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Divorce Solutions: Stages

Divorce Solutions with a Flat Rate schedule is a new concept developed to lower costs, save time, minimize conflict and recognize the value and role of collaboration and compassion in a difficult process. It may not be for everyone as it does not support unrealistic expectations or encourage conflict. It is designed to make it easier for couples to accept change, manage the process and reach a timely agreement that helps the parties move forward with their lives

The usual divorce can take over a year and leave in its wake damaged finances, frustration, hard feelings, bruised egos and, if children are involved, anxious children. A Flat Rate Divorce can take less than half the time, cost a lot less and is designed to minimize conflict for the couple and any children.

There are three stages of the Divorce Solutions process:

I. Initial Intake and Evaluation
II. Conflict Resolution Meeting(s)  
III. An Arbitrated Decision


Stage 1: Initial Intake and Evaluation

Prior to the first meeting clients complete questionnaires describing assets and initial concepts of co-parenting, if children are involved. There is a contractual agreement with the firm, which will explain the process and waive certain rights to separate counsel. You will also agree to be legally bound by the process (if it goes to Stage III, explained below).

Prior to the first meeting, the attorney will have a short personal intake session with each party separately, by phone, by Skype or in person.

The first joint meeting with the attorney will determine the areas of conflict and agreement. If all issues can be resolved at this level, then a settlement agreement with all supporting documents will be prepared and the case scheduled in court for an uncontested hearing. Maine law requires a minimum 60 days from filing for the entry of divorce.

Stage 2: Conflict Resolution Meeting

If after the first meeting, there are still areas of disagreement, a second meeting is scheduled (with the same attorney). Each party is asked to present, in confidence, a description of their position in advance of the meeting. The attorney may ask for some additional documentation from one or both parties.

At the second meeting the attorney will work to facilitate a resolution between the parties. This is still a process in which each side must agree to the final resolution. This second meeting may last for up to four hours. If agreement is reached, then all paperwork will be prepared and filed with the Court. If no resolution is reached, the parties may seek another session, or proceed to the next stage. There is also an option to bring in a mediator in the additional session.

Stage 3: Arbitrated Decision

Any unresolved issues from the Conflict Resolution meeting will move forward to resolution in a session with a different attorney, who will hear each side and render a decision that will be binding on the parties. Prior to the session, there will be a motion made to the court to have this case assigned to this attorney by what is called a reference, which legally binds the parties to the decision.

The attorney who had previously worked with the parties in the process will help each side prepare the materials necessary for the arbitration, but will not advocate for either side nor attend the session. Efforts will be made to have only the statements of the parties presented in the session, with any witnesses’ statements made in writing, if possible. Evidence, such as appraised values, is submitted in written form. The decision will be entered with the court, with all other required paperwork.

Child Custody Cases: There are several alternatives if the parties are contesting custody of children, or what in Maine is called “primary physical residence.” All other issues concerning shared parental rights and responsibilities and child support can get fully resolved through this process, but if after the Conflict Resolution meeting the parties are still in disagreement over primary residence, then in all likelihood a guardian ad litem would need to be appointed by the court. The case would then be decided in the Arbitrated Decision meeting or be resolved by the District Court. The cost of the guardian ad litem is not included in the Flat Rate fee.


Our Divorce Solutions form can be downloaded by clicking here.