In my divorce practice, I represent clients who want a resolution oriented, problem solving approach to their case with dignity, compassion, and efficiency. I focus on educating the client about the process and the range of options so the client can make sound reality based decisions. The majority of my clients are engaged in mediation or collaborative practice.
In my mediation practice, I learn what is of most importance to each party and then I explore alternatives for how those needs can be met. I help the parties to understand their financial realities and work toward an optimal settlement. I maintain neutrality while guiding the parties to reach their own agreement. When there are children, I assist the parents to achieve a parenting plan that is good for them and their children. I use modern technology, such as mind mapping software, as an aid to helping the parties stay engaged in the process.
I started in a general practice law firm in downtown Ann Arbor. My practice areas included family law, real estate, trusts and estates, probate, and small businesses. Gradually, I narrowed my practice to family law and real estate law. I took mediation training to better assist my divorce clients who wanted a non-adversarial process. I found that mediation was an excellent fit for my approach to resolving divorce issues, and I began my career as a mediator. I also continued my divorce practice. Subsequently I trained in a new process for settling divorces called "collaborative practice." Similar to mediation, the collaborative approach encourages good faith problem solving in a non-adversarial process. The skills I learned in my collaborative training enhanced both my divorce practice as well as my mediation practice. I made the decision to end my real estate practice and concentrate full-time on family law and mediation. I limit my practice to Washtenaw County, where I have developed a substantial interdisciplinary network. I have been in solo practice for almost ten years.
I am a strong advocate of using alternative dispute resolution (non-court) methods of reaching settlements. Most of my clients are participating in mediation. I work with my clients to prepare them for mediation so they can participate effectively. When it is appropriate I will attend mediation sessions.
P.O. Box 3490
Ann Arbor MI 48106
I do not offer free consultations.
I do not provide services for a fixed fee, because mediation and family law are so variable.
My fee for mediation services is $250 per hr. My fee for divorce services is $300 per hour.
I see clients by appointment, and I am willing to meet with clients in the evening and on Saturday to accommodate their work schedules.
Mediation and divorce law is a very special area of practice. I get to know my clients well. I teach them, but I also learn from them. I have the opportunity to guide them through one of the most difficult periods in their lives and help them to come through it with a brighter outlook. This area of the law is not about winning or losing. It is about using creativity to problem solve and helping people to refocus from the past to the future.
Ending a relationship is all about making decisions that have a lasting impact, but those decisions often have to be made when the client is most vulnerable. I believe the more information clients have, the better able they are to make good decisions. I include links to informative websites on my own website, and I encourage clients to explore those links. I explain the process to clients, and I explore and explain the client's options. Mediation is a challenging process and I encourage clients to learn about it. I often recommend a workbook to prepare for mediation, "BE SMART: Prepare Yourself for Divorce Mediation" by Brady Mikusko.
Very rarely, I am asked to review a settlement agreement drafted by the client. I am willing to do that, but I find it usually costs the client less for me to draft the agreement than to review and modify the client-drafted agreement. More often, I am asked to review a mediation agreement prepared by a professional mediator, or a settlement agreement drafted by the attorney who represents the client's spouse. This is a service I routinely perform.
As a lawyer, I do not coach clients who represent themselves in a divorce. As a mediator, I do work with couples who are not represented by counsel, although I always recommend that they each meet with an attorney to review the agreement reached in mediation before signing it.
• Chin & Schwartz, partner
• Laird, Chin & Schwartz, partner
• Laird, Chin, Schwartz & Swartz, partner
• Laird & Grace, associate
Finances are an important part of almost all divorces. My undergraduate background in Business Administration has helped me understand and explain financial issues to my clients.
I have been practicing law for more than 30 years. During much of that time, real estate was a significant part of my practice. For many divorcing couples, real estate issues loom large. My background in this area has proven invaluable.
My training and experience in mediation and in collaborative practice have enhanced my ability to help clients reach agreements that meet their needs and their family's needs.
Being in solo practice for almost 10 years has forced me to be efficient. I have learned to use technology to improve my efficiency, and my clients benefit from this. I have incorporated technology into my mediation practice in ways that help the parties to focus on the reality of their situation and understand their options so they can make their best decisions.
I am good at listening to understand what is truly important to people.
As a mediator, I help people to understand their resources, their options, to evaluate their own needs, and to consider the needs of the other party and the children. I am good at helping people organize information and prioritize concerns. I am able to see each party's side of a situation and remain neutral while guiding them to resolutions that work for them. I keep the parties focused on reality based problem solving.
As a divorce lawyer, I also educate the client on the relevant legal issues. I advocate for the client and also help to empower the client to advocate for him/herself in order to reach an out of court settlement that meets the client's needs.
I enjoy spending time with family, learning about technology, and gardening.
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