If you are looking for a caring and competent divorce, family, and elder mediator in South Carolina, you have come to a good place. My comfortable office in Columbia, SC, is a central and neutral location for clients who come from all over the state — with or without attorneys — for help in reaching divorce separation agreements, parenting and custody plans, elder care plans, and other family issues outside of court. With help of one of our highly qualified, neutral mediators, divorcing couples and families reach voluntary, fair, and amicable settlement agreements. The goal of mediation is to help you reach agreement and to make sure it is done in a fair way that does not leave out or overlook any issues or future challenges. After a complete settlement agreement is reached covering all issues in a manner both parties believe is fair, an attorney is usually hired to manage the very simple process of having it made into an enforceable court order.
But mediation is a relatively new way of settling divorce and family conflict issues. What if one spouse needs more protection? How will you know if an agreement is fair? How can you know if your case is appropriate to settle outside of court, at all? Do you need a divorce attorney to fight for you? These are important concerns. My very first step as a professional divorce guide is to help you gain the knowledge you need to answer all those questions. You cannot know what is needed in your individual situation until you have learned about the benefits and drawbacks of the four main approaches to divorce: litigated divorce, collaborative divorce, mediated divorce, and uncontested divorce. Therefore, my first role will be to assist you in learning about your divorce options and then to help you decide what options might work best in your circumstances.
What to Expect at the Initial Consultation
At the initial consultation, I will learn enough about your circumstances to gain a clear idea of what issues you are facing. Then we will discuss the various ways of deciding those issues, pro’s and con’s of each method, and ballpark estimates of procedure and costs. My goal for the initial consultation is to help you take an objective look at your situation, to help you discern what your major challenges and needs will be, and to help you understand the different methods for establishing rights and obligations between divorcing parties or families in other types of conflict (adversarial litigation, collaborative divorce, divorce mediation, single lawyer divorce, and pro se divorce, also known as D-I-Y divorce).
Getting divorced is a high stakes matter. Every aspect of your future life is at stake: your finances, your living circumstances, how your children are raised. Contested litigation of divorce can cost between $30,000 and $100,000, but failure to protect your interests could be even more costly. How do you know if you need to litigate, or not? Is mediation, or some other avenue for getting divorced, appropriate? This consultation will help you know the answer to that question. Then, if you like, I will help you develop of list of “next steps” to get the ball rolling. The entire goal of this practical discussion is to get you started on the right path, not to “sell” you on a divorce process that might not be right for you.
For this valuable information session, I charge a fee of $200, whether one or both spouses come to the meeting. (If you are considering mediation, it is best if both spouses attend the initial session together.) Some people actually resolve minor disputes at their first appointment and need no further meetings. Regardless, there’s no pressure and no further obligation. For an initial consultation (or to ask a question) fill out this form:
Some people assume they must go to battle in court (litigated divorce). Divorce is a challenging time in life. Some people like the reassuring feeling of having an attorney who promises to “fight” for them and “win.” Other times, people are confident that they’ve got things worked out and they just want to file papers on their own (uncontested divorce). Most people fall in between these two extremes, somewhere in the middle. They haven’t agreed on everything (yet), but they don’t want to go to war, either. Often, both parties want to achieve the best divorce possible, to be fair but not to be taken advantage of, and they want to sort out a way where both can continue to be involved as parents even when they are living in different households. They use attorneys or a mediator to help them negotiate a fair settlement (mediated divorce and collaborative divorce). Given the range of circumstances, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all “best” solution for every divorce. Your very first need, therefore, is to discern what process is right for you.
Ranging from high to low — in terms of both adversarial nature and expense — your primary options to choose among for divorce are: litigated divorce, collaborative divorce, mediated divorce, or an uncontested divorce. Each of these has distinct risks, drawbacks, and benefits.
The services I personally offer are divorce mediation (and parenting and custody mediation), collaborative divorce (I am certified by the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals), and legal representation in uncontested divorce (especially, divorces which have been settled with help of other mediators). I am proud to call myself a mediator. I study mediation and negotiation and aspire to excellence in both skills. However, the skill set to be a great mediator is not the same skill set that it takes to be a great litigator. When it appears that litigation is the best option — and indeed there are cases where litigation is the only reasonable option — I do not try to be a “Jack of All Trades” and turn myself into a litigator. Rather, I help parties locate litigating attorneys who have the skills they need.
Regardless whether it is me or someone else who helps you, my goal is to understand and meet the needs of my clients for a “happier ending to the story of their marriage (TM).”