James R. Skirbunt

As the founder of the Center for Principled Family Advocacy and the co-creator and principal architect of Cooperative Divorce, Jim Skirbunt is a pioneer in introducing and developing alternative processes to litigation in divorce. Jim recognized that, once a decision has been made to end a marriage, the most important question facing the family was "how" the relationship would be terminated. Jim understood that the choice of processes had a significant impact on the non-economic, emotional costs to the family. Providing clients with all of their options is a cornerstone of Jim's practice philosophy. Jim's 37 years of experience enables him to provide clients with sound advice and to obtain consistently desirable outcomes, whether the choice of process is Litigation, Cooperative Divorce, Mediation, or Collaborative Divorce.

Long recognized as a successful divorce trial attorney, Jim is a past president of the Ohio Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. He has represented high profile clients in courtrooms throughout Ohio. Jim's trial and appellate experience includes the following matters: business valuation issues; the tracing of separate property; enforcement of Premarital Agreements; determination of spousal and child support in high income cases; relocation issues; and the determination of whether cohabitation has occurred. Jim is, however, best known for his creativity with respect to settlement structures. This creativity has made him the "go to" lawyer for individuals seeking solutions to complicated problems, whether the issue is financial, or it involves the children of the parties.

"Having ideas is essential in problem solving. Nothing is more frustrating than when parties find themselves in a situation where no one, including their counsel, has an idea as to how to resolve the issue. Getting things done is not always about being tough. It is always about being smart and having ideas." -- Jim Skirbunt

Jim's reputation as a problem solver has resulted in a demand for his services as, both, a Mediator and a Facilitator. Jim is a certified family law Mediator and has successfully mediated difficult matters for parties who appeared to be left with no option other than trial. He also frequently serves as a Facilitator in complex cases, assisting in the management of the process and the negotiations in divorce cases.

Jim has twice been invited to address divorce Judges and Magistrates at the Ohio Judicial College. He has lectured for numerous organizations, including the Ohio Academy of Trial Lawyers, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, and Bar Associations throughout Northeast Ohio. Jim is a contributing author to the book "The Power of the Professional" and an annual guest lecturer at Case Western Reserve University School of Law, teaching interest-based negotiating skills to law students.

Jim is married to his law partner Sharon A. Skirbunt. He is a graduate of the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and Boston College School of Law. In 2011 he was named Lawyer of the Year for Family Law in Cleveland, Ohio by the Woodward and White publication "The Best Lawyers in America," and he has been selected as an "Ohio Super Lawyer" in all editions of the publication. Jim has also been designated as a "Preeminent Attorney" by Martindale-Hubbell.


Mediation Collaborative Divorce Cooperative Divorce Litigation