Krista A. Stallard
Stallard & Bellof, PLLC
When I decided to go to law school after working in corporate America for 11 years, my primary motivation was to enter a field where I could work with people one on one and make a positive impact in their lives. After graduating from law school, I spent four years working at a small firm in Matthews where I had the opportunity to learn the ropes from an accomplished litigator and assist hundreds of families with their legal issues. I enjoyed helping my clients through their custody, support, and property division issues. However, I also came to realize that the adversarial system approaches most issues as a zero sum game: one party’s win is the other party’s loss.
As much as I believe in the adversarial system – two sides each presenting their best evidence and the most compelling side prevailing – I don’t believe that this method always resolves a family law case in the most ideal, durable way. In addition, the adversarial system by definition pits parties against each other. In family law cases, these parties have spent years building the most emotional connections humanly possible. In many cases, they must remain in close contact with each other for years if not decades to come due to common children and financial obligations. The simple dissolution of the legal relationship can’t extinguish that familial bond. However, the parties often emerge from adversarial proceedings even more distrustful, acrimonious, and resentful than they were when they started.
I was drawn to the collaborative process because its practitioners recognize that domestic issues are unique and sometimes ill-fitted to the traditional adversarial system. Ending a relationship is never easy, but a collaborative team can encourage a respectful, transparent, and productive process. I believe that helping my clients work through perhaps the most important and stressful situation of their lives in a collaborative way will result in a more meaningful, long lasting solution than would an arrangement ordered by a judge or clawed out in negotiations.