Newburyport Family Law – A Unique Approach
Karen Galat and Debra Quinn are trained Collaborative Lawyers. Debra Quinn is also a Collaborative Coach. Both Attorney Galat and Attorney Quinn are able to join a Collaborative Team or put one together if you are just getting started. Attorney Quinn can also do this as a Collaborative Coach.
Advantages of Collaborative Law
Collaborative Law is mediation on steroids. It is the newest approach to reaching an uncontested divorce. Unlike mediation where the two parties work with a single neutral (a mediator), in the Collaborative Process, each party is accompanied by his or her own attorney at all times, but the parties promise to proceed without court intervention and to be reasonable as to each and every issue. Two ‘neutrals’ complete the group: a coach who acts as the coordinator and may investigate issues of custody and parenting time and a financial neutral who can assist with child support, alimony, division of assets and debts and make recommendations as to tax matters.
Individuals who shy away from mediation because they want their own attorney accompanying them, often find Collaborative Law a satisfactory solution. It is a way to have an attorney who represents only you and your interests with you every step of the way, but it still allows you to proceed outside of a court room without the cost, time and stress that accompany a litigated case.
The Collaborative Process
If you and your spouse agree to try Collaborative Law, you must each hire an attorney who is a certified collaborative practitioner. Often the lawyers will agree on both a coach and a financial neutral. You and your spouse will start by each meeting with your chosen attorney privately. The coach may meet with each of you privately or together, depending upon your needs. The financial neutral may or may not meet with each of you as this individual often focuses solely on the numbers and sometimes is only a part of the Team Meetings.
Once the preliminary conferences have taken place, the coach will organize the first Team Meeting. In some cases, if enough preliminary work has been done, only one or two such Team Meetings are needed. Agreements are made at Team Meetings on each issue that must be addressed for you to enter into a separation agreement that a court can find to be fair and reasonable. Once you have done that, the two attorneys will complete the required documents and you will be ready to present them to a judge.
You and your spouse will then be presented with a packet of completed documents together with the information that you will need to proceed on your own. This packet will include all the documents required by the court for you to obtain a no-fault, uncontested divorce, including a cover letter and envelope addressed to the Register of the appropriate court as well as instructions on filing your documents, the fee that must accompany them, where to go on the day of your hearing and what questions you might expect the judge to ask. The hearing will be very short, only about ten minutes, and 120 days after your appearance, your divorce will be final.