Stop me if you have heard this before. With many divorce lawyers, when you are ready to proceed you will schedule the initial consultation. During that meeting, the lawyer will ask you a lot of legal questions about your situation. At the end of the meeting, they will tell you that to move forward with the process, you will need to pay them a large retainer.
At this point, you don’t know what the plan is, or what the lawyer intends to do with your case. Maybe they told you that they will help you file a lawsuit or draft a separation agreement. But that’s about all you know.
Fast forward a couple of months and an initial lawsuit has been filed, or agreement drafted (partially) and you don’t feel any closer to resolving your case than you were when you first hired the lawyer.
Am I making sense so far?
There is a Better Way
At The Hart Law Firm, P.A. we have developed a structured process to manage your case from beginning to end, one step at a time. At the center of this process is you, the client, and your goals, priorities, and concerns – and it all starts with our 5-step strategic divorce process.
This process is intended to move you through your divorce case as quickly and cost-efficiently as possible. This isn’t by mistake. We know from experience that our happiest clients are the ones who get their cases done quickly and without spending their entire life savings.
Our Proven 5 Step Divorce Process
At the end of your initial assessment, we will talk with you in detail about our process and how it works. Here is a quick overview of our 5 step divorce process:
- Initial Assessment
- Strategy Session
- Reassess and Review
Most of your case will alternate between stages 2-4. Develop a strategy. Implement. Reassess. In this way, we are constantly tweaking and reassessing your case to move it forward to settlement. Along the way, we will knock out issues that both you and your spouse can agree on until we reach a final settlement agreement.
This is the first meeting with our office. It is an opportunity for you to tell us everything we need to know about your case and start to get to know our office and how we work. You will walk away from the initial assessment with answers to many of your initial questions, and a plan for how your case will proceed as well as an estimate of what your financial investment will be to have a lawyer helping you through every step of the legal process.
After you retain us to represent you, we will give you some “homework”. This may include a more thorough questionnaire to complete, as well as a list of financial documents to gather. You will be assigned a paralegal from our office to assist you in gathering and organizing all of this information. After you have completed this initial assignment, we will meet for an initial strategy session. During that meeting we will help solidify an initial action plan for your case.
This is where the rubber meets the road. In the implementation stage, we will start the process of engaging with your spouse or their lawyer in the form of delivering an initial settlement proposal or draft separation agreement. If you have hired us to litigate your matter, we will file and serve an initial lawsuit and schedule temporary hearings.
Reassess and Review
After we contact your spouse, there will be a waiting period while they hire a lawyer, prepare a response to our proposal, or respond to our lawsuit. Once we finally get their response, we will decide what needs to happen next. At this stage, we will meet (over the phone or in-person) to review where we are at, and decide on how best to proceed.
One we reach the settlement stage, your case is almost finished. But just because we have reached settlement doesn’t mean there isn’t more work to be done. During this stage we will negotiate and draft the final settlement documents, which could be a court order, a final separation agreement or both. You may need to have us draft an order to divide retirement accounts (which is a separate engagement). Other assets may need to be transferred (such as vehicles and houses), mortgages may need to be refinanced, or you may need to sell a home.
In other words, reaching a settlement is just the first step towards finalizing your divorce, and can take several months. But we will be with you every step of the way to make sure everything is handled properly.
Absolute Divorce… The Final Step
One your case has been completely resolved, assets divided, and financial accounts unwound, the final step is to obtain your Absolute Divorce. This is a fairly straightforward matter and something we can help you with after everything else has been resolved. Only a Judge or the Clerk of Court can grant you a divorce, which means that you will need to file a lawsuit to obtain your divorce judgment.