Erie Divorce & Family Law
Anywhere in Erie County: Edinboro, North East, Corry, and Girard
THE COLLABORATIVE PROCESS or THE COURT BASED SYSTEM
"HOW DO I KNOW WHICH WAY IS RIGHT FOR ME?"
How you & your spouse choose to handle your divorce, custody, and financial matters will set the tone for the rest of your life. Although you will be divorced at some point, how you get there will profoundly effect your life and the lives of your children. I strongly encourage you to click on the links below. After you have watched the Kids in the Crossfire video, and read the information provided, then please come back and read through the rest of the information on this page.
THE COLLABORATIVE PROCESS:
Divorce, Custody, Support, Property Division
Collaborative Law is the practice and art of settling cases with legal counsel, but without court intervention at any stage. All negotiations take place in four-way conferences between the parties and their attorneys. Each client has built-in legal advice and advocacy during negotiations and each attorney is committed to guiding the clients toward reasonable resolutions. The attorneys cannot go to court or threaten to go to court. Settlement is the only agenda and all involved rely upon an atmosphere of cooperation and professionalism.
The goals of the collaborative process are: to create an environment in which each party can have his and her legitimate needs met; to assist the parties in gathering all necessary information and analyzing that information for choices and options; to assess all options determining the consequences of each; to guide the parties in developing settlement proposals and to help them negotiate a durable and lasting agreement.
"I have been practicing law since 1995. After years of nasty family litigation, I am truly delighted to represent clients using the collaborative process. My goal has always been to leave a client in a better position than when I first met them. This is truly possible when applying the collaborative process to family law cases" -- Damon C. Hopkins
All too often, a family law case becomes "nasty" due to the very nature of the court based legal system. Each person's lawyer is trained to 'fight' for their client and the clients are pitted 'against' each other, which aggravates the underlying issues/conflicts. This can lead spouses down the wrong path, encouraging them to oppose one another and to give the responsibility for decision-making to their attorneys and the court. The decisions that are later made by the court system rarely ever equal what either person wanted. The last thing anyone should ever want is for a stranger (ie. Judge) to make decisions about how your children should be raised, or how your hard earned assets should be divided.
Minneapolis attorney Stuart Webb developed this alternative process in 1990 to give spouses a way to end marriages cooperatively, face-to-face, with the help and guidance of attorneys, but without going to court. In the Collaborative Process, the trained professionals help their clients remember that the children need to be kept out of the middle of parental conflict. In Collaborative Law, a respectful, creative effort to meet the legitimate needs of both parties and their children replaces positional bargaining backed by threat of litigation.
COURT BASED SYSTEM:
Divorce, Custody, Support, Property Division, PFA, ICC
The Court Based system is the default way to handle family law matters. Each person is usually represented by their own attorney with the ultimate decision maker being a Judge or other court officer. Cases that go this route are considered litigation cases and are generally very adversarial. Traditionally, this is what most people think is "the only way" to handle these issues. Some cases must be handled in the court system, ie. PFA & ICC.
If you find yourself facing any of the above Family Law situations in the court based system, this will most likely be a horribly scary and stressful time in your life. You need an attorney who cares about you and who can guide you through the Family court system. Divorce, Custody, Support, and PFA's are tricky areas of the law, if you don't have the right legal representation you could get stuck with an excessive support order, be denied precious custody rights, or lose a large amount of your personal assets including pensions & retirement funds.
Protection From Abuse Order (PFA)
PFA stands for a Protection From Abuse order. Typically when a spouse or loved one feels threatened or abused by another person they may seek the assistance of the Courts by asking for a PFA, which is essentially a restraining order preventing a person from having any contact whatsoever with the "abused individual". A PFA can be very dangerous to you, the Court will give the abused individual an attorney for free, DO NOT try to handle this matter on your own, talk to my office before it's too late for you!
Indirect Criminal Contempt (ICC)
ICC stands for Indirect Criminal Contempt. If you have a PFA against you and have been accused of violating it, the police will charge you with an ICC. If you have been charged with violating a PFA order, call my office immediately so we can discuss the best way for you to proceed.
Contact Our Erie, Pennsylvania Office
Call my office today to schedule a consultation on your Family Law case. While most attorney's charge hundreds of dollars just to talk with you over the phone, our consultation fee is only $80.00 for an in office meeting where I will personally answer all of your Family Law questions. Contact us by calling 814-455-3100 for more information or to schedule an appointment.
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