Navigating to an Amicable Separation Part 3 and 4

3.  Gathering Necessary Information and Documents.

In order for me to fully analyze a person's case I must see all of the cards in the playing deck before we can attempt to enter into the settlement resolution process.  This phase is important and sometimes it may take some time to gather all the necessary information.  In discussing the case with my client, I will identify all of the financial documents and information that I will need.  I will send my client home with homework to fill me in on their monthly budget and to fill out a listing of all known property, (personal, real, retirement, bank and investment property) income and debts and the corresponding values of said property or debts.  Once my client can communicate what they are able to obtain on their own, we then discuss what all is needed from the other party.  Often times my clients have little or no access to very important financial documents that I need before proceeding to a settlement resolution.  Thus, with the help of my client, I will obtain a good list of what we need to request from the other side to get a complete picture of the parties' marital estate.  Once I have made the requests for income, financial, property and debt document requests and received the same, I will then update my client by giving them a full analysis of the their specific case considering the income, property and debts of the parties.  At this point, with my advice, my client and I will formulate a strategy to reach a successful separation resolution.

4.  Proceed to Resolution.

Having the full picture of the parties' income, expenses, property and debts helps me educate my clients by applying the law to their specific case.  After this analysis and strategy session, we again discuss the best means for a settlement resolution in their case.  I give my advice from past experience considering important input from my client.  Identifying the right procedural vehicle to reach a successful separation is important and unique to each case.  I will advise my clients of all options including: Attorney negotiations, collaborative meeting of the parties and attorneys, out of court mediation, arbitration, or court action.  I explain the pros and cons of each manner to reach an outcome.  I advise my client of what I believe will help them reach a successful resolution in the most cost effective way.  It is my personal belief that the overwhelming majority of my clients are best served by using a process that brings a resolution out of court.  I try to advise clients that Court should be a last resort used for a select few cases that have such strong circumstances that would prevent out of court resolution.  After identifying the process which we will use to try to bring about resolution, we will again review our negotiation strategy.  I encourage all clients to understand that you should not expect to have a crushing victory if you are attempting an out of court resolution.  I want my clients to analyze and prioritize what is most important to them and to identify areas in their separation where they can be willing to compromise.  As we enter the settlement process, I advise my client of the opposing party's offers.  I will often give my advice of my opinions of the party's potential court outcomes on certain issues.  My client's need to understand what I believe their best day in court and their worst day in court would look like.  When offers from the opposing party have not entered into the range of what I believe would happen in court, then I strongly encourage my client to decline these offers and counter with offers that are far more reasonable.  Once the offers from the other side enter the range of possibilities that I believe could happen in court, then I will continue to help my client identify ways they can compromise while still emphasizing what is most important to them.  If the parties can reach a resolution then I will prepare the necessary separation documents for signature to create a legal and binding separation, child custody, child support and property distribution agreement or order for my client.  After going through this full four step process and having an opposing party that is committed to resolving their case out of court, my clients are often able to reach a successful separation resolution.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        By,  J. Franklin Mock

Whitfield & Mock, PLLC
634 E. Center Avenue
Mooresville, NC 28115

Phone: 704-663-5350
Fax: 704-663-4001
Whitfield & Mock, PLLC, represents residents in Lake Norman and communities such as Mooresville, Davidson, Cornelius, Troutman, Concord, Statesville, Mount Ulla, Kannapolis, Iredell County, Mecklenburg County and Cabarrrus County, North Carolina.
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