Have you had friends or family members who have gone through a War of the Roses divorce? These are divorces where each spouse hires a “pit bull” attorney, they both engage in a scorched earth strategy, and they try to win at all costs, even as both of them tend to lose.
If you do know people who have experienced this, you have probably wondered whether divorce needs to be this way. Is there an alternative? Is there a friendly divorce?
Fortunately, the answer is yes.
More Tampa Bay families are finding that they don’t want to attack, and they don’t want to be attacked, but they simply want to dissolve their marriage in an amicable way. And these families now have an option known as collaborative divorce.
Collaborative divorce is a process where each spouse has his and her own attorney, and the spouses agree that the attorneys will only be used for the purpose of reaching an out-of-court agreement. The attorneys do not engage in opposition research, they do not disparage the other spouse, and they do not try to make the other party look bad. They simply are there to help the spouses come to an agreement that they both can live with.
Attorneys who are retained for the collaborative process take their roles so serious that, if the parties cannot reach an agreement, the collaborative attorneys will resign. Fortunately, only a very small percentage (14-5 percent, according to various studies) of collaborative cases end because the spouses cannot reach an agreement.
When spouses choose the collaborative process, they are not adversaries or “opposing parties.” They are simply parents who are trying to figure out the best way forward for their children. Collaborative attorneys do not see each other as “opposing counsel,” but as teammates who are working together to help the family constructively restructure.
In other words, spouses can engage in a friendly divorce, and their best chance of doing so is via the collaborative divorce process.
Adam B. Cordover is the Immediate Past President of Next Generation Divorce, one of the nation’s largest collaborative practice groups with attorneys, mental health professionals, and financial professionals in the 6th, 12th, and 13th judicial circuits of Florida.