Franchising v. Licensing: An Entrepreneur’s Dilemma

For those wishing to start a business and work for themselves, there are a number of perplexing decisions that have to be made right up front. One of the most important decisions that you will have to face is whether to license a product, service or idea from someone else, or enter into a franchise agreement. Of course, you can always create your own ideas, in which case you will want to secure them as intellectual property with patents, trademarks and copyrights. But today, we want to focus on the question of how to leverage someone else’s idea to make money.

Franchising is the way of the future

Many businesses work on a franchise model. This means that for an up-front fee and royalties, you have the opportunity to use the brand, supplier network, training, and resources of a larger company. The advantages to this approach are obvious, in that they allow you to get hands on training and specialized knowledge from someone who has already “done the hard work” of figuring out how to make a successful business run. You can learn from their mistakes, train with them, and even observe how their work is done in other stores.

Additionally, franchises typically require a certain amount of advertising from each of their franchisees. This means that by joining a growing network of other franchisees, you benefit from the marketing money that all of the franchisees are putting into the brand in a nation or region.

Of course, all of this assumes that the brand itself and the name have become well known and have a positive reputation. By spending money and constantly giving a percentage of your sales right off the top to this entity, you are giving up a fairly big bargaining chip as an entrepreneur right at the start. This means that you want to be sure that the franchise that you are tapping into has a great reputation and a name that is growing in the region of the country you’re in.

It also means that you are tied to this company. If they end up in a lawsuit because their products are allegedly infringing on others, you may be a part of that lawsuit too. If they have monetary problems, then the dissolution of the entire franchising network will certainly affect you. You want to make sure that there is a great deal of financial health in the “mothership” that you are tapping into.

Licensing products: a halfway approach

Instead of franchising, you also have the opportunity, in many cases, to license the product from someone else. This means paying them royalty on everything that you sell. This is similar to the franchising model but often doesn’t necessarily require that you enter into the same long-term binding agreements. You give them a royalty every time that you make a sale and that is it. You don’t get hands-on training, but you also aren’t typically required to do the kinds of marketing and other training sessions that can be required as part of franchise agreements. You aren’t affected if the franchise network breaks up because you can keep licensing the product or intellectual property from whomever owns it. You usually don’t get to sell it under the same brand because you are using their product in your business.

The advantages to licensing are less control from the outside. One of the biggest disadvantages is that they can typically stop licensing after a period of time, leaving you out in the cold. Of course, your requirements with the company are less onerous and you have more opportunities to branch out from there, should you desire.

Conclusion

Working with a business savvy attorney team is extremely important. These are just two of many approaches you have in building a business from the ground up. As an entrepreneur you may also want to consider what the same investment would do if you were to create your own product or service. Navigating the waters of licensing and franchising are extremely important and require careful analysis up front about how to best set up your business for success. If you have questions about licensing or franchising call one of our attorneys at Cornerstone Law Firm to set up a consultation today.

Foreclosure and Rent-to-Own Agreements

Rent-to-Own Agreements have become more popular in Pennsylvania in the last several years as an alternative method of financing for buyers who are unable to get traditional mortgages. Sellers sometimes offer these agreements as a way to obtain financing without going through a bank. Under this arrangement, the owner of a property agrees to sell the real estate in exchange for a certain purchase price paid out over years with an interest rate sometimes either explicitly written out or built into a rental amount paid each month. Usually the rent-to-own buyer also pays all taxes and insurance on the property.

Rent-to-own agreements typically come with contracts laying out all of these terms and requirements for what happens when there is a breach of the agreement. However, if the buyer breaches the agreement, the seller often will sue for breach of contract or for a simple eviction instead of going through foreclosure. Here are a few things you should know about rent-to-own agreements.

1. Rent-to-own agreements are technically legal but are scrutinized by judges when enforcement is sought.

The first thing that you need to know about rent-to-own agreements if you are being foreclosed on is that rent-to-own agreements are technically legal under Pennsylvania law, but judges are often understandably skeptical of them. In other words, judges have a lot of questions about how these agreements should be enforced because they are basically an attempt to get around both the typical landlord tenant rules and the foreclosure rules by “falling into the crack” between these two areas of law. An agreement to rent-to-own makes you neither a renter nor a buyer.

However, it is important to recognize that that doesn’t make them illegal per se. They can be enforced and there still can be serious consequences for breaching the agreement.

2. Look at the contract you have first to determine what remedies you have.

As an initial matter, the first place you should start is with the contract. Often the rent-to-own contracts are not written well, and there may be ambiguity in the way the contract is construed. It is important to talk to an experienced litigation or real-estate attorney to learn more about how the ambiguities in the agreement might be construed under relevant statues and precedents. However, if the agreement lays out remedies and protections that you have as the buyer, these are some of the first protections you should be raising in pleadings or with the court.

3. Foreclosure may be an appropriate remedy for the seller.

If the seller is just suing you under breach of contract or attempting to evict you, you may have a right to insist that they go through the foreclosure process. There are strenuous protections for buyers who are being foreclosed on if they are failing to meet their mortgages. You may have a right to invoke these protections under many rent-to-own agreements. Whether you have these rights is a delicate question of law that depends on the facts of your specific contract. Therefore, it is important to consult with a lawyer if you are in this situation.

4. Do not try to handle this on your own.

There are some points in life where it makes sense to try to handle things on your own. When you are being sued, and potentially going to lose all of the equity you have built in a home, that is not the appropriate time to try to handle things on your own. Call an expert. Speak with a real estate and litigation attorney, such as those at Cornerstone Law Firm, so you can learn more about the protections that you have under the law.

Do not lose the investment that you have put out into your property.

If you have been investing in real estate for some period of time with a seller who now wants to go back on the deal, or evict you because you have fallen behind, it is extremely important that you protect your rights. Contact an attorney at Cornerstone Law Firm for a consultation on what can be done to protect those rights.

Appealing a Custody Order

What do you do when a judge gets the custody decision wrong? How can you appeal a bad decision that is going to hurt your children or your family? Under Pennsylvania law there are typically two types of appeals that you take from custody orders.

Two Types of Appeals

The first is when a decision was made by a custody master. A “master” is a hearing officer who makes a determination that is essentially a recommendation to the judge. Depending on what county you are in, you may be able to appeal this decision to a judge of the Court of Common Pleas. You usually have 20 or 30 days to appeal this determination—but check local rules to be sure. This appeal involves asking a judge to take a second look. This review is done de novo, which means that the judge makes the determination all over again as if the master had not already ruled.

The second type of appeal is when the judge has made the decision after a trial. The appeal goes from the Court of Common Pleas to a new court altogether—the Superior Court. This is a much more difficult appeal to take because it requires showing to a higher court that the judge actually made an abuse of discretion. The judge is given an incredible amount of latitude in making his or her decision and usually is not overturned by appellate courts. Appellate courts (that is, the courts that hear appeals) tend to side with the decision of the judge below unless very good grounds for reversal can be demonstrated.

Reasons to Bring an Appeal

There are a number of reasons to bring an appeal. One is when the decision is a violation of the law. This is where a judge intentionally misapplies factors and disregards important evidence, or otherwise makes a bad decision that is based on the law. In such cases, there may be a strong appeal. The second way that an appeal can be brought is where the judge made a bad ruling at trial. Grounds for a redetermination on appeal can include:

  • Considering evidence that is illegal,
  • Not considering evidence that they are required to,
  • Disallowing an expert, or
  • Allowing testimony that was not legal.

Third, and finally, a decision can be appealed on the basis that what was done is not in the best interest of the child. Where there has been an abuse of the court’s discretion, and where the judge’s decision is one that cannot be supported by the evidence, as viewed by a rational fact finder, an appellate court may consider reversing a decision by the trial court.

In all these cases, appeals are difficult to win. It is important to get a good outcome in the custody trial in the first place. If you have lost trial and want to appeal, call the attorneys at Cornerstone Law Firm so we can discuss how to appeal your custody decision.

Making Your Band into a Brand: Does Your Band Need an LLC?

While it’s not strictly necessary, an LLC can help your band. Whether you’re rocking out with your audience in a packed concert or recording a new song in a quiet studio, there are certain risks and responsibilities your band may encounter. An LLC can help to limit those risks and protect the interests of your band and its members.

What is an LLC?

A Limited Liability Company (LLC) is a company that can be essentially anything you want. Once established, the LLC can operate as a full legal entity separate from any members, owners, and employees. You can think of it like a person. In much the same way that you are a legal person when you’re born and given a social security number, an LLC becomes a legal “person” when it’s made.

What does this mean for your band?

As a legal entity, an LLC can do everything a person can do: make contracts, own intellectual property, sue and be sued. All of these can be helpful benefits for your band.

Contracts

With the ability to make contracts under its name, the LLC will be the party responsible for executing the contract. You may sign the contract under the authority of the LLC, but you will not be personally responsible. This means if you cannot pay or otherwise perform under the contract, the LLC is responsible instead of you. Others may sue the LLC for breach of contract. Even if they sue the LLC and take all of its property, they can’t come after your personal property. Only in very rare and egregious circumstances will they pierce through the LLC to reach you.

Intellectual Property

LLCs can also help to keep your intellectual property organized. You can set it up so that the LLC (and not the individual members) owns all the copyrights to your music. This will make it easier to share profits and reduce friction between band members over who owns the copyright and who receives the royalties.

Dissolving the LLC

If your band ever breaks up, you can dissolve the LLC. The law provides automatic and simple processes for the dissolution of an LLC and the distribution of any remaining assets. This can help you avoid conflicts between band members.

Other Benefits to LLCs

Clarifying Expectations

Like we said before, an LLC can be essentially anything you want it to be. You create it by filing articles of organization and creating a legal contract called an operating agreement. You can do whatever you want within this operating agreement. One benefit is that you can assign individual band members, managers, agents, and other people specified roles, responsibilities, and benefits. This can help to clarify expectations and let everyone know what to do. And, in the event that someone can’t or won’t live up to those expectations, the operating agreement can provide a remedy for you.

Fiduciary Duties

LLCs create what lawyers call “fiduciary duties.” Fiduciary duties exist between the members of the LLC, and between the members as a whole and their employees, managers, and officers. This means that everyone must act with:

  1. A duty of loyalty—They will not exploit the LLC and its members for personal benefit or for the benefit of a third party.
  2. A duty of care—They must do their best in good faith to advance the interests of the LLC as a whole.

Let’s say a manager becomes a member and starts to exploit the LLC for the record label’s interest. That person has breached their fiduciary duty and can be sued and expelled from the LLC. They must then return any assets they took and provide compensation for any damage they have done.

Better Credit Options

Because LLCs can form contracts, they can have credit scores. This can be helpful, especially if your own credit score is not so good. If you wanted to, say, lease equipment, you may not be able to do so under your own name. The LLC can have better credit than you or any of the other band members. Many businesses actually prefer to give financing to business entities rather than individuals.

Tax Benefits

Finally, there are tax benefits for LLCs. As a business, you can “write off” the costs of doing business, the depreciation of instruments and other equipment, and possibly even the costs of promoting and advertising yourself (though this may vary). You would not be able to do this as an individual when filing your taxes, unless you can honestly claim you’re fully self-employed as a member of the band.

Also, the LLC—just like a person—pays its own taxes. If the LLC makes money, it pays corporate taxes. You only pay whatever income comes through the LLC to you as part of your income taxes. This means you can “hold” money within the LLC and wait to distribute it to yourselves until the right time (like when taxes are lower).

Call Cornerstone Law Firm for help.

As you can see, there are lots of great benefits to forming an LLC for your band. If you’d like to set up an LLC, call Cornerstone Law Firm. Our attorneys have experience with drafting operating agreements and other organizational documents for lots of LLCs. We can help with yours too. Give us a call today to set up a consultation!

Do I have to list all my creditors when I file for bankruptcy?

When filing for bankruptcy, a consumer is required to list all their creditors in their bankruptcy petition and schedules. This includes creditors for secured debts, such as a mortgage or car loan, and unsecured debts, such as credit card debt or medical bills. Failing to list a creditor can have serious consequences, including having the debt excluded from the bankruptcy discharge and, therefore, collectible by the creditor after the bankruptcy.

Creditors whose debts are not dischargeable must also be listed on the bankruptcy petition and schedules such as student loans, child support, and alimony.

Creditors must also be listed even in cases where a consumer may wish to continue making payments on a debt outside of the bankruptcy case, such as a filer wishing to keep their car and continue making payments on the car loan. The same is true if a consumer wishes to pay back an otherwise dischargeable debt after the bankruptcy case is discharged, such as voluntarily paying back a loan from a family member or friend.

It is important to note that if a creditor is excluded from the bankruptcy petition, the consumer may still be responsible for repaying the debt. Excluding a creditor from the bankruptcy petition does not discharge the debt, and the creditor may still be able to collect the debt outside of the bankruptcy case.

In summary, a consumer is required to list all their creditors in their bankruptcy petition. If a consumer excludes a creditor from the bankruptcy petition, they may still be responsible for repaying the debt outside of the bankruptcy case.

It is vital to consult with an experienced bankruptcy attorney about your specific situation. If you’re facing debts that you cannot pay and wish to consult an attorney about your options, call Cornerstone Law Firm and speak with one of our attorneys about how your debt should be handled.

Can filing for bankruptcy disrupt my social security benefits?

Because of bankruptcy’s reputation, it’s normal to have questions about filing. When it comes to your social security benefits, you don’t have to worry. Individuals who file for bankruptcy are typically able to keep their social security benefits. You may be able to use them to pay living expenses while going through the bankruptcy process, and after receiving a bankruptcy discharge.

Under the Social Security Act, social security benefits are protected from garnishment and other legal proceedings, including bankruptcy. This means that social security benefits cannot be used to pay off debts that are dischargeable in bankruptcy, such as credit card debt or medical bills.

However, there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, if you owe a debt to the Federal government, such as a student loan or tax debt, a portion of your social security benefits may be used to pay toward the debt.

Additionally, it is important to note that the amount of social security benefits that you are eligible to receive may be impacted by filing for bankruptcy. In some cases, individuals who have a large amount of debt discharged in bankruptcy may see an increase in their social security benefits. This is because the debt that is discharged in bankruptcy may have been counted against their income for purposes of determining their eligibility for social security benefits.

In summary:

  • Filing for bankruptcy does not typically have a direct impact on your social security benefits.
  • Social security benefits are protected from garnishment and other legal proceedings, including bankruptcy.
  • Social security benefits cannot be used to pay off debts that are dischargeable in bankruptcy.
  • There are limited exceptions for debts owed to the Federal government.

If you are considering filing for bankruptcy and are receiving social security benefits, you should consult with an experienced bankruptcy attorney to understand your rights and options. At Cornerstone Law Firm, our attorneys can help you determine the best path forward for you given your situation. Call today for your free consultation.

Six Dos and Don’ts when Getting Sued

Knock, knock! The Sheriff shows up at your door and hands you papers. “You’re being sued,” he quietly explains, and perhaps asks you to sign something noting you were served. As you close the door behind you, a number of thoughts may drift through your head. Questions, frustrations and bad ideas abound—but what should you do first? And more importantly, what should you not do first?

(By the way, sheriffs aren’t the only way you can be served, so if you’re not sure if you’ve been sued, call Cornerstone Law Firm to discuss your situation.) For those served, here are six things that you should and shouldn’t do when served with a complaint.

1. DON’T post about it on social media.

The first thing you definitely should not do is post on social media that you have been sued. Do not post about what happened. Do not post about the conflict that you have with the other guy. Don’t post negative things about the company/neighbor/business partner/soon-to-be-ex who filed this frivolous/outrageous/immoral complaint. Anything that you say can be used against you in a court of law—especially on social media.

When you post things publicly it is very difficult to predict how they can come back to get you in the future. It may feel good in the moment to pop off and say something, but the consequences to that decision can be significant. Accordingly, we strongly recommend against making public statements upon being served with a lawsuit.

2. DON’T call the person or lash out at them directly.

In a similar vein, calling the person, Facebooking them, or sending them a message, email or text are all bad ideas. Doing so can only be used against you in a court of law and cannot benefit you in any real way. In addition, doing so will give the adverse party the satisfaction of knowing they have gotten under your skin by suing you. Simply put, it is best to keep your frustrations to yourself when you have been sued.

3. DO begin gathering evidence to bolster your defense.

This one might seem obvious, but when you have been sued, you will need evidence to defend yourself. This means putting together all of the documents, emails, contracts and other papers and information that you have in your possession from the beginning of the conflict until now. If you are not totally sure how the conflict arose, read the complaint carefully and begin looking through your own calendar, matching up dates and times. Begin building a log of what you remember of what happened and when so that when you meet with your lawyer you can provide helpful and substantial information in your defense.

Lawsuits require that both sides be prepared to hand over significant information to the other side or the court when asked. Gathering that information and beginning to think about where relevant data may be stored will make you less stressed when given a short timetable to produce vast amounts of relevant information.

4. DON’T panic (and DO breathe).

Look, we understand. Really, we do. There is almost nothing in life more stressful than being sued. But panicking does not help anything. In fact, as research has shown repeatedly, panic can cause the brain to make very foolish decisions and can impair your ability to do higher level reasoning.

But telling you not to panic may not help you all that much. (“Great, now I’m panicking about panicking.”) So here’s a practical tip: try not to think about what the other side is going to do and what you are going to do in response. At first, it’s important to focus on the next step, which is finding good counsel and preparing your answer.

Lawsuits are a marathon, not a sprint. Try to train for them with that in mind. Just like running a race, you need to breathe and focus on each step, not dream about the finished line.

5. DO read the complaint that was served on you.

It is extremely important that you take the time to read the complaint (this is what the Sheriff handed you at the beginning). Carefully consider what has been said against you by the Plaintiff (the person suing you). Try to think about the situation objectively from all angles. Begin to go through and make handwritten notes on a separate sheet of paper about which allegations are true and which are false.

That’s right, in every complaint there are some allegations against you that will be true, even as simple as the spelling of your name or the fact that you had a contract with someone. What you are denying is what is most important. Sometimes, an answer to a complaint might mean answering 29 out of 30 paragraphs with “Admitted,” but then denying the crucial paragraph that has the fact that is not true. Accordingly, look through the complaint and try to get a good handle on what is true and what is not true. This will help when you meet with your lawyer.

6. DO call a lawyer.

It is absolutely vital when you have been sued that you call an experienced civil litigation attorney. Call someone who has the ability to walk you through the complaint and explain your options about filing preliminary objections or an answer (or a 12b6 motion in Federal Court). Getting an attorney who can walk you through your procedural and strategic options will go a long way to helping you get a better outcome in your case.

Conclusion: Contact Cornerstone Law Firm today if you have been sued.

If you have been sued, it is important to get legal help. Our attorneys at Cornerstone Law Firm, LLC are ready and able to help you. Call us today for a consultation so that we can walk through your case and understand your situation more thoroughly.

What is a bankruptcy creditors meeting?

It sounds a lot worse than it is—a meeting of all your creditors with the chance to ask you questions under oath. A meeting of the creditors, also known as a 341 meeting or a section 341 meeting, is a formal meeting that occurs in the context of a bankruptcy case. It is a hearing where the individual who has filed for bankruptcy, also known as the debtor, must appear in front of a bankruptcy trustee and answer questions under oath about their assets, liabilities, income, and expenses.

The purpose of the meeting of the creditors is for the bankruptcy trustee to ensure that the debtor is eligible for bankruptcy protection and to verify the accuracy of the information provided in the bankruptcy petition. The trustee will ask the debtor questions about their financial situation and may also ask for additional documentation or clarification of certain items listed in the bankruptcy petition. The trustee may also ask questions about any assets that may not be protected in a bankruptcy, such as luxury items, large cash balances, or recent transfers of assets.

You can prepare for the 341 meeting with the help of your bankruptcy attorney, and this meeting does not need to be scary in most cases. Here are some steps that you should take to prepare for the meeting of the creditors:

1. Review the bankruptcy petition.

Before the meeting, the individual should review the bankruptcy petition they filed to ensure that the information provided is accurate and complete. They should be prepared to answer questions about the information in the petition and should bring any necessary documentation to the meeting.

2. Gather supporting documentation.

The individual should gather any necessary documentation, such as pay stubs, bank statements, tax returns, and bills, to support the information in their bankruptcy petition. The trustee may ask to see these documents at the meeting of the creditors.

3. Dress appropriately and be punctual.

There are few things in life that get you as much credibility so easily as being on time and being dressed appropriately. You don’t have to dress in a suit, but try to avoid old or torn clothes. And of course, being 15 minutes early will allow you to relieve some stress as you get adjusted to the setting and speak with your bankruptcy attorney.

4. Be honest.

Your statements at the 341 meeting will be under oath. This means you can get in deep trouble for lying. Penalties could include perjury charges (a criminal offense), dismissal of your bankruptcy petition, monetary sanctions from the Court, and more. Don’t provide false or misleading information, and be honest about everything you’re asked about.

5. Know your rights.

We said up at the top that it’s not as bad as it seems. This meeting is an important step toward bankruptcy relief for a debtor. If you’ve been honest with your bankruptcy attorney, they can set you up for success in the creditors’ meeting. You should be aware of your rights in the bankruptcy process and have attorney representation to challenge questions, object where appropriate, and protect your interests in the process.

Conclusion: Contact Cornerstone Law Firm for a free bankruptcy consultation

The 341 meeting of the creditors is an important part of the bankruptcy process. It is a formal hearing where the individual filing for bankruptcy must answer questions under oath about their financial situation. By being well prepared, you can ensure that the meeting goes smoothly and that you receive the full benefit of the bankruptcy protection.

If you are heading into the bankruptcy process, call Cornerstone Law Firm for a free consultation on your case. Our attorneys can help you determine whether bankruptcy is right for you and also how to defend against claims brought against you in the process.

Can filing for bankruptcy save your home from foreclosure?

Filing for bankruptcy can provide a homeowner with a way to save their home from foreclosure. When a homeowner files for bankruptcy, an automatic stay is put into effect, which temporarily stops most collection actions, including foreclosure proceedings. This gives the homeowner time to catch up on their mortgage payments or to work out a plan to keep their home.

There are two main types of bankruptcy that can help homeowners save their home from foreclosure: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is known as a “liquidation” bankruptcy, which means that the debtor’s non-exempt assets may be sold to pay off creditors. However, some homeowners are able to keep their home in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy if they are current on their mortgage payments and their equity in the home is protected by the homestead exemption.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy is known as a “reorganization” bankruptcy and is designed for individuals with a regular income who are behind on their mortgage payments. Under Chapter 13, the homeowner is able to propose a plan to repay their creditors over a period of three to five years, during which time the automatic stay protects their home from foreclosure. At the end of the repayment period, any remaining unsecured debt is discharged.

It’s important for homeowners to understand that filing for bankruptcy is not a guarantee to save their home from foreclosure. They must continue to make their mortgage payments while the bankruptcy is pending, and they must also meet the requirements of their repayment plan in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

In addition, filing for bankruptcy may have a negative impact on the homeowner’s credit score, but the impact is often less severe than the impact of a foreclosure. Over time, as the homeowner begins to make timely payments and rebuild their credit, the negative impact on their credit score will lessen.

It’s also important for homeowners to work with an experienced bankruptcy attorney who can advise them on the best course of action for their specific financial situation. The attorney can review the homeowner’s financial situation and determine if filing for bankruptcy is the best option to save their home from foreclosure.

At Cornerstone Law Firm, our attorneys help clients navigate the complex world of bankruptcy and foreclosure, and can help you determine whether to reorganize debts, seek a modification, or consider bankruptcy. Call today for a free consultation with one of our attorneys.

Seeking an Amicable Divorce by Working with the Same Attorney

Welcome to Family Law Tip of the Week, a regular series on our blog where we offer tips on how to go through divorce and custody disputes in an amicable way. Divorce should always be a last case resort but if you are going through it, we want to provide some tips on how to survive it.

When you are going through a divorce and you are trying to keep matters amicable, one approach is to seek a single attorney who will moderate the dispute for both of you. Rather than each of you getting an attorney, paying higher fees, and working against each other (and doubling the cost to your marital estate in the process), you can choose one attorney to work with both of you to develop an outcome that is fair and reasonable for both sides. Negotiation will still ensue, but this one attorney represents both of you and will do their best to come up with a solution that makes it work without having to go to court.

This approach is rare for a few reasons. First, if the divorcing spouses do not get along to begin with, having a joint attorney is not likely to fix that problem. Unfortunately, many divorcing spouses find they cannot even have an adult conversation with the person that they are getting divorced from. It is going to be difficult to agree on an attorney and work together with that attorney or take their advice seriously.

Second, if either of the two of you have a protection from abuse order, either mutually or from one person to the other, you will not be able to communicate effectively with your attorney as the attorney will have to avoid being a go between for messages that are not legal.

Third and finally, though legal to proceed together with one attorney, it does, by definition, present a technical conflict of interest. The attorney can’t get the best outcome for either person if he is working to find the best compromise for both. And if the two spouses cannot agree after the attorney’s best efforts have been made, that attorney would be disqualified from representing either party in court on the divorce.

Having said all of this, having a single mediator assist you to work out a divorce can be a powerful cost-saving and stress-reducing measure. A mediator’s goal is to bring you together. An attorney/advocate’s goal is often to push you apart. The costs tend to be lower and having someone invested in finding a way to reach a solution that does not involve the two of you going to court will provide an outside force to hopefully resolve it with less fighting and trouble.

Additionally, if you have kids in the mix, having a mediator attorney work out a custody agreement can be a really good approach too. This attorney can help the two of you get home studies, meet with counselors, and do other things that you may have to do through the court process anyway. Reducing stress on your kids in this process is immensely valuable to their well-being and your family’s long-term health.

This is just one of many approaches that we recommend to clients to avoid making litigation more heated than it needs to be. The divorce and custody process is already painful enough to be involved in. If there is a way to reduce that, then we strongly recommend it. If you have questions about this approach or any others, call our family law attorneys at Cornerstone Law Firm today for a consultation.