Drafting and Review Attorneys
Darren M. Shapiro, Esq. can work with you as a review attorney to prepare you for your mediation, speak with you as you go through it, and to review the agreement with you after it is prepared. Mr. Shapiro is often the drafting attorney that memorializes the terms of the settlement reached in a mediation to convert it into a formal legally binding agreement. Using review attorneys is a recommended step in the mediation process. Both the husband and the wife hire their own lawyers for the role of review attorney. Sometimes a short consultation is all that is required with a review lawyer just to make sure the party’s rights are understood. When legal agreements are made there is a presumption that the entry into the agreement was knowing, intelligent and voluntary. The review attorneys help to ensure that this presumption is more of a reality for the person they represent in the review.
When Darren acts as the review attorney, clients welcome his forthrightness honesty, patience, and thoroughness to ensure that his client understand her or his rights. While he might offer suggestions or point out deviations from the normal agreements, he does not seek to blow up the deal so to speak. Although this office litigates, we applaud people that are able to choose an alternative dispute resolution process such as collaborative law or mediation as it is a way to go through a divorce with dignity. We will be sure, however, that you understand everything and what normally might be expected.
The Law and Mediation Office of Darren M. Shapiro, P.C. works on litigation, uncontested cases, mediation and collaborative law divorce. We have the experience to guide our mediation clients, when acting as a review attorney, to give the right feedback on reasonable industry standards. You will understand your rights so that any deviation from normal expectations will be an intelligent decision on your part.
People choose mediation to craft agreements that meet their family’s particular situation so “deviations” are frequent. No two families are the same so a negotiated agreement in any case invariably will be different than any other one. As a review attorney, however, Darren can answer your questions about what he believes might have happened if a case had gone to trial. Sometimes there is an answer to that question, but often there is no precise answer to that question as the results can vary. Courts may also impose a “cookie cutter” decision that does not fit the particular family and that does not work for either side. The purpose of the review is not to blow up the mediation, but at times helpful suggestions to tweak the agreement might make sense. Frequently people receive the affirmation they need to realize that their agreement made sense for their case.
This office often acts as the drafting attorney to construct a separation agreement, post-nuptial agreement, pre-nuptial agreement, or stipulation of settlement after the terms have been agreed upon in a mediation. As Darren is both an attorney and a mediator, usually he is the drafting attorney for cases that we mediate. He cannot be the review attorney for cases that are mediated at this Law and Mediation Office since he is a neutral third party to his mediating couples.
The typical approach by this office in reviewing is to start with grounds. Grounds is not often a disputed matter for mediating couples nowadays since the No fault law was passed in 2010. The No-Fault divorce law is based upon the marriage being irretrievably broken for at least six months. It is not the husband’s fault or the wife’s, the marriage simply is no longer functional. If one of the fault based grounds is selected such as abandonment, adultery or cruel and inhuman treatment there could be implications worth discussing with your review attorney. This was more commonly an issue in the past before the passage of the No-Fault law. If one of the fault based grounds was selected this office will explore with the reviewing party if more innocuous grounds are possible.
The type of custody is an important area to discuss with our clients in reviewing the settlement agreement when there are minor children under eighteen years of age. There are different custody arrangement such as sole custody, residential custody, joint custody and share custody. We will make sure the wording of the agreement comports with what it is that the client understands they were agreeing upon. Some people want to know why custody might be able to be modified going forward. We can explain this to our review clients. Some people want an analysis about what would have happened if the custody issue was litigated. We can give our assessment based on the facts and wishes of everyone involved. It is not the place of a neutral mediator to give this type of advice. Custody and parenting time should be discussed with your review lawyer.
Maintenance and child support are important topics to understand as it directly affects the bank accounts of our clients. People want to know if the agreement is fair and in accordance with how a court might decide the issue. This office can discuss if a deviation from the guidelines might be appropriate. The length of time maintenance can go on is often a topic of inquiry. Are there additional items that should or should not be included in child support? What about life insurance, private school or college? Can these be included in child support? All of these are appropriate topics for our office to address as a review attorney. Mr. Shapiro will review the agreement regarding equitable distribution. Were there any claims to what was called separate property? Were professional licenses, businesses, or degrees actually marital property? Even though not everyone does in fact take the advice of using a review attorney, hopefully this page has helped illuminate why it is a recommended step.
Give us a call to schedule your consultation. Feel free to click around the website and our blog for more information on specific areas of matrimonial and family law. We would welcome the chance to hear from you. It would be our pleasure to speak with you about your case.