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What Are The Approaches That Set Your Firm Apart In Guiding Your Clients Through The Divorce Process In Maryland And DC?

So the main differences that sets me apart are that I’m going to take the time to work with clients and let’s just take it in a mediation context that understanding and listening to each other is one thing.  Working with both a husband/wife, mom & dad, to begin to listen to one another in the face of years of conflict, years of recognizing that things were beginning to fall apart, that’s a whole other challenge.  And so what sets me apart is creating a safe place, creating an atmosphere where direct communication could happen but it’s occurring in context to a schedule and approach that if the first thing, for example, that needs to be covered is a parenting plan and you know that’s going to set the rest of the process in place. So the collaborative process is a formal process where I, as your collaborative lawyer, am committing to resolve the differences and work through to a final marital separation agreement with your spouse, working along with other professionals and my attorney counterpart and I are both waiving our right to litigate the case if we’re not able to settle it. Read More

In Your Experience, How Are The Collaborative Process In Mediation To Divorce Matters For Any Children Involved Versus Taking The Divorce Into Litigation?

The children in the divorce process are the most important.  Depending on their age and where they are developmentally, it’s important for them to know that they are not losing that fundamental core relationship between their parents.  The more that the parents can show a united front, the more it affirms the children’s welfare is most important.

The collaborative process and mediation, focus on the parenting plan usually at the beginning of the process, whether it’s with an attorney such as myself or whether it’s with one of the collaborative parenting coaches who I may work with, all are taking the interest and needs of the children at heart. My purpose is wanting to prevent parents in litigating especially over custody where possibly children may be forced to testify or be interviewed by case workers through the courts. This creates a lot of confusion, fear and really a sense of abandonment for many children who are going through that type of process. The collaborative process or the mediation process prevents that type of shock and trauma from occurring to children who are going through this. Read More

Do Both Parties Need An Attorney If The Collaborative Approach To Divorce Is The Best Option?

Yes, I don’t know any collaborative model that suggests that an attorney would not be necessary for both parties.  A key component of the collaborative approach is having the attorneys giving up their right to litigate the case if it doesn’t settle.  I think there are occasions when parties can negotiate, and I would suggest that this is true for any model that the parties may choose that the better the communication is between the parties, the more small agreements that they could reach on their own, the more that they could begin to establish communication models, then the parties will benefit themselves going forward in their parenting and it’s going to support them as they negotiate a marital separation agreement.  And it’s just going to help them to process this difficult period that they’re going through.

If you can work through and get some partial agreements on your own, you may not need as many legal hours to negotiating the same issue. Read More

How Is Time Sharing Or Custody Determined In Maryland Or DC? What Is That Best Interest Of The Child Standard?

To begin with, one of the most important parts of the divorce or separation process that both parties hopefully recognize is that it’s going to happen in multiple phases or stages. So, if you are at a beginning stage, they should try to look forward in order to see what will become necessary in the later stages. Generally, this means looking at Mom and Dad’s, and the kids schedules to derive a plan where the children feel completely loved and taken care of, while Mom and Dad have sufficient time with their children.

If the parties can come together to do what needs to be done and reduce conflict, this part of the process can be done on their own as soon-to-be-ex-spouses, but more importantly as co-parents, as mom and dad. Read More

How Is The Amount Of Child Support Determined Or Calculated Under Maryland Or DC Family State Law?

As I mentioned previously, the Maryland Child Support guidelines statute in Maryland has a formula set up that you put in the various inputs of income and other support expenses and the number of evenings and then it cranks out a number. So it’s a pretty straightforward calculus. People could do it on their own even but the guidelines get filed when a final divorce is made to the court to grant the divorce, then that becomes part of the final divorce decree. And that would be true, again, if a couple is not married and one spouse has that obligation, you would still owe the same amount of child support. The only difference is you’re not filing for a divorce so it would be established through a contractual agreement between the mother and father. Read More

Steve Shapiro, Esq.

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