the structure of the process. The collaborative process will involve meetings of the team and for every meeting there’ll be an agenda. For every meeting there will be minutes after the meetings that will document the agreements. The collaborative process will be highly structured. The collaborative team actually helps the clients keep the process on track in completing the various decisions that are necessary in order to come to full resolution and draft up the legal documents. These will be drafted by the attorneys who have been involved in the process all the way along. So it’s highly efficient in that regard.
Divorce and divorce-related situations is all we do here at Buck & Fish Ltd. We’re ready to help you today.