Trans Name Change in Tampa Bay

Do you want your legal identity to match who you are?  At Family Diplomacy, we have been a cutting edge law firm serving the needs of LGBT clients.  We can help you apply for a change of your legal name and gender marker to sync with your gender identity.  In sum, we can help you with a trans name change.

Trans Name Change

Though Florida is often behind the times, with name changes the state is pretty liberal.  So long as your civil rights are not suspended, and you are not seeking a change of name for an illegal or ulterior purpose, your petition of change of name can be granted by a circuit court judge.

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High Net Worth Divorce in Tampa Bay

As a professional, executive, politician, sports figure, or otherwise high profile individual in Tampa Bay, you have a bigger incentive than most to keep your high net worth divorce amicable and private.  You do not need your dirty laundry aired in the media, and you want to minimize the amount of financial information in the public court file.  Further, you want to protect your kids from a potential circus environment.

Collaborative Divorce for High Net Worth Divorce in Tampa Bay

High Net Worth Divorce in Tampa Bay

For you, there is collaborative divorce.

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Cordover Letter on Collaborative Divorce Published in Tampa Bay Times

In February, the Tampa Bay Times reported that Charlie Crist, former governor of the State of Florida, filed a petition for divorce in which he stated that he anticipated that he and his wife will go through a “collaborative law process.”  On February 27, 2017, the Tampa Bay Times published a letter written by Family Diplomacy attorney Adam B. Cordover explaining what a collaborative divorce is.

You can find the letter reproduced below:

Crist filed for divorce from wife of 8 years Feb. 25

Collaborative divorce: what it is, how it works

On Feb. 24, U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, R-St. Petersburg, filed for divorce. In his petition, Crist states that he anticipates that he and his wife will go through a “collaborative law process.” What is a collaborative divorce?

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Collaborative Mediation

What is Collaborative Mediation?

If you are getting divorced, you want to move forward as peacefully, quickly, and cost-effectively as possible.  And so you should learn about collaborative mediation.

Mediation

Collaborative mediation is a combination of two forms of private dispute resolution: mediation and collaborative divorce.  In mediation, you meet face-to-face with your spouse along with a neutral mediator (or co-mediators).  The mediator does not decide issues for you.  Rather, the mediator is there to facilitate an agreement between you and your spouse.

What is said during mediation is private and confidential.  This means that statements or offers made in mediation cannot be used against you later in court.  This confidentiality is protected by the Florida Mediation Confidentiality and Privilege Act (Florida Statutes §§ 44.401-44.406).

Though the mediator can help you and your spouse reach an agreement, he or she cannot provide you with legal advice.  The mediator, for example, cannot tell you if you are making a good or bad deal.

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Co-Mediation Divorce Without Lawyers

Can I Divorce Without Lawyers?

Do you want to divorce without lawyers?  Are you and your spouse able to sit down together, but you need some help to figure out what you even need to address?  Are you okay going without legal advice, and you just want to get through the divorce as quickly, painlessly, and cost-effectively as possible?

Well, then, co-mediation can help you divorce without lawyers.

Co-Mediation Divorce Without Lawyers

In co-mediation, you and your spouse sit down face-to-face with two mediators: one with a legal background and one with a child and family dynamics background.

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Collaborative Law Rules at Florida Supreme Court

Collaborative Law Rules Oral Arguments at Florida Supreme Court

On February 9, 2017, the Honorable Laurel M. Lee, Circuit Court Judge of the 13th Judicial Circuit in Hillsborough County and Chair of the Family Law Rules Committee of the Florida Bar Family Law Section, along with collaborative attorney Robert Merlin, Vice Chair of the Committee and a Board Member of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals, stood before the Florida Supreme Court (video) to argue in favor of the adoption of collaborative law rules of procedure and professional conduct.

In 2016, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed into law the Collaborative Law Practice Act, but the Act does not go into effect until the Florida Supreme Court approves rules.  The Act creates a framework for collaborative family law, which is a private form of dispute resolution where attorneys focus solely on helping clients reach an out-of-court agreement.

Judge Lee explained to the Supreme Court Justices that the process is voluntary: “It is entirely a voluntary process by the litigants and families that choose to engage in the collaborative law process.  It can be terminated by either of the parties at any time.”

Judge Laurel Lee at Florida Supreme Court Arguing In Favor of Collaborative Law Rules

Judge Laurel Lee at Florida Supreme Court Arguing In Favor of Collaborative Law Rules

When asked if collaborative practice could help those with modest means, Judge Lee told the Supreme Court justices how she first came to learn about collaborative divorce:

“I first became aware of the collaborative process when a case came to my trial court in which all of the collaborative team – including the attorneys, the mental health professional, and the financial professional – had taken the case pro bono. I know in my circuit there is a group of collaborative professionals who take low cost or reduced fee cases so that parties do have access to this process even if they are not families of great financial means.”

Upon being asked by Justice Ricky Polston what effect collaborative practice has on mediation, Judge Lee replied, “They are not mutually exclusive.  Collaborative is a process that the parties can choose to engage in but does not preclude the use of any other alternative dispute resolution methods.  So [mediation] could certainly remain an option for litigants.”

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Harvard Law Professor David A. Hoffman Explains the Uniform Collaborative Law Act

Video: Harvard Law Professor Explains Uniform Collaborative Law Act

Last year, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed into law the Collaborative Law Process Act.  There are still some steps that need to be taken for the law to go into effect (namely, the Florida Supreme Court will need to establish rules of procedure and rules of professional conduct).  However, the collaborative community celebrated this milestone after a seven year effort by family law attorneys, mental health professionals, and financial professionals.

Uniform Collaborative Law Act

Florida’s Collaborative Law Process Act is based on the Uniform Collaborative Law Act (“UCLA”).  The UCLA is proposed legislation drafted by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws.  The Uniform Law Commission, as it is more commonly known, creates proposed legislation that it hopes states will adopt to bring consistency and clarity to different areas of the law.

Back in 2010, the American Bar Association House of Delegates was considering whether to support the UCLA.  In the video below made in 2009, Harvard Law Professor David A. Hoffman explains the UCLA.  He also advocates for the American Bar Association to support the UCLA.

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Woody Mosten and Peacemaking Practice Trainers

Video: Woody Mosten Addresses Association for Conflict Resolution

Forrest (Woody) Mosten has been on the cutting edge of the law since the 1970s.  He has been a pioneer in the fields of unbundled legal services, mediation, and collaborative practice, and he has also authored the following books on these topics (you can order them here):

  • The Complete Guide to Mediation: The Cutting-Edge Approach to Family Law Practice (2d Edition, ABA, 2015) (with Elizabeth Scully)
  • Collaborative Divorce Handbook: Effectively Helping Divorcing Families Without Going to Court (Jossey-Bass, 2009)
  • The Mediation Career Guide (Jossey-Bass, 2001)
  • Unbundling Legal Services (ABA, 2000)

In 2011, Woody keynoted at the Association of Conflict Resolution.  You can find the video from part of the speech below:

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Divorce: What Happens to My Small Business?

You have worked hard to build your small business in Tampa Bay or Greater Sarasota.  Your dreams and future are intertwined with your company.  But, now, you are facing divorce, and you are worried about how this will affect your small business.  You know there are quite a few issues that you will have to deal with.  Child custody, division of property and debts, and child and spousal support all need to be addressed.

Small Business and Collaborative Divorce

Small Business & Collaborative Divorce

But what happens to your small business?

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Divorce Lessons Learned

Every attorney learns lessons from the divorce cases with which they are involved.  Some attorneys learn lessons that have unintentional, destructive consequences for the family of the client whom they serve.  Other attorneys learn lessons that contribute to a peaceful resolution of disputes.

Divorce Attorneys Learn All Types of Lessons from Their Cases

Attorney Nancy Retsinas on Divorce Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned in Divorce Cases

After 25 years of practice, Washington collaborative divorce attorney Nancy Retsinas shares lessons that she has learned along the way:

  • Many roads lead to resolution — collaboration, mediation, even plain-old cooperation. The courtroom should be the road of last resort.
  • Listen to gain understanding. Only by actively listening — without preconceptions or judgments — am I able to truly understand my client’s needs.
  • Don’t ask for — but also don’t be afraid of — conflict. Everything is figure-out-able.
  • Build rapport. Understanding all perspectives in a dispute results in better, more durable agreements — and almost always keeps people out of court.
  • It is not only possible, [but] it is imperative to treat all people respectfully — especially those you disagree with.
  • The Law” rarely solves “The Problem.”
  • Plan for peacemaking and be prepared for a few the bumps in the road before getting there.
  • Be future-focused. Encourage clients to look forward and not dwell on past hurts or resentments. It’s the only way to true resolution.
  • Clients seek clear legal guidance focused on their underlying interests. Legal advice given in a vacuum is rarely helpful.
  • Honesty above all else.

Lessons for You

The main lessons for spouses to take away from Nancy’s list is that court is rarely the answer for divorcing families.  Rather, respect and cooperation provide spouses the best opportunity to (i) move on with their lives as quickly as possible, (ii) protect their children along the way, and (iii) spend the least amount of money in the divorce process.

If you have questions about collaborative divorce or how we can help you move forward, schedule a meeting with Adam B. Cordover at (813) 443-0615 or fill out our contact form.


Adam B. Cordover focuses exclusively on out-of-court dispute resolution with a focus on collaborative divorce, mediation, direct negotiations, and unbundled legal services.  Adam is a co-author of an upcoming American Bar Association book on collaborative law.