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Heidi spent her early career working for several top family law litigators in North Carolina—Joslin Davis, Bill Diehl, and Greg Hatcher. During her time working in firms that specialized in family law litigation, she experienced the time-consuming and expensive process of litigation first hand. She also saw how settlements could be created from some of the most contentious situations, if the lawyers and the parties were committed to the process of settlement. Settling cases in this way is called Collaborative Law practice, and it has found a home within family law practices not just in the U.S. but around the world.
Determined to learn more about Collaborative Law methods, Heidi joined the Mecklenburg Collaborative Family Law Practice Group, Inc. in 2006. This group is now known as the Charlotte Collaborative Divorce Professionals group.
At Risser Law, we want to help your family avoid litigation and find the best possible solution for your particular situation.
1) the parties to share information,
2) the parties work together to find areas of commonality and solutions that will benefit the whole family,
3) the process is usually less expensive and time consuming,
4) the parties dictate the timing, not the courts, and
5) the process is private.
Litigation is not an ideal solution for family law problems, because litigation:
1) discourages open truth-telling,
2) encourages hostility and polarization,
3) is usually costlier and more time consuming and
4) the process is public.
What Our Clients Says
From the initial consultation to the final paperwork, Heidi was professional, knowledgeable, and patient. She explained every part of the process and, patiently, answered every question that I had. Throughout the entire process, she provided the status and explained to me what would be next. I would not hesitate to recommend Heidi to any of my friends that need similar services.
Heidi is so easy to be with and explains everything so clearly. She is thorough and professional and also extremely honest about what she can and can’t do if we agree to go through a collaborative divorce. She was incredibly communicative, always did what she said she was going to do in a timely manner and made what is naturally a very difficult situation that much easier. I didn’t have to worry about anything.
Heidi takes a very personal interest in her clients and gave great advice. Would recommend her to anyone.
Heidi was the best attorney I could imagine in my particular divorce experience. She advised me wisely all along the way with professional guidance but also compassion. I would recommend her to anyone going through a divorce.
Heidi was absolutely terrific through a difficult situation. Heidi was knowledgeable, professional, and understanding. With a high level of communication and direction I got through a divorce with very little added stress from the legal aspect. I highly recommend Heidi, she will not disappoint.
I worked with Heidi for over a year on my divorce. Not only was she patient but she was kind & kept my family in mind during this difficult time. She was very knowledgeable & kept costs to a minimum. Emails were quickly returned & legal jargon made simple. I would not hesitate to use Heidi Risser again for any legal matter.
I consulted with Heidi regarding my steps in resolving upheaval in raising my son with his mother. A great conversation was had and great advice was passed to me. Unfortunately the other side jumped the gun before we could work with Heidi. Heidi, a true professional, referred me to another attorney who was geared better towards the litigation my case was moving toward. I am deeply grateful to her for both her insight and referral. I will definitely use refer Heidi.
Heidi was great with helping to sort out all the details of my case. Once she had a clear understanding of the matter, she was diligent about making certain that my side was the case was heard. She worked hard to make sure we could settle without having to go to court. She is concerned about the person she is representing and making sure she does what’s best for those involved. It was a pleasure working with her.
Heidi Risser was extremely professional and excellent at her profession. She made the whole process easy to understand and helped me get through it.
Heidi did an excellent job with my divorce. She helped me during the process and provided excellent recommendations and feedback that helped me go through this very difficult time. I really appreciate her assistance and I highly recommend her services.
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What People Are Asking
What is Collaborative Divorce?
Collaborative divorce is a process in which divorcing spouses work out an agreement without going to divorce court. The collaborative process involves private, self-scheduled meetings to determine the best solution for the family involve. The collaborative process is different from mediation, because in the collaborative process the parties receive legal advice. A mediator is not permitted to provide legal advice to the parties. The parties have the option to bring in experts to the collaborative divorce team, such as a financial neutral or child specialist, to deal with the specific needs of that family. Instead of the dueling-experts in a court process, the parties jointly pay for this expert advice, and the experts cannot later testify in court. Collaborative divorce tends to be less emotional, expensive and time-consuming than going to court.
Can Collaborative Divorce Work for You?
There are very few situations in which the collaborative process should not be tried, and Ms. Risser believes most couples should try this method before going to court. If a settlement is not reached, the parties can still go to court with different attorneys. The collaborative method involves openly sharing relevant information with the other party. If a person is not willing to share relevant information or if the parties are not able to negotiate in good faith with one another, then the collaborative process would break down and the parties would end up in court. Ms. Risser believes the collaborative process is not a “golden apple” that you have to prove yourself worthy of before receiving the go-ahead to try. In most cases, the collaborative process will provide a better process and an outcome in which both parties buy into the solution, because they helped to craft the solution. In court, a perfect stranger tells the parties what they are going to do, and there is no buy in by the parties. Studies show that for most court-imposed resolutions both parties end up unhappy with the result.
How does the process work?
Both parties hire a collaborative attorney for representation and legal advice. Most collaborative attorneys receive special training in collaborative law methods. Then, the parties and their attorneys sign a collaborative contract. Primarily, the collaborative contract states that the parties and attorneys will work toward an out-of-court settlement, the parties will openly share relevant information, the parties will jointly hire experts to help them (if needed), the parties will negotiate in good faith and if the parties are unable to reach resolution, then both attorneys would withdraw from the case. The collaborative attorneys would not be able to litigate the case in court. If the parties desire to go to court, then they would start with new attorneys. This keeps the collaborative team focused on settlement only.
What is a collaborative team?
The collaborative team begins with the parties and their two attorneys. If the parties and their attorneys decide other professionals are necessary, then other professionals would be hired jointly by the parties. The parties would be entitled to all reports created by the other professionals. The types of professionals a team might include are: real estate appraiser, financial neutral, child specialist, mental health professional or divorce coach. In some cases, a mediator might be brought in to facilitate a settlement. Whether additional experts are added to the team, and which experts are added, depend on the specific needs of the family and the situation. The additional experts usually help to minimize legal fees by doing work in their specific field, which keeps the lawyers from having to do everything.
Is Collaborative Practice Faster?
It usually takes less time to reach a resolution in a collaborative process than in a court-driven process. How fast the process is can depend on the complexity of the situation, and how amenable to settlement the parties are. The collaborative process is not instantaneous, because it does take time to analyze the case, gather the necessary information, generate options for the parties, and have the parties decide on the best option for themselves. The main difference is that the parties and their attorneys drive the process, not the court system. The process can move as fast as the parties and their attorneys are able to go. In every case, Ms. Risser reminds her clients that the clients determine the settlement, not the attorneys. This really is the best part of the collaborative process. No one likes a stranger in a black robe telling them what to do.