You do not have to navigate divorce alone.
Divorce is difficult and emotional for all parties involved, and the legal hoops you have to jump through to end a marriage make this process even more challenging.
At Forward Legal, we understand the complexities and nuances that come with this territory. We are committed to assist our clients with clear guidance, compassionate insight, and honest assessments of their options and paths ahead.
You do not have to navigate divorce alone.
When facing divorce, there are a few differing paths…
Traditional Divorce Litigation
Our last-resort approach to divorce works when nothing else will.
Litigation is generally something to be avoided because of the cost, strain and uncertainty involved in a trial or hearing. Our attorneys strive to reach consensus and resolution in our client’s cases, however, if litigation is necessary, we are ready and able to provide zealous advocacy for our clients. Our attorneys are well-respected among the state bar and judiciary for our skills, intellect and exemplary representation of our clients inside and outside the courtroom.
The traditional litigation process is an adversary process in which each party to the divorce advocates his or her position on the issues involving child custody and placement, child support, maintenance and property division. The attorney will often conduct formal discovery to gather evidence by a variety of litigation tools such as depositions, interrogatories, and requests for production of documents. It is not unusual to engage the services of experts in psychology, child development or experts in valuing assets such as a house or business. Once all the evidence is gathered, the attorney will then prepare the client for his or her testimony at trial, arrange for witnesses to testify on the client’s behalf, and put forth legal arguments that advance the client’s objectives. The trial is heard by the judge in the courtroom and can span anywhere between a day to weeks depending on the complexity of the case.
A divorce alternative where each party is represented by attorney, but both side agree to avoid court.
The collaborative divorce is an alternative to traditional litigation. In the collaborative setting, the parties enter into a contract that neither party will seek court intervention in deciding the issues of the case and that everyone is committed to reaching a settlement together including the lawyers who are trained in the collaborative approach. Our attorneys are trained and experienced in the collaborative model and are members of the Collaborative Family Law Council of Wisconsin.
The collaborative model can include as few as four people consisting of each party and his or her attorney, or it can bring in other professionals to assist the parties such as Divorce Coach for one or both parents, a Child Specialist to give an independent voice of the children, and a Financial Neutral who can offer various financial settlement options that represent both parties’ objectives and interest.
A non-binding agreement that can lead to a low-stress, timely and low-cost divorce.
A Cooperative Divorce model involves a commitment by the parties that they will timely cooperate with the divorce process and be honest and forthright about any information or documentation requested by the party’s attorney. Unlike the collaborative law model, there is no contract or agreement to not seek court intervention in the divorce but a mutual understanding and commitment that everyone wishes to avoid litigating their disputes. The Cooperative Model is intended to be less stressful and costly than traditional litigation yet offers the option to pursue traditional litigation if there is a breakdown in the cooperative process or an impasse between the parties.
Our very own Kimberly Ripp is also the owner of Madison Divorce Mediation.
A team-based approach to divorce via mediation outside the courtroom.
The interdisciplinary divorce is an exciting new model for divorce that combines the best features of litigation, collaborative, and cooperative models. The parties work with a Mediator who is has a legal background but does not work for or against either party, but whose role is to bring the parties towards consensus based on important legal information.
The parties can also receive the benefit of experts such as a Financial Neutral and/or a Mental Health Divorce Expert to assist the parties in coming to a fair and reasonable resolution. Our companion business, Madison Divorce Mediation is the leading company in offering this interdisciplinary model. If this is approach interests you and your spouse, we encourage you to contact us for more information or contact Madison Divorce Mediation directly.
A divorce process mediated by an 3rd party, with each party represented by an attorney.
The mediation model is premised on the parties and attorneys working with a Mediator who guides and assists the parties towards a settlement in their case. The Mediator is generally another family law attorney in the community or a retired judge.
Each party has his or her own attorney to offer legal advice while the Mediator will offer settlement options and ideas based on that Mediator’s own impression of the case and experience. The Mediator cannot make any decisions but only facilitate communication in reaching a settlement.
If the parties are able to reach a settlement, usually, a brief bullet-point Memorandum is drafted by the Mediator that is signed by the parties and attorneys at the conclusion of the mediation session. This Memorandum is then relied upon in drafting a more comprehensive document known as a Marital Settlement Agreement.
If the parties are unable to reach an agreement, neither party is disadvantaged by the attempt to reach a settlement in mediation nor can any of the offers made in the mediation be introduced or offered as evidence in a trial. The settlement discussions in mediation are confidential and cannot be used against either party if the case proceeds to litigation.
A “private divorce” model where the parties make the rules and a legal professional decide a final outcome with limited rights to appeal.
The arbitration model is essentially a “private divorce” in that the parties have a retired judge or lawyer decide the outcome of the case outside of the courtroom. It is private in the sense that it is not held in a public courtroom and the attorneys, with the Arbitrator, determine the formality or informality of the arbitration process. For example, the parties could agree that neither party will be required to testify or call witnesses, but rather, each party will have the opportunity to meet with the Arbitrator and have a conversation with him or her about why it is that he or she is seeking in the divorce. The parties could agree that these conversations alone would serve as the basis of the judge’s decision. Or, the arbitration can be as formal as litigation with the parties testifying, cross examinations, other witnesses are called to testify, the rules of evidence fully apply, opening and closing statements, and deadlines for the attorneys to exchange information. In most cases, the arbitration involves a hybrid of these two examples with less formality than litigation but more formality than a conversation with the judge.
Unlike mediation, with arbitration the parties will have the certainty of an outcome the end of the process with the Arbitrator making the decisions on any disputed issues. Once the arbitration is completed, the Arbitrator will issue an Arbitrated Award which has more significant binding effect than even a trial court’s decision because there are limited rights to appeal an Arbitrated Award. Nevertheless, the process is attractive to many clients because it is generally cost effective, quick, and private. Although the arbitration process occurs outside of the courtroom, the parties will be required to attend a brief hearing with the court to confirm their understanding of the arbitration award and testify to certain statutory requirements before the divorce can be granted.