Divorce Resolution Method
The Divorce Resolution Method (“DRM”) is a process designed to assist parties through their dissolution of marriage proceedings from start to finish as swiftly, accurately and pain free as possible. The DRM has been developed over a period of many years to alleviate the delays and cost of going through the court system. In a time when the courts are essentially not able to handle cases efficiently, the DRM is an alternative in getting to and going through the courts.
Here is the process:
- Each party selects an individual attorney from a designated list to represent them.
- The parties then select a neutral attorney from a designated list. The neutral acts as a non-confidential and binding arbitrator with the power to make decisions should either spouse be unable to agree on any issue after serious effort and negotiation.
- After the parties have selected and retained their individual attorneys and the binding arbitrator, the parties will then schedule four sessions:
Session One: A one-hour session, all in, to review the process and identify the issues. Forms are provided to each party to complete. Included in the forms is a Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure (“PDOD”) packet which includes a Schedule of Assets and Debts (“SAD”) and an Income and Expense Declaration (“I&E”). These forms are the key to a successful process. They must be completed fully and accurately with supporting documents. The forms are required by the court in all cases and are the basis for information, negotiation and settlement. These forms to be completed before Session Two.
Session Two: A two-hour session, all in, to begin reviewing completed forms and to begin working through the following items:
- Are there temporary issues of immediate importance, such as physically separating, temporary child custody, temporary support and the like?
- Looking at the final settlement, what is each side proposing for child custody?
- Begin discussing and analyzing child support and spousal support.
- Begin discussing and analyzing estate division.
At the end of session two, assess what is resolved, what needs to be done, and what further documentation, if any, is needed. At the end of session two, a Stipulation with agreed upon issues is drafted and signed and the remaining issues are tabled for the next session. Further documentation, as needed, will be brought to session three.
Session Three: A four-hour session to continue discussions and progress through the issues. At the end of session three, a Stipulation with agreed upon issues is drafted and signed and the remaining issues are tabled to the next session.
Session Four: A four-hour session to finish the case. The first half is spent continuing negotiations and discussions. If any issues remain unresolved after the first half (two hours), they are presented and argued by each side to the binding arbitrator in the second half of the session. The arbitrator then makes a final, binding decision on all unresolved issues.
The arbitrator drafts the agreement or decision, the final judgment and judgment packet. Documents are circulated for signing and filing with the court.
The DRM process is not suited for:
- Couples who already have an agreement; or
- Couples who are in high conflict and do not wish to work together towards problem solving.
DRM is suited for couples who can commit to diligently and responsibly resolving their issues and who are ready to move forward at a reasonably accelerated pace. DRM can handle a case of any size. The model outlined here may be modified to fit each individual case. For instance, a less complicated case may be resolved earlier and in fewer sessions. A complex case with multiple issues may require adding neutral experts, such as a business appraiser, a real estate appraiser, a child custody evaluator, a vocational evaluator and may require additional sessions.
The rates for DRM are based on a sliding scale. A retainer in a typical mid-size case would be $5,000 per attorney (a total of $15,000 between the two individual attorneys and the binding arbitrator). A low-end for a small estate and simple case would be approximately $3,500. A high-end case retainer will be quoted after an initial consultation with a DRM attorney. The retainer rates are expected to approximate the final cost, but this cannot be guaranteed as cases sometime veer off into unexpected places. The attorneys that enroll in DRM are committed to using their good faith efforts to guide their client to a swift and economical settlement.