Alexandria Skinner, Attorney and Mediator
NON ADVERSARIAL FAMILY AND ELDER LAW AND MEDIATION
Welcome to the law and mediation practice of Alexandria Skinner, located at 3924 Forest Drive, Suite #1, Columbia, South Carolina, USA. I use my professional skill and training as an attorney, and additional skill and training as a mediator, to help individuals, couples, and extended families resolve conflict and implement legal solutions for transitions that involve personal changes of circumstance. Most people come to see me for help with transitions involving divorce, marriage (prenups), adoption, guardianship, challenges of caring for an aging parent, estate planning, and for help with legal issues surrounding mental illness, The emphasis in my practice is on managing these transitions in ways that are respectful, non-adversarial, authentic to the parties’ values, and sustainable.
You will find many resources on my site for family and elder law and conflict resolution. If you need more than general information, please call for a consultation. In order for someone to become my client, I have to know something about them and their situation. This requires a personal consultation and creation of a file in my office. I charge $50 per half hour for an initial consultation, either by phone, email, or in person. Use the contact form on the right side of this page, as well as the PayPal link below:
AREAS OF PRACTICE:
FAMILY LAW AND MEDIATION: non-adversarial mediation of divorce settlements, negotiation of legal separation agreements, helping parties agree on parenting plans, filing of court papers seeking approval of uncontested divorce settlements and parenting plans, adoptions, guardianships for children, negotiation and drafting of prenuptial agreements (also known as antenputial agreements), collaborative divorce, uncontested divorce, and contractual legal arrangements between long term partners and never-married parents
ELDER LAW AND MEDIATION: estate planning for middle class families, care planning for elders, planning for disability, estate planning for blended families, legal help for families facing elder care emergencies, adult guardianships, legal issues related to protection of vulnerable adults and people with disabilities, succession planning for closely held family businesses, asset preservation for families facing long term care, durable powers of attorney, health care powers of attorney, advance directives and medical ethics consultations, representation in probate court, guidance for guardians and conservators for vulnerable adults, and assistance when mental commitments are needed
WHAT IS UNIQUE ABOUT THIS PRACTICE?
Continue reading NON ADVERSARIAL FAMILY AND ELDER LAW AND MEDIATION
Imagine that the road to divorce is like getting from one side of New York City (married) to the other side of New York City (divorced). You’re not sure how to get there, so you need some help from someone who does.
Most people just go hire an attorney. This is effective, but it might be a bit like hiring a Sherman Tank and a contingent of marines to guide your way.
Continue reading Divorce Mediation as a NYC Taxi?
Elder law is about more than old age. Elder law is about the planning and care that every person needs in order to be prepared for disability or illness. Disability Planning 101: Regardless of age, each of us must prepare for the worst. “What are some of these needs,” you ask? Every legal jurisdiction is different, and this article is not intended as specific legal advice. Nevertheless, there are some common themes that everyone must think about if they want to ease the stress of some of life’s worst case scenarios.
I highly recommend the book The Power of a Positive No: How to Say No and Still Get to Yes by William Ury. (I’ve linked to the paperback edition on Amazon.) I won’t try to review the whole book right now. I just want to mention one concept that this book highlights that is crucial to negotiation. Namely, the importance of having a workable “Plan B”.
Continue reading What’s Your “Plan B”?
The first thing I’d advise someone seeking a divorce is to consider, “how you will pay for it?” In addition to calculating how to run two households on a budget that has previously been used to run one household, another question relevant to the immediate question of divorce is, “How will you pay the attorney’s fees for the divorce?” Reducing the initial outlay of cost is one significant reason to choose mediation in your divorce case. Continue reading The Price For A Divorce
Whether you are an elder, or the adult child of an elderly person, mediation can help with family stress. Continue reading Elder Mediation
Healthy conflict resolution is crucial to a happy marriage. Negotiation of a prenuptial agreement (also called antenuptial agreement or sometimes just a prenup) provides opportunity for couples not only to decide some substantive issues, but also to discuss how they will resolve conflict when it occurs. By having candid conversations about things that may cause conflict, as well as establishing ground rules for fighting fair, marriages can be strengthened by the inquiry and discussion that goes into the prenup negotiation process.
A prenuptial agreement will cover specific things. Many people have the mistaken impression that a prenuptial agreement is just a way for one spouse to limit the rights of another in the event of divorce. This is a very limited view. Especially when second or later marriages are concerned, a prenup can protect both parties. For instance, if a person is about to marry another person who may have exposure to some liability, the parties can agree on measures to protect the innocent spouse from potential liability. By protecting one party, such an agreement in fact provides a measure of financial safety for both.
On a more personal level, a mediator can assist a young couple in learning to fight fair and in establishing methods for dealing with conflict in advance of need. Mediator and attorney Ken Cloke asks, for example:
- If you were to write a ‘Marital Constitution,’ what would you want to include?
- What would the Preamble say?
- The Bill of Rights?
- How would you like to make decisions regarding different issues?
- What will you want to do or say, and not do or say when you find yourselves in conflict?”
Mediation is an excellent forum for discussion of both substantive issues as well as general conflict resolution issues. Mediators are trained in processes and techniques for resolving conflict. These can be applied pro-actively as ground rules for fighting fair. A foundation of fighting fair then strengthens and contributes to the health of the marriage. Thus, mediation of a prenuptial agreement doesn’t just help the couple agree on property division. It inoculates couples against harmful conflict.
If you are getting married, consider mediation of a prenup. No one is harmed by having one, and it may do a world of good by stopping trouble before it ever gets a chance to start.
While I’m pleased that many people read different meanings into it, the logo of Just Mediation, LLC, was intended to represent two parties and the mediator joined together in three attached rings, and being drawn through the rigid structure in the background.
An estate planning lawyer waited in line to have his car filled with gas just before a long holiday weekend.
The attendant worked quickly, but there were many cars ahead of him in front of the service station. Finally, the attendant motioned him toward a vacant pump.
“Sorry about the delay. It seems as if everyone waits until the last minute to get ready for a long trip.”
The estate planning lawyer chuckled, “I know what you mean. It’s the same in my business.”
Don’t Wait to Plan Your Estate!
You never know when it will be too late.
Dali melting clock
My goal as a divorce professional is to help people make good, informed choices as they navigate the many important decisions they must make during this life transition. An immediate, and important, decision is what kind of process to choose for a divorce. Will the two of you decide to reach a settlement outside of court and pursue an option such as mediation or collaborative divorce, or will you ask a court to make all of these important decisions for you? There are many reasons that it’s better to do it yourselves, if you can.
- Mediation gives you an opportunity to disentangle the the roots rather than asking a court just to cut them away to create two separate plants.
- The process is designed to keep you in control of your own affairs.
- Mediation allows for more flexible arrangements where children are concerned.
What If I Choose Divorce Mediation? (For more in this article, please click here) Continue reading What Is Divorce Mediation And Why Should I Mediate My Divorce?
When a divorce is truly uncontested, then I am happy to take your divorce agreement (if you have one), write it into a separation agreement, and then represent just one party to walk the uncontested divorce through the court process to achieve a final order of divorce. If you think you have an uncontested divorce and just want legal representation to walk it through the court process, please call 803-414-0185 to discuss the process for achieving this in the most cost-effective manner possible. Flat rates for this are available.
In today’s economy, many unhappily married people are seeking the cheapest way possible to get divorced. If you fall in this category, you have come to the right place, but maybe not for the reasons you think. In actuality, an uncontested divorce has the potential to be the most expensive divorce of all.
Uncontested divorce may seem the easiest way out. But, before you seek an uncontested divorce, please answer two questions:
- Do you understand the issues well enough to know for certain that you have reached genuine agreement on every aspect of your divorce settlement and parenting plan?
- If it is uncontested, should it be? Are you giving up important rights or values that you shouldn’t?
If you get the answers to these two questions wrong, then a “cheap” divorce can turn out to be devastatingly expensive in the long run. Mediation with a divorce professional need not be expensive, and it helps ensure that you are entering into divorce with full knowledge of the issues and voluntary agreement on all of them. Continue reading Mediation for an Uncontested Divorce
You are right to be concerned for the effect your divorce will have on your children. There is good news and bad news. First the good news. Children do not have to be traumatized by divorce. While changes in living circumstances can be stressful, what traumatizes children the most is parental conflict. It can actually be a relief to children when parents separate and they are no longer subjected to the stress and anxiety of daily parental conflict. Now for the bad news. Exposure to parental conflict has devastating effects on children. Parents who engage in high conflict litigation and who use their children as pawns in the divorce process do all kinds of emotional damage to their children. Mediation of child custody and parenting plans can stop this damaging conflict. Mediation helps parents get back on the same page as parents.
If you or your children are experiencing the effects of parental conflict, please call me today at 803-414-0185, to see if I can help. Continue reading Mediation of Child Custody and Parenting Plans
If you are looking for a caring and competent divorce, family, and elder mediator in South Carolina, you have come to a good place. My comfortable office in Columbia, SC, is a central and neutral location for clients who come from all over the state — with or without attorneys — for help in reaching divorce separation agreements, parenting and custody plans, elder care plans, and other family issues outside of court. With help of one of our highly qualified, neutral mediators, divorcing couples and families reach voluntary, fair, and amicable settlement agreements. The goal of mediation is to help you reach agreement and to make sure it is done in a fair way that does not leave out or overlook any issues or future challenges. After a complete settlement agreement is reached covering all issues in a manner both parties believe is fair, an attorney is usually hired to manage the very simple process of having it made into an enforceable court order.
But mediation is a relatively new way of settling divorce and family conflict issues. What if one spouse needs more protection? How will you know if an agreement is fair? How can you know if your case is appropriate to settle outside of court, at all? Do you need a divorce attorney to fight for you? These are important concerns. My very first step as a professional divorce guide is to help you gain the knowledge you need to answer all those questions. You cannot know what is needed in your individual situation until you have learned about the benefits and drawbacks of the four main approaches to divorce: litigated divorce, collaborative divorce, mediated divorce, and uncontested divorce. Therefore, my first role will be to assist you in learning about your divorce options and then to help you decide what options might work best in your circumstances. Continue reading What is the Best Divorce Process for You?
The purpose of this post is to answer the question, “What is a mediator?” A mediator is a trusted, neutral person who facilitates a process designed to empower parties to recognize find their own, satisfactory solutions to intractable conflict. Each word in the sentence above has important meaning.
Continue reading What Is A Mediator?
It is said that holding a grudge is like eating poison and then expecting the other person to die. As we all know from experience, it’s very easy to hold grudges. Yet, we know there are very damaging consequences to our entire being when we fail to forgive. There are mental consequences, emotional consequences, and physical consequences. Conversely, perhaps the opposite is also true. The spiritual journey to forgiveness is steep and rocky and challenging. Yet, when we reach the summit of the path to forgiveness, the view is spectacular. This blog post is about the journey. Continue reading The Link Between Forgiveness and Peace