Options for Divorce
Litigation is an adversarial process that we in America inherited hundreds of years ago and has remained as the traditional system for resolving legal disputes since colonial times. While adversarial litigation may be useful in criminal cases, it is NOT the best way to address and resolve matters like divorce. As soon as one spouse starts a formal legal proceeding, the two spouses are instantly labeled as adversaries, namely as “plaintiff” versus “defendant.” An important objective of Attorney Soboslai’s non adversarial law practice is to steer every potential new client away from traditional adversarial litigation.
The adversarial process is highly regulated according to the Rules of Court. Once the litigation process begins, the Court will oversee the progression of each case and will manage the case along with the Attorneys from start to finish. Because Courts are overcrowded, the primary concern is to end each case. After a case has been pending for a number of months, if the parties are unable to resolve the case by agreement, the Court will eventually assign trial dates. The power to assign trial dates is one of the few tools available to our Judges by which to motivate parties to move the case to conclusion. Every party knows that they will eventually be required to appear for trial if there is no settlement and once a trial begins, the Court will eventually render a Judgment ending that case. Our firm has successfully handled many, many trials of complex cases in the trial court.
While our firm has successfully handled many, many trials of complex cases in the trial court, Attorney Soboslai has devoted his practice to the non adversarial processes of Mediation and Collaborative Practice as the preferred methods for resolving divorce and family matters.
Because of recent changes in Connecticut law, many more clients are choosing binding Arbitration as the means of resolving divorce disputes. Arbitration is in many ways similar to trial, except the neutral Arbitrator decides the case instead of a judge.
Arbitration is a voluntary process. Therefore, both spouses must agree to it. Recent changes in Connecticut law allow child custody, parenting matters, and child support to be decided in arbitration in addition to property division and spousal support. Attorney Soboslai has extensive experience as a Special Master and as an Arbitrator.
Private Mediation has continued to expand and evolve and has become the process that more and more spouses are choosing. Attorney Soboslai draws upon forty years of experience as a Mediator beginning with his experience as a Family Relations Counselor in the early to mid-1980’s and continuing to the present day as a Private Mediator and Special Master. He guides the spouses, without “judging” or giving legal advice, to make their own decisions about all aspects of the divorce including: asset division, parenting and child custody, child support, spousal support, and any other issues of importance to either party.
The Mediation process is flexibly designed to meet the needs of each family. If may include one or more of the following:
- An initial meeting with both spouses together. During this initial meeting, the parties with the assistance of Attorney Soboslai design the process according to their preferences and needs.
- Frequently, the process begins before the parties have retained attorneys.
- If attorneys are involved, the parties decide the extent to which the mediation sessions will include the attorneys.
- Mediation is based on the essential principle of “self-determination.” Thus, each participant must feel free at all times to express interests, concerns and explore options for mutually satisfactory resolution of the issues. The mediator is neutral and does not “take the side” of either party. Occasionally, the mediator may be asked to provide information regarding options for resolution. In those instances, the meditator will make it clear to all participants that any such options or suggestions are not “judgments.”
- All communications during mediation are private and confidential. If the mediation process does not result in a mutually acceptable agreement, the mediator may not be called as a witness in any subsequent proceedings except in limited instances involving serious abuse or violence.
- If the parties agree, the mediator may prepare a written agreement for the parties to review with their individual attorneys before it is signed. Those attorneys are commonly referred to as “review counsel” or “consulting counsel.”
- Attorney Soboslai usually recommends that each party meet with separate review counsel; however, that is optional and is not a mandatory part of every mediation.
A Collaborative Divorce is an out-of-court, client-centered, non-adversarial conflict resolution method. It replaces the acrimony of litigation with the multiple benefits of collaboration.
How the collaborative process works. The first step in the Collaborative process is for each spouse to hire an attorney who is committed to the Collaborative Divorce process. The formal start of the process begins when each of the spouses and their attorneys sign the “Collaborative Participation Agreement” whereby they all promise to work together to resolve the issues without seeking court intervention.
Frequently, the attorneys and clients will choose neutral professionals to work together as part of an interdisciplinary team to resolve the issues. The team may include a financial professional who can assist with gathering financial data, compiling financial reports, and assisting with complex tax or other issues associated with the financial resolution of the case. The couple may also seek the assistance of a trained psychologist or mental health professional to assist with child-related and parenting issues.
The process is completely confidential. If for some reason, the process terminates without a full resolution the Collaborative Participation Agreement provides that each of the collaborative attorneys will withdraw from the case. This provision is a remarkable and extraordinary feature of the Collaborative divorce process which serves to encourage all participants to devote themselves to a mutually satisfactory resolution of all issues.
Research has shown that nearly 98 percent of couples who begin the collaborative process complete it with a satisfactory agreement.
Benefits of a Collaborative Divorce. There are many benefits to the collaborative process. Some are:
- It is a private process. Typically, nothing is filed with the court except the final settlement agreement and various documents which the court requires in every uncontested case. Financial documents including private information regarding: income, assets, debts, and other financial matters are all kept private.
- Decision-making is entirely in the hands of the spouses. They work together with the assistance of neutral professionals who are trained in collaborative conflict resolution.
- The focus is on creating a safe space in which each client may respectfully address any issues of concern in a non-judgmental atmosphere. Importantly, the attorneys do not use threats of litigation in negotiations. Likewise, each spouse agrees to negotiate in good faith in an atmosphere of transparency.
- For couples with children, there is an emphasis upon positive co-parenting skills with a goal toward moving forward in their lives so both parents may attend important future events with their children.
- It is more economical than contested litigation and there are additional “savings” in terms of time, effort, stress and energy, all of which are depleted in adversarial litigation.
- After the divorce is final, data shows that former spouses who used the collaborative process are more satisfied with the settlement agreement compared with post-divorce litigation after a contested court trial.
Attorney Mark R. Soboslai Will Help You Through the Divorce Process
Attorney Soboslai has four decades of experience in family law litigation in all levels of the Connecticut Court system. Combined with multiple years of mediation experience and over 30 years teaching classes to law students, his experience is unparalleled in the State of Connecticut. Indeed, many successful practicing lawyers in Connecticut are his former students.
Contact the Law Offices of Mark R. Soboslai for a confidential consultation to explore all of your questions and address your concerns. You may call him at (203) 226-5759 or send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.