Fresno Family Law Attorney Says Collaborative Law Can Provide Smoother and More Affordable Divorce

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Fresno family law attorney Erin Rhames-Childs says collaborative law can help people can reduce the conflict and cost of divorce litigation.

People facing a divorce need to know they have another option

Fresno family law attorney Erin Rhames-Childs knows that most divorces are expensive. Divorcing spouses can end up paying between $5,000 and $30,000 or more in legal fees and court costs. People who may not intend to spend several years in court often find themselves caught up in a long fight because zealous attorneys and the nature of litigation push them into it.

"Fortunately," says Rhames-Childs, "most people can avoid the conflict and complete a divorce within a much more reasonable length of time and at much lower expense."

Collaborative law can help divorcing people prevent a long and expensive lawsuit. It can cost much, much less, and take only a few months, instead of several years. Most importantly, it is designed to prevent the contentious and emotionally draining litigation practices by preventing animosity and encouraging cooperation.

In the collaborative process, the parties begin by recognizing that long, costly, and terrible divorces can happen without their really intending them, simply because of the adversarial nature of the process. "I have seen this happen in many cases," says Rhames-Childs. "People get caught up in the battle and then they can't let go."

The next step in the process of collaborative divorce is for the spouses to select collaborative lawyers, who are specially trained in the collaborative process. "Very few lawyers are trained in collaborative divorce, and because the approach is so radically different, an untrained lawyer will usually be less effective and more expensive," says Rhames-Childs.

In response to that prospect, both of the divorcing people, along with their collaborative lawyers, agree in writing to be open and respectful, not to take their dispute into court, and not to take unreasonable positions just to see if they can succeed in squeezing more out of the other side. They will openly negotiate the terms of their divorce, making mutual agreements about property division, child and spousal support payments, and child custody and visitation.

They will negotiate the agreements together, in a series of meetings with both spouses and their respective collaborative attorneys.

Some collaborative divorces can be completed with just one or two such meetings, others take a few more. "It depends on different things," says Rhames-Childs. "Sometimes a case is just more complicated because people have more stuff to divide." Almost all collaborative divorces are completed within a few months, though, without going to court, without racking up shocking attorney fees, and without using litigation to destroy either spouse's financial and emotional stability.

"People facing a divorce need to know they have another option," says Rhames-Childs.

Erin Rhames-Childs is a Fresno collaborative divorce attorney who also provides services for child custody, child support, spousal support, adoptions, guardianships, grandparent rights, domestic partnerships, and domestic violence restraining orders. Childs & Childs is proud to work throughout the Central Valley including cities like Fresno, Madera, Clovis, Kingsburg, Reedley, Selma, Tulare, Hanford, Visalia, Merced, Modesto and Coalinga.

Erin Rhames-Childs, Partner
Childs & Childs, PLC

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