Each of the attorneys at Brigitte Schmidt Bell, P.C. has come to believe that people facing problems have the most relevant perspective to consider when resolving them. We are dedicated to working with you to understand your needs so that we can inform, guide, and advocate for you appropriately to arrive at the best possible resolution under all the relevant circumstances.
We each practice Collaborative Law, mediation, mediation-friendly representation, and settlement-focused litigation, all of which, in most cases, have advantages over a more conflictual litigious approach, which we use only as necessary. The choice of process depends on many factors including the particular problems you need addressed and the personalities of the people involved in decision-making. We work with you to fully explain the advantages and limitations of each process, and together we make a considered decision about what approach will work best for your case.
Collaborative Divorce (also called Collaborative Law or Collaborative Process) involves two attorneys and other professionals, as needed, who are specially trained in the Collaborative Process. They sign a “Collaborative Participation Agreement” together with the parties, in which everyone commits to work together to manage the needs and interests of all of the family members, especially the children, while addressing all of the issues that need to be addressed in your divorce.
Mediation is a process in which a specially trained facilitator helps parties identify and discuss issues and develop mutually workable solutions to problems, conflicts, and specific legal situations such as divorce, post-decree disputes, parenting, parentage, and elder issues. The mediator structures the meetings and supports the discussion in ways that help the parties explore the issues, create plans to resolve them, anticipate potential future problems, and move forward with their lives. As a neutral facilitator, the mediator does not give legal advice and does not represent either party, but rather helps both parties identify the issues and work to resolve them.
In the role of “mediation-friendly” attorney, we support you, our client, while you are participating in mediation with another mediator. We provide you with information and advice you need to understand your options and make informed decisions in the mediated context. In this role we often assist you with completing the process of divorce by communicating with attorneys for the other party and by taking the steps required to get from a mediated “memorandum of understanding” to a final judgment of dissolution in the court.
We continue to provide traditional legal representation to help our clients work toward settlement of disputes where mediation or Collaborative Divorce are not available options. It is a fact that a vast majority of cases resolve, in the end, through agreement rather than at trial, so beginning with a goal of settlement rather than adversarial litigation is a more efficient path to what is generally the same result. In such cases we zealously advocate for our client’s interests while looking for opportunities for agreement rather than battle. This process is sometimes called “cooperative” divorce.