Mediation Without Attorneys. This is fast becoming the most popular option for couples going through separation and divorce when they already have a pretty good idea of what they need to accomplish but need some assistance with hammering out the details and need guidance through the process.
Complex Cases: It is always recommended that persons seek competent legal advice if they feel they need it and it certainly is advisable when significant and/or complex assets are involved – particularly if businesses and/or pensions or retirements are involved. The services of financial advisors may be necessary as well as services of mental health professionals – particularly for stressful situations involving children.
Mediation With Attorneys. This is generally done in litigated cases either by stipulation of the parties and their attorneys or by court order. Mediation is now mandatory in all contested cases in Family Court! The attorneys may or may not participate but are more likely to do so in complex cases. If a guardian ad litem is appointed to represent the children, he or she will participate as well.
Arbitration. This option is available for all issues in separation and divorce except those involving children – specifically custody and visitation, over which the Family Court has exclusive jurisdiction. This can be a first choice in lieu of mediation or after mediation reaches and impasse. The parties simply retain the mediator (or someone else) to serve as arbitrator and a decision is rendered.
Education. While a mediator cannot give individual legal advice, a comprehensive explanation of legal issues and options can and should be given so couples can make intelligent and informed decisions. Jay Bultz makes a special effort to do this in his mediation practice. He has taught family law classes for several years in the paralegal program at HG Tech and has given numerous lectures and interviews on family law issues and mediation. Some couples have come in simply for a consultation to help them decide how they wish to proceed.
Parenting Plans. The “best interests of the children” is the bottom line legal standard applied by the Family Court for decisions involving children – as it should be. In applying that standard, the courts have traditionally looked at a long list of specific factors. With over 24 years of experience as a family court attorney, Jay Bultz can assist couples in applying applicable factors to help them make the best decisions for their children.
Separation Agreements. Whether planning to separate or having been separated for some time, couples can make a comprehensive agreement and obtain a final court order resolving all issues between them, the same as if they were divorced. Once the requisite period of time has passed for a no-fault divorce (one year continuous separation), either spouse can apply.
Divorce Settlements. An agreement can be taken to court in a divorce action as well. A request for a no-fault divorce (assuming the couple has been separated for one year) can be added to the paperwork prepared by Bultz Law Offices taking the agreement to court.
Collaborative Process. As a trained collaborative law practitioner, Jay Bultz has been at the forefront of introducing the collaborative process to this area. While representing one spouse, Mr. Bultz can refer the other spouse to another trained collaborative lawyer in the area as well as refer both parties to other professionals in the area who have been introduced to the collaborative process.
Sorry – not all cases are good for mediation or ADR! Those cases involving abuse or threats of harm and those cases in which one or both spouses are emotionally entrenched or demand revenge or punishment or they are being just plain vindictive are not good for mediation or ADR. Those cases will need a judge to impose a decision upon them and either bring them back to reality or leave them bitter!