Family law is, above all else, about families. Whatever label is put on a legal case, at the heart of every family law matter is a family who loves and supports each other. “Families” are no longer seen as just spouses with a marriage license or as two parents of the same sex; all partners and parents who choose to be together share the same bonds that have always stood at the core of family ideals.
I am attorney Cynthia L. Lazar. I understand all of the dynamics and complexities of family law cases. As a certified family law and divorce mediator, I know when to settle and when and how to pursue cases to the maximum level. I will find the right approach to use when handling your unique case.
Experienced In All Family Law Matters
My practice takes cases within all areas of family law, including pre-petition concerns regarding domestic violence and emergency support, as well as post-petition issues like changed circumstances that may affect child support and parenting plans. As a lawyer focusing primarily on family law, I routinely address issues involving:
- Parenting plans and parenting time
- Child support and health care expenses
- Temporary and permanent spousal maintenance (alimony)
- Mediation and other alternative dispute resolution methods
- Adoption and determination of paternity
- Legal separation and annulment
- Military divorce
- Division of retirement assets
A skilled family law attorney must understand that the outcome of each case will affect the most basic, and most important, of all human relationships: the bond between partners, as well as parents and their children. The parties involved in a family law matter will find themselves experiencing a full range of emotions, from sadness, anger and bitterness to fear for the future. Family law issues can be emotionally draining, especially if children are concerned. The mixture of emotions and overwhelming stress adds a special dimension to family law that is just not present in other types of cases. You deserve a family law attorney who is aware of all of these issues.
Mediation As An Alternative To Litigation
What is mediation?
You are probably familiar with the “traditional” divorce approach whereby each spouse retains an attorney. The attorneys prepare to negotiate or to litigate your case. If the divorce is negotiated, the lawyers will go back and forth with each other and, ideally, keep their clients in the loop as negotiations proceed. If efforts are unsuccessful, then the case is litigated and the marital estate is often severely depleted by the high costs of litigation.
By contrast, in mediation, you negotiate directly with your spouse through the assistance of a trained mediator who brings creative thinking and innovative solutions to your case. Doing so allows spouses to navigate their legal separation while minimizing arguments, financial costs and difficulty for any children involved.
How can you mediate when you can’t communicate with one another?
The most common question asked about mediation is, “How can I mediate when I have these negative feelings toward my spouse?” A skilled mediation attorney is specially trained for this exact situation. Within each mediation session, the mediator works to keep the focus on identifying immediate and long-term needs. The mediator will help you examine your individual goals and interests and act as a neutral third party who listens equally to both spouses. An experienced mediation attorney will take all of the unique factors of your case into consideration and work alongside you and your spouse to develop a plan of action tailored to both of your needs.
Why should I attempt mediation instead of litigation?
Psychologists tell us that children suffer when divorcing parents expose them to continuing, high-level parental conflict. A stressful divorce can negatively impact children in both their short- and long-term adjustments. Litigation can, and usually does, escalate the level of animosity between the parents and thereby also increases the level of conflict. Mediation helps parents focus their energy on problem-solving instead of fruitless arguments.
Additionally, the cost of a mediated divorce is often just a fraction of the cost of a contested or litigated divorce. In mediated proceedings, you will still retain a lawyer; however, your lawyer’s role is as a consultant, not a litigator. You are encouraged to meet with your attorney to review issues that need to be addressed during mediation. While divorce mediation is not for everyone, I encourage you to consider this option as an alternative to high-cost litigation if at all possible.