Divorce & Family Law Column By:
Chadwick M. Layton, Esq.[i]
Harvey, Waddell & Layton, P.A.
Once the decision has been made to get divorced, going about the task of separating all that a couple has built together in an equitable manner is best done by a licensed divorce attorney.
However, hiring a professional to assist in the process of divorce often times brings with it the connotation of an ugly divorce or a litigated divorce. A litigated or ugly divorce is not the goal for any (sane) person whom is contemplating divorce.
Therefore, hiring a divorce professional that shares the interests and goals of the client is paramount to setting the stage for responsible divorce.
When done properly from the start, the attorney will work with the client toward a Collaborative Divorce. This defines the process as an out of court dispute resolution method where the attorney and the client become a team working toward one goal, which is to reach an amicable divorce settlement that meets all requirements under the law and assures both parties to the marriage receive a fair distribution from the marriage.
If children are involved, a custom parenting plan is also drafted. The best interests of the child are defined and followed as the driving force in the parenting plan. If needed, a neutral parenting coordinator will assist with the parenting plan. The key is that the interests of the child are the starting point and the plan is then built around that premise.
The need for an informed, responsible and respectful divorce process is one that I have identified and worked to address during my ten year career in family law. This need for a middle ground is clear when looking at potential options from the client perspective which include choosing between (1) hire a lawyer to litigate my divorce; or (2) go at it alone and hope that I end up with a fair settlement which addresses all assets, liabilities, alimony claims and tax consequences.
A third option does exist, which is to interview with an ethical and experienced divorce attorney that will approach the process from a problem solving perspective and work to achieve an out of court comprehensive marital settlement agreement.
[i] Chadwick M. Layton is a partner and shareholder at Harvey, Waddell & Layton, P.A., located in downtown Lake Worth, he is also a member of the Florida Bar Family Law Section and the Susan Greenberg Family Law American Inn of Court of the Palm Beaches, further information is available at www.LaytonLawOffices.com or (561) 585-4631.