Divorce/Family Law

If you, or your clients, are going through a divorce, need assistance creating a parenting plan (custody/visitation arrangement) or premartial agreement, or are facing co-parenting issues that have come up down the road, Pax can guide everyone involved through the process to reach a solution that respects the needs of each individual.  Family law issues are unique in that, unlike many other legal disputes, the parties often need to maintain relationships going forward.  Pax offers mediation, arbitration, and hybrid dispute resolution processes to help couples and families resolve their disputes and lay the groundwork for their futures in a less contentious and more cost-effective way so that they can move forward in peace.  Beyond helping couples and parents to resolve disagreements, Pax’s approach emphasizes building, repairing and enhancing relationships.  No matter how challenging or sensitive the issues may be, we work with the parties and their attorneys to not only reach a meeting of the minds today but also pave the way for a smoother road tomorrow. 

Family Law Mediation

Mediation provides a voluntary, confidential, and rational process allowing the parties to make decisions regarding their finances and their futures, resulting in the ability to uniquely meet the needs of couples, parents, and children.  It is particularly well-suited for family law issues since it provides the opportunity for each person involved to take part in crafting a creative and workable solution to the issues at hand.  We help both sides understand and communicate their individual and common interests, so they can explore practical options and reach settlements that benefit the family and secure the future of the children.  With the help of a skilled and caring mediator, the parties are often able to reach an agreement everyone can live with in a way that allows them to maintain mutual respect and move forward amicably.  We even offer flexible rate options in some cases.

Family Law Arbitration

When the parties are simply not able to agree upon a solution, arbitration can be utilized to give everyone clear direction going forward.  Arbitration places the decision in the hands of a neutral arbitrator but the issues are resolved much more quickly, less expensively, and more privately than they would be in court.  An arbitration decision is binding, just like a court order, and provides the finality couples and families need.  Montana recently decided to allow the arbitration of not only marital property and alimony issues, but all family law issues.  Upon this change in the law, Pax arbitrators underwent specific training in conducting Montana family law arbitrations and possess the expertise necessary to author decisions conveying a clear and binding framework to carry the parties into the future.

Divorce/Separation

Going through a divorce or separation can feel like one’s life has turned upside down and finding solid ground is a struggle.  It can be understandably difficult to navigate disagreements in a productive way when emotions run high.  Yet, finding common ground, in a way that allows all parties to move forward amicably with respect for one another, is the best way to reach a settlement.  Divorce litigation, while necessary to reach a determination on issues such as child support, spousal support, and division of assets, can quickly consume a significant bulk of a couple’s savings.  Reaching a voluntary settlement through mediation is often the best way to limit attorney fees and other court costs.  If a couple reaches agreement on the issues at hand, their lawyers can help draft a formal settlement agreement and parenting plan to be submitted to the court.  Once the court approves the terms, the agreement becomes an order and dissolution is finalized.  If an agreement cannot be reached, any remaining issues can be arbitrated by an experienced and neutral arbitrator who will render a decision that is as binding as a court order but requires less time and expense to obtain.

Whether mediation, arbitration, or a hybrid process is employed to reach resolution, our attorney-neutrals work on reducing the emotional, mental, and financial toll that litigation may have on separating couples and their children.  With our professional guidance, couples can work together in making decisions that concern their finances and their futures in an atmosphere of mutual respect or a neutral arbitrator can explore the needs and desires of all involved to render a decision in the best interest of both sides, and most importantly, their children.

Co-Parenting Issues

When life moves on, things change.  A parent might re-locate, a child’s needs may change with age, issues with schooling arise.  The ability of co-parents to parent amicably is vital for the well-being of their children.  When co-parents face challenges for which they are not able to agree on a solution or a parenting plan needs to be modified to meet changing needs, Pax can help ensure that the foundation you worked hard to establish will remain solid and that mutual respect will not be eroded in the process.   

Premarital/prenuptial Agreements

Discussing a premarital agreement with a spouse-to-be can be a touchy subject.  However, couples today are increasingly realizing the importance of doing just that.  Executing a premarital agreement does not indicate a lack of commitment to the marriage because it is a fact that every marriage will end at some point – if not through dissolution, upon the death of a spouse.  A premarital agreement is simply a contract between a couple who intend to marry that specifies how they want their property to be managed potentially during their marriage and upon the end of their marriage. 

After all, if a couple does not create their own agreement, one will be imposed upon them.  In the event of a contested divorce or the death of a spouse, the state will ultimately determine what happens to the couple’s assets – and frequently at much greater cost than the cost of executing a premarital agreement at the outset.  A premarital agreement gives couples the valuable opportunity to agree upon how they want their assets to be distributed in the event their marriage is dissolved or a spouse passes and the flexibility to provide for different scenarios instead of allowing the state to decide for them.

It is wise to approach the process of drafting a premarital agreement many months before the wedding so that any disagreements can be ironed out well in advance and wedding preparations can take place happily with the knowledge that this aspect is already complete.  When a couple is having a difficult time agreeing upon how to resolve these issues, a caring and creative mediator can often assist in helping them to find a solution that not only settles any issues but more importantly results in an even stronger, more loving marriage.

Family Law Alternative Fee Mediation
In matters in which the parties’ annual income does not exceed $200,000 and total assets are $750,000 or less:
  • 4 hour mediation conference / $695 per party
  • (fee includes 2 hours prep/follow-up time)

Additional professional time billed at standard hourly rate.