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    An initial consultation, up to one hour, is FREE for general estate planning, estate administration, probate, GUARDIANSHIP or a family law matter if you bring your completed Questionnaire with attachments and all decision-makers attend; otherwise, we charge by the hour.  An initial consultation for long term care planning with Medicaid &/or VA Pension costs $500.  We charge by the hour, in one-tenth of an hour (6 minute) increments, for all time spent on real estate, corporate and other business matters, or for any advice outside the initial consultation when you have not engaged us under a flat fee agreement.  Any quote we give you for a flat fee is binding if we receive all requested information and are engaged to commence work within 30 days.  We accept Visa and MasterCard but assess a 2% surcharge when doing so.  Please come to any initial consultation prepared to pay the initial consultation charge (for Medicaid/VA, real estate, etc.), and/or one-half of any flat fee, or a retainer for hourly work.

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Collaborative law is an emerging practice area that allows parties to a dispute to come together to resolve the dispute without litigation.  Collaborative law is most commonly used in divorces but can also be used in other situations such as pre-marital agreements and post-divorce decree modifications (regarding custody, visitation, support, etc.).  The people who are the best fit for collaborative law are those who are willing to come together with the opposing side to express their concerns, needs and expectations, and listen with an open mind to the concerns, needs and expectations of the other party, in an effort to try to reach a resolution.  It can avoid substantial attorneys’ fees and it leaves the parties more in control than when a judge is given the final say after litigation.



To resolve a dispute using collaborative law each party must agree to the process and retain an attorney to represent them who is certified in collaborative law.  The parties sign an agreement which lays out the process and describes the parties’ rights and responsibilities.  For example, in a collaborative divorce the parties must disclose to the other spouse all assets, debts and other information relevant to the dissolution of the marriage. There will typically be several private meetings between the client and his or her attorney, then an exchange of information, and then meetings with all parties and attorneys together in an attempt to reach a resolution of the matter.  If an agreement is reached an official order will be drafted. Once the order is signed by all parties the case is filed in court and it follows the statutory requirements for that particular type of case.  For example, if parties are divorcing one will still have to file a divorce action in the circuit court, wait the time required by law, and then present the agreed order to the assigned judge.  A short hearing may still be required depending on the judge to which the case is assigned. There is one very important thing to note about collaborative cases:  If the parties do not reach agreement and one or both parties decide to litigate the case, the attorneys who represented them in the collaborative process cannot represent them in the litigated action.  Each party must retain a new attorney for the litigated matter.



Why would someone choose collaborative law over traditional litigation? The collaborative process can be a lot less stressful.  Instead of being combative, as litigation almost always is, the process can allow the parties to work together to decide their own outcome. The collaborative process allows the parties to create a good foundation to work together in the future.  This is especially helpful in cases where children are involved or the divorcing parties are otherwise likely to remain in close contact (because they live in the same neighborhood or small town, attend the same church, etc.).  If the parties can work together to resolve their disputes and create their own ending it is more likely they will be able to work together in the future if the need arises.


The collaborative process can also be ideal for couples have who a lot of assets.  This allows the parties to focus on coming to an agreement rather than allowing litigation to dwindle down the assets that need to be divided.


In short, the collaborative law process may allow you to file for an uncontested divorce rather than a contested one even though you initially needed legal counsel to advise you as to your respective rights and obligations and help you agree on how to resolve all issues.  It allows you to “horse trade” and keep the focus on what really matters most to you.




Mediation is a process by which parties use a neutral third party (the “mediator”) to try to resolve any dispute between them.  Mediation is different from litigation because there is no judge in mediation; there is no one there to decide the outcome of the case.  Instead the parties work together to resolve their dispute.  Mediation can occur before or after a lawsuit is filed.  Judges have the authority to order parties to participate in mediation but parties can also voluntarily agree to it.



Every mediator has a different process.  But generally speaking the mediator allows each party to state why he is there and what he hopes to achieve; an attorney for each party may be present.  The mediator then facilitates discussion between the parties in an effort to reach a resolution.  Some mediations require what is known as a caucus.  This occurs when the mediator meets privately with each side.  A caucus usually happens to make sure the mediator understands where the party is coming from and what he wants but it can also occur when attempts at reaching an agreement have reached an impasse.


The mediation process does not require the parties to reach a settlement but it does require that they participate in good faith.  However, the process is still owned by the parties and that includes any resolutions that are reached. If an agreement is reached a memorandum reflecting the terms of the agreement is prepared and read; if it is agreed to, it is signed before the parties leave.  If the memorandum cannot be prepared immediately then it is prepared by the mediator and sent to the parties for their approval and signature.  Then if litigation was pending, the agreement can be presented to the court to be made a part of its order (but the factual disclosures and negotiations are still not made public).  If no litigation is pending, the parties may rely on the agreement or they may file it with a court and get an order approving it to give it the finality of a court order.


Why mediation and not litigation?

Mediation has several advantages over litigation in court.  The mediation process often allows the parties to be in charge of how their case ends.  Instead of presenting their case to a judge, the parties work together to reach a resolution that is best for them and best for each person’s case.  The mediation process is also confidential.  Hearings before the court are transcribed and a record is made of the proceedings.  Recording is prohibited in mediation and anything said in mediation is confidential.  Mediators cannot be called to testify about what took place during a mediation.  The mediator’s only report to the judge or court is that a mediation took place and whether the parties reached a settlement.

Mediation can often be less expensive than litigating a matter.

In cases with several issues mediation can allow the parties to reach agreements on some issues while leaving others up to the judge.





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The attorneys of Ball Corley PLLC proudly serve the entire State of Arkansas with respect to:  Estate Planning (wills, trusts, powers of attorney, HIPAA authorizations, living wills and visitation directives); Elder Law (Medicaid, veterans administration pension and long term care planning); Probate; Trust and Estate Administration; Guardianships; Family Law (adoption, divorce and separation, child custody and visitation, support obligations, post-decree modification and paternity); Premarital Agreements; Collaborative Law; Mediation; LGBT Laws; and Real Estate Transactions.

Notice and Disclaimer: This Ball Corley PLLC website is intended only to give general information which we believe may be helpful; it is not intended to be advertising or a solicitation, or to provide legal advice. If our website includes any links to other sites they are for information only and should not be interpreted as an endorsement. Although we try to keep the information on our website current it may not always reflect the latest laws, decisions or dollar amounts. And, the general rules provided may not apply to your specific situation; for every general rule there are multiple exceptions to that rule. Therefore, we strongly recommend that you consult with us or another qualified licensed attorney rather than taking any action in reliance on any information contained in this website. Neither your visit to our website, nor your phone call or email to our office, will create an attorney-client relationship with Ball Corley PLLC or its attorneys; such a relationship can be established only by our written agreement to represent you.

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