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Divorce by Mutual Consent Explained

Today I want to talk to you about divorce by mutual consent and what that means. I’ve helped thousands of people go through the divorce process during my 20 years as a family law attorney.   

When you have a divorce by mutual consent it means that you and the other party are in perfect agreement with how your case is going to be resolved.  In other words you and the other party have no disputes on how children are going to be settled with custody and parenting time with your kids.

You have no disputes about how assets and debts are going to be divided.  You are in absolute and perfect agreement. When you proceed in your divorce by mutual consent all of those agreements are put into writing and put into a form that’s accepted by the court wherever you are located.  That form is typically called a ‘consent decree of dissolution’.  You put all of your agreements in the consent decree and you get it into a form you both...

How To Start The Divorce Process

I've helped thousands of people in my 20 years as a family law attorney get their divorce process started.  I've also helped them walk  through the divorce process. Although starting the divorce process from an emotional standpoint may be a difficult thing, from a practical standpoint, it's really not that hard.

The thing you need to do to start your divorce process is file something called a petition for dissolution of marriage.  In some jurisdictions it may be called a petition for divorce.  In your petition for dissolution you're going to be telling the other party and the court what it is you want to happen as a result of the divorce.

A broad outline of what you will be including in your petition for dissolution is you're  going to be making statements or proposals  about how you want to share children as far as custody and parenting time;  the division of property and assets and spousal maintenance or child support.

You need to check the laws...

Arbritration | Alternatives for Settling a Divorce or Custody Case Outside of Court - Part 5

Welcome to the fifth video in my series on how to resolve your divorce or child custody case outside of the courtroom.   So, in the first four videos we talked about exchanging letters or emails, informal settlement conferences, collaborative divorce and mediation.

In this video I want to talk with you about arbitration.  Arbitration is another way that you can expedite resolving your case outside of the courtroom. Although it is quite a bit like getting your case resolved in court.  In arbitration you and the other party would mutually select an arbitrator to decide the contested issues in your case.  The arbitrator could be somebody who practices family law and has a lot of experience, it could be a retired judge, or it could be anybody else that you mutually select.

The job of the arbitrator is to hear the contested issues and make a decision. I have conducted arbitrations and I participated as a representing a party in arbitrations.   An...

Mediation | Alternatives for Settling a Divorce or Custody Case Outside of Court - Part 4

This is video 4 in my series on how to resolve your divorce or child custody case outside of court.  In the first 3 videos we have covered the simple strategies of writing letters back and forth, we’ve covered informal settlement conferences and also collaborative divorce. In this video I’m going to talk to you about mediation which is another type of alternative dispute resolution.

Mediation is a process whereby the parties meet and if they have attorneys the attorneys are often present.  There's a key player that is involved that differentiates mediation from just having an informal settlement conference. In divorce meditation there's a neutral person who is trained in mediation and that person works with the parties to try to help them resolve their differences.

In most of the mediations that I participate in the mediators do the mediations in a caucus format.   So what that means is that each party has a room to him or herself.  If the...

Collaborative Divorce | Alternatives for Settling a Divorce Outside the Courtroom - Part 3

This is video 3 in my series on how to settle your family court case outside the courtroom.  In video one we talked about sending letters or emails to try to settle. In video 2 I talked about having an informal settlement conference with your ex or soon to be ex and in this video I'm going to talk with you about alternative dispute resolution.

Alternative dispute resolution is an alternative way to resolve your dispute.  Makes sense right? There are lots of different types of alternative dispute resolution and I'm going to cover a few of them in subsequent videos but I just want to highlight what those are for you before I delve into the first one.

One method of alternative dispute resolution is called mediation and that's when you and the other parties sit with the neutral who tries to help you work out the details of your case. Another method of alternative dispute resolution is arbitration where you and the other party mutually select an arbitrator and oftentimes it's...

Informal Settlement Conference | Alternatives for Settling a Divorce Outside the Courtroom - Part 2


This is the second video in a series of videos on how to settle your divorce or custody case outside of the courtroom.  In the first video I talked about trying to get a settlement the good old fashioned way, by writing letters or exchanging emails back and forth with the other party to see if you can reach some sort of agreement on the contested issues.  In this video I want to talk to you about what’s called an informal settlement conference.

A settlement conference is exactly what it sounds like.  It’s a conference where you sit down the other party and you try and settle things. As a divorce attorney I do a lot of these informal settlement conferences.  Sometimes when people are represented by an attorney, the other party will just head over to my office and we sit down and try to hammer things out informally.

There is no court reporter, judge or mediator present. It is just the 4 of us trying to talk through the issues in their divorce or child...

Sending Letters & Emails | Alternatives for Settling a Divorce Outside the Courtroom - Part 1

In the next five videos I am going to give you some information on alternatives for settling your case outside of the courtroom.

Without a doubt it's better for you to take your own life into your own hands and resolve the case if possible with your ex-partner outside the courtroom.   If you don't settle your case then what's going to happen is you're going to end up in front of a stranger a judge who's going to make decisions about your life and maybe the life of your children, your future financial life after having heard about the history of your case over just a few hours.

In extreme cases maybe you'll get a day or two or maybe three but that's still not a lot of time. The judge is still a stranger and it's still scary in my mind to have a stranger making those decisions.   I want to help empower you to take your life into your own hands and look at these strategies.   So the first strategy I want to talk to you about is just writing letters....

Taking Personality Responsibility in Your Child Custody Case


As I said in my previous video in 2019 I'm going to be sprinkling some videos in my regular lineup that are designed to be more motivational and inspirational. I know how difficult it is as you are going through a custody case and it's really easy to get pulled down by the heaviness and emotions of it.

Going through a custody case takes it's toll on you emotionally, physically and on your pocketbook. If I'm having a bad day and someone gives me a compliment or says something nice to me and it brings me up, I want to do the same for you.

Let's talk about personal responsibility. As an attorney who has been practicing law for over 20 years and family law for exactly 20 years, it's frustrating to see people come into my office and blame everyone around them for the circumstance they find themselves in.

As you go through your custody case I think it's really important for you to take a look at yourself and maybe see where you've gone wrong in the past to create the situation that...

Stop Thinking "It's My Way or the Highway" in Your Custody Case

I want to challenge you to begin to think in a different way.   A lot of people including myself tend to think in terms of either/or.   Meaning if you have one thing you can't have the other thing.   I want to challenge you to start thinking about is there a way that I can maybe have two things at once and try to reconcile those things?

Oftentimes when parties don't agree they think it's either my way or the highway and that there's no room for both parties’ opinions.   In a recent case I learned that actually maybe there is room for both.   I learned that parties that really work to problem-solve and do it together that maybe both of their core desires can be met and maybe their goals can be accomplished by being open to both points of view.   Let me explain a little more.   In this particular case I was representing the father of a child and the child had some special needs.  He had ADHD and some...

Laying Foundation When Writing Motions for a Judge in Your Custody Case


Today I want to talk with you about laying foundation when you are writing motions to a judge.   Recently one of my clients wanted me to file a motion and ask for the judge to enter some temporary orders in his case. In this case my client had a ton of text and email evidence that he wanted to attach to the motion for temporary orders. Some of the emails were long chains of emails between the parties and some of the text messages went on and on and on. Potentially this information is information that really could have been confusing and overwhelming to the judge.

One thing that you have to do when you are writing motions to the judge or when you are presenting your case in court is lay foundation. Not all but part of laying foundation is giving the judge a framework so the judge knows when something happened and the circumstances under which it happened.

So when my client gave me all of these text messages and emails not all of them had dates attached or the dates were...