At Cheryl Watson Smith, P.C. we assist clients through all stages of their family's restructuring from learning about family divorce law, gathering financial information, separation, divorce, property divisions, support and parenting plans through respectful, out-of-court, problem-solving options such as Collaborative Divorce, negotiated settlements and family mediation.
We value empowering clients with information and support to work with their spouse and their spouse's counsel to make decisions for themselves and their family. Therefore, I do not accept contested litigation cases.
Contact us at 540-265-9022 for a consultation to explore the pros and cons of each problem-solving process and determine which works best for you and your family.
Family Law & Collaborative Divorce
My Family Law practice focuses on assisting clients to resolve their family law issues of Separation, Divorce, Property Divisions (including complex housing, business, and retirement issues), Child Support, Spousal Support, Custody, Visitation, Parenting and Co-Parenting plans without resorting to court battles. Through Collaborative Divorce, Negotiated Settlements, Family Mediation, and Collaborative Mediation, clients choose to focus their time, money, and emotions on reaching acceptable resolutions.
Collaborative Divorce is a commitment to:
- No court or threats of court
- Honest exchange of information
- A solution based on the highest priorities of both parties and their family
Collaborative Divorce is a voluntary, out-of-court problem-solving process in which the parties and their attorneys meet face-to-face in a series of meetings to gather and exchange information and ideas to resolve their family's disputes.
It starts when each party:
- Agrees to participate in the Collaborative Process
- Hires their own Collaborative attorney as a settlement agent only and
- Signs a Collaborative Participation Agreement.
The Collaborative Participation Agreement is a contract between spouses committing in writing to:
- no court
- being respectful
- providing full disclosure and transparency
- making decisions that take into account the interests, goals, and needs of each other and everyone in the family.
attorneys’ disqualification if case terminates
The Collaborative Team supports the clients through the emotional and financial aspects of divorce with:
- the Process Coaches help clients manage the distrust, lack of communication, and emotional challenges of going through a divorce, so they may make rational, instead of emotional, decisions.
- the Neutral Financial Specialist helps gather and educate clients and attorneys about the property, debts, income and expenses, and projects the long-term financial impact of settlement options on each party.
- the Child Specialist brings the voice of the children to Process to help the parents and coaches develop a shared and lasting parenting plan without involving the children in the dispute.
The Collaborative Team supports the clients' decisions and commitments to reach a resolution that is acceptable to everyone in their family.
My Family Law practice includes working with one party to negotiate and draft Pre-martial Agreements, comprehensive Separation & Property Settlement Agreements, and Shared Parenting Plans. We file no-fault divorces and Consent Orders. We work with party’s whose spouses may or may not have legal representation. (In Virginia, one attorney may only represent one party in a divorce.)
Negotiated Settlements are an option when:
- The issues are fairly straight forward.
- Both parties are emotionally ready to seek an out-of-court resolution.
- Financial information is known or readily available.
- Both parties are willing to respond to settlement proposals and sign the necessary court documents to obtain a no-fault divorce.
Family Mediation & Collaborative Mediation
My Family Mediation and Collaborative Mediation practices focus on assisting clients to reach an agreement regarding Separation, Divorce, Property Divisions (including complex housing, business, retirement issues), Child Support, Spousal Support, Custody, Visitation, Parenting and Co-Parenting plans.
As a mediator I am not an attorney for either party. My role is a neutral facilitator.
By meeting together with the mediator to hear from each other about what is important; by sharing requested information about their family, property and resources; by identifying issues; and by exploring solutions that work for both parties, the mediator guides and the parties decide how they wish to resolve their family's disputes.
Mediation is a commitment to providing an opportunity for the parties:
- to listen and be heard
- to acknowledge and consider each other's underlying needs and interests
- to make full disclosure of financial information
- to negotiate in good faith
- to reach an agreement acceptable to both parties
In Virginia, the mediation process is voluntary and confidential and the mediator:
- is neutral
- cannot give legal advice to either party, even if a licensed attorney
- cannot file the agreement or divorce orders with the court
Therefore, each party may and should have their own attorney to review any proposed agreements before signing and assist with obtaining the divorce order. In Collaborative Mediation, each party hires a Collaborative attorney and signs a Collaborative Participation Agreement.