Services - Dana A. Cleaves Associates
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What We Do

The transition through a separation and/or divorce is fraught with potential harmful consequences particularly if minor children are involved.  An adversarial approach to issue resolution all to often results in a protracted, relationship-damaging and expensive process.  Fortunately, the transition can be accomplished in a healthy, non-destructive manner at reasonable cost if the family receives the appropriate guidance and assistance.

We have 35 years experience in assisting families in resolving all the issues that separation and divorce present in an amicable, effective and healthy manner.  The process is tailored to each family’s particular circumstances and preferences but is always focused on protecting the best interests of minor children and the emotional well-being of the divorcing adults.


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The most effective and efficient service for divorcing parties who come to Judge Cleaves immediately upon the decision to separate and/or divorce.

Using a directive form of mediation which employs his family law decision-making experience, Judge Cleaves helps the parties to identify and resolve all the issues that divorce presents in a non-adversarial, amicable manner.  This process usually involves a series of meetings during which the appropriate information is gathered, issues identified and resolved by agreement resulting in a marital settlement agreement drafted by Judge Cleaves.  This agreement is then simply incorporated in a divorce judgment which is presented to the Court and becomes the parties’ Divorce Decree.



Divorcing parties with legal representation can also achieve an amicable, healthy resolution of the issues presented by their legal separation process.
1. Mediation

For divorcing parties who have legal representation Judge Cleaves offers mediation services, usually for a half-day session, to the parties accompanied by their counsel.  This directive mediation format has an exceptionally high rate of success.

2. Private Adjudication

At the request of the parties and their counsel Judge Cleaves will accept appointment as Referee under Rule 53 of the Maine Rules of Civil Procedure.  This procedure takes the case out of the courthouse and gives Judge Cleaves authority to make decisions for the parties if necessary.  The level of formality will be determined in consultation with the parties and counsel but in most instances a mediation format will be employed with Judge Cleaves deciding only  those issues that are not resolved by agreement.  


Frequently the greatest source of stress and expense in divorce proceedings comes from emotionally-charged conflicts involving minor children.

In cases with complex parenting issues Judge Cleaves will assist the parents in evaluating the emotional needs of the children and creating the co-parenting plan that best protects  and meets the needs of the children.  In this process Judge Cleaves may well recommend the involvement of institutional resources like the Kids First Center or individual child therapists.