Westlake Park Place
Offices in Westlake Village, Encino, Brentwood, Pasadena, Downtown LA, Santa Clarita
2945 Townsgate Road, Suite 200
Westlake Village CA 91361
Since 2007, The California Courts have officially recognized the Collaborative approach as the fastest, and most effective way to resolve a family divorce in California.
FamilyFirst Law was created as a specialized law firm with the vision to transform how families resolve conflict and to provide a safe-haven when they need guidance resolving disputes before and after the marriage. Litigation can last for years. And the process is usually emotionally destructive and often leaves couples financially bankrupt. Furthermore, there is a misconception that a final judgment on legal issues ends all the problems. This is never the case. California courts retain jurisdiction over a host of issues such as: child custody, visitation, child support, and spousal support. Unless and until couples learn to cooperate and work together, they will almost always end up back in court at some point and often several times.
We believe strongly that negotiation and open dialogue need to start right at the beginning. The litigation process raises the partys emotional levels and taints the ability of individuals to think clearly about whats most important for their future. Litigation creates conflict, and is the complete opposite of problem-solving which is what families need most.
Our vision is to structure a process that opens the channels of communication in a way that supports creative thinking, and promotes education and active participation in the development of a long term solution. Our firm is committed to a methodology that: (1) eliminates all the drawbacks of complex, lengthy and expensive litigation, (2) significantly reduces the out of pocket costs, (3) accelerates the process of settlement, (4) preserves the integrity of the family unit, (5) fosters respectful communication, (6) preserve emotional capital, and (7) moves the parties towards a successful outcome.
FamilyFirst Law approaches every familyÂs legal, social, financial, and emotional issues with a complete and balanced professional teamwork methodology. The team of trained professionals include: Attorneys, Marriage and Family Therapists, Certified Divorce Financial Analysts, Career Advisers, and Settlement Counselors who all work together with you in a collaborative model. Under this unique approach, parties are more likely to find mutually acceptable solutions and reach agreement. In addition, we believe it is important to remove the fear associated with separation and divorce by educating the parties on how the law affects their case and their issues, and how financial decisions may affect their present and future. The goal is to restructure the family into new model--a model that focuses on the needs of the children while also balancing the priorities of both parents. Remember, you are not ending your relationship with each other, you are merely changing it.
NegotiationFIRST Collaborative Methodology
At FamilyFirst Law, we have spent years developing and designing a system which simply works. Our system leads not only to successful settlement agreement within months, it fosters a healthier relationship long term, and helps facilitate good co-parenting communication. Our lawyers are trained and Certified in Alternative Dispute Resolution and have incorporated some the foremost leading strategies for successful martial dispute resolution. Our modern methodology and approach has been used to successfully resolved hundreds of complex marital issues out-of-court.
Collaborative lawyers have a completely different state of mind about what their job is than conventional lawyers generally bring to their work. We call it a "paradigm shift." Instead of being dedicated to getting the largest possible piece of the pie for their own client, no matter the human or financial cost, collaborative lawyers are dedicated to helping their clients achieve their highest intentions for themselves in their post-divorce restructured families.
WHY IS COLLABORATIVE LAW SUCH AN EFFECTIVE SETTLEMENT PROCESS?
Collaborative lawyers do not act as a hired guns. Nor do they take advantage of mistakes inadvertently made by the other side. Nor do they threaten, or insult, or focus on the negative either in their own clients or on the other side. They expect and encourage the highest good-faith problem-solving behavior from their own clients and themselves, and they stake their own professional integrity on delivering that, in any collaborative representation they participate in. Collaborative lawyers are incentivized to provide unbiased legal advice because they are not swayed by the desire to retain their clients hourly billing.
Collaborative Law offers a greater potential for creative problem-solving than does either mediation or litigation, in that only Collaborative Law puts all parties in the same room pulling in the same direction to solve the same list of problems. Lawyers excel at solving problems, but in conventional litigation they pull in opposite directions. As legal professionals, we cannot succeed as a Collaborative Legal Process unless we can find solutions to both party's problems and issues that everyone finds satisfactory. This is the special characteristic of Collaborative Law that is found in no other dispute resolution process.
EXCLUSIVELY COMMITTED TO COLLABORATIVE SOLUTIONS
At FamilyFirst Law, our center, and all our professionals are exclusively committed to collaborative solutions. This means that we only advocate out-of-court settlement solutions, and we do NOT represent individuals in an adversarial or conventional divorce process. We do not believe in the old conventional divorce methods because the legal system was never truly designed to meet the needs of families who are going through such emotionally difficult times in their lives. While we understand that differences and disagreements can seem overwhelming at times, we know that most issues can be resolved more effectively through a collaborative team approach with trained professionals helping guide the parties through the promotion of education and active participation.
We are not distracted by the prospect of being able to still represent a party if negotiations break down. We are also not distracted by the traditional and often time-consuming litigation process. Our only incentive is to identify the issues and structure a settlement--one that is embraced by both sides, out-of-court.
GUARANTEEING RESULTS THROUGH
ÂÂALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION (ADR)
One of the unique advantages of the NegotiationFIRST Collaborative Methodology is the ability of the parties to avail themselves of ADR. Occasionally one issue may become difficult for the parties to find common ground despite the fact that they may have successfully compromised on dozens of other issues related to their divorce. When this happens, FamilyFirst Law is in a unique position to allow the parties to arbitrate this isolated issue in our private forum. Rather than waste all the goodwill and successful negotiation which the parties have achieved up to this point, the ADR process allow the parties to effectively litigate just that one issue, and not their entire case. It also allows the parties to keep their matter private instead of moving their case back into the public forum, the California Courts, where the conventional adversarial process could get out of hand, and the parties could find themselves in pitched battle for years.
Private ADR arbitration is offered as a flat rate service, and while it takes place in front of a private judge, or judicial panel, it is not like a formal courtroom proceeding. The parties are free to negotiate the scope of the hearing. The parties are not required to follow the formal rules of evidence, or even the rules of civil procedure which makes the hearing much easier for parties to conduct on their own without legal representation while still getting a fair chance to make their case. Nonetheless, the parties are certainly free to obtain independent legal counsel to prepare and argue on their behalf. Once a decision is reached, the judgment is binding, and it then becomes incorporated into the final martial settlement agreement.
At FamilyFirst Law, we are advancing the new, modern approach to family law, respectfully.
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