When two people commit to a life together, they imagine all of the positive things they will share: buying a home, having children, traveling. But every relationship has its challenges and when they become too much to work through, one or both parties may seek an attorney’s help to navigate the complicated issues surrounding a divorce.
There may be no law firm better suited for these matters than Archer, whose vast resources allow for a small-firm feel in a large-firm setting, with personal attention being provided during every phase of a case. “What sets us apart is the fact that we have the ability to handle everything in house, with our own people, maintaining quality control,” says Stephanie Zane, Esq., who, along with Drew Burach, Esq., is among the group of six attorneys in Archer’s Haddonfield Matrimonial and Family Law Department. “We have a real estate department, tax department, corporate department, bankruptcy department—essentially anything you could potentially contemplate family or matrimonial law would touch on, we have resources available to assist,” says Burach.
The family law department, with combined experience of over 120 years, is prepared to handle matters throughout the state of New Jersey including divorce, custody/parenting time, child support, college contribution, alimony, relocation, adoption and domestic violence. The mediation-friendly department is also anchored by two well-respected mediators, former State Bar Association Family Law Section Chairman William J. Thompson, Esq. and the Hon. Marie E. Lihotz, a retired Presiding Judge of the state’s Appellate Court.
Taking the first step of meeting with an attorney to discuss his or her situation is not lost on Zane and Burach. “When you walk in the door, whether you have a domestic violence hearing coming up or you are meeting under confidence to discuss what it means to conclude your marriage, we want to have a conversation. We want to know how we can help,” says Burach.
“There is no cookie-cutter approach here,” adds Zane. “We are able to provide that one-on-one attention covering the litigation process and alternatives to litigation. We realize that the process can be overwhelming. It’s our goal to instill compassion and confidence from the very first meeting so that a level of trust is immediately established and some of the fear can be alleviated.”
One alternative to the costly and emotional process of traditional litigation is mediation. Mediation is the prime avenue for avoiding litigation, where both parties come to the table ready to compromise for the good of the whole. If children are involved, mediation can also allow parents to control the destiny of custody and parenting time, as opposed to a court deciding those issues.
Zane says, “Mediation is often seen as the kinder, gentler, less expensive way to get divorced when two people are willing to trust each other—a piece that is sometimes difficult when the parties are divorcing. However, parties committed to the process and the guidance of a skilled mediator should result in an agreement.”
According to William J. Thompson, Esq., a shareholder at Archer & Greiner in Haddonfield, “Mediation aids the parties in directly working through the issues in a less formal setting, but requires open communication, candor and a willingness to compromise. Arbitration, although more formal than mediation, nevertheless allows the parties to streamline the fact-finder’s role allowing a quicker result than a court trial.”
“Most important is choosing the right mediator: someone who is professional, patient, a good communicator and experienced in matrimonial matters,” says Archer’s Marie E. Lihotz, a former member of New Jersey’s judiciary. “The parties must develop trust with the mediator so they candidly discuss needs and concerns in settling their case,” Lihotz adds.
If a settlement cannot be reached, attorneys at Archer are prepared for court. “If that is the route that needs to be traveled down, then we will focus on preparation and being ready to head to trial,” says Burach.
Trial preparation is significant, and the Archer attorneys make sure the client is making an informed decision. “We do not have a crystal ball when it comes to the outcome, and sometimes the likely outcome may not be what a client wants to hear. But it is our obligation to make sure that informed decisions are made by every client we represent,” Zane says.
Clients must be pleased with their outcomes though, because Burach says a significant amount of referrals come from current and former clients. “It gives us a real sense of pride to know our work stands out and that clients felt confident to recommend us to their family or friends,” he says.
Zane takes it one step further, adding, “The biggest compliment is when you finish a case and get a referral from the opposing side. Handling matters in a professional, respectful way while zealously representing our client’s interest is the cornerstone of our department. Referrals are a recognition of a job well done while dealing with very sensitive issues.”
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Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Family Magazine, Volume 10, Issue 10.
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