Tampa Courts Crack Down on Frivolous Litigation

On June 5, 2017, the Honorable Ronald N. Ficarrotta, Chief Judge of the Thirteenth Circuit in and for Hillsborough County (which includes Tampa), entered an administrative order seeking to sanction and crack down on frivolous litigation.

Frivolous Litigation

Litigation is how divorce has traditionally been handled.  In litigation, husbands are pitted against wives.  Mothers are pitted against fathers.  Further, each makes arguments to make him or herself look good and the other look bad.  As you can imagine, this way of handling divorce can get out of hand, and children are usually stuck in the middle.

New Administrative Order on Frivolous Litigation

Here is what the administrative order says about frivolous litigation:

Access to Florida state courts is a right enjoyed by all persons under Article V, section 21 of the Florida Constitution, regardless of legal representation. When a person abuses his or her right to access to the courts however, the courts have an obligation to balance the litigant’s right of access and the need of the courts to prevent repetitious and frivolous filings.

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SB 590: New Florida Law on Child Support and Parenting Plans

On June 15, 2017, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed Senate Bill 590 (“SB 590”) into law.  SB 590 directs the Department of Revenue to provide parents with a proposed Standard Parenting Time Plan in Title IV-D child support cases.  The bill also authorizes the Department of Revenue to establish agreed-upon parenting plans.  Further, SB 590 waives court costs for families in a Title IV-D case who cannot agree on a parenting plan and are asking the courts to establish a plan.

Title IV-D Cases

Title IV-D of the Social Security Act requires each state to set up an administrative mechanism for establishing and enforcing child support orders.  Florida tasks the Department of Revenue with these administrative duties.

The Department of Revenue oftentimes steps in to establish child support when a parent seeks welfare or other government benefits.  The idea is that it is the duty of both parents to financially support a child.  Further, a parent should utilize child support from the other parent before the government provides state benefits.

The Department of Revenue may also administratively enforce a child support order created by the courts.

SB 590 Standard Parenting Time Plans

Prior to SB 590, the Department of Revenue did not have authority to establish parenting plans.  However, when the law goes into effect, the Department will be required in most cases to send a proposed Standard Parenting Time Plan to the parents.

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Video: Collaborative Divorce Explained

Are you looking for a way to divorce without war?  Collaborative divorce is a peaceful and private alternative to the traditional divorce court battles that tear apart families and bank accounts.

Collaborative divorce is recognized by therapists, accountants, and lawyers here in Tampa Bay as a more humane way to move on with your life.  This brief video explains in simple terms the collaborative divorce process:

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Collaborative Law Rules at Florida Supreme Court

Collaborative Law Rules Approved by Florida Supreme Court

On May 18, 2017, the Florida Supreme Court published an opinion approving collaborative law rules.  The collaborative law rules are the last step necessary before Florida’s Collaborative Law Process Act goes into effect.

The opinion approves Rule Regulating the Florida Bar 4-1.19 and Florida Family Law Rule of Procedure 12.745.

Rule Regulating the Florida Bar 4-1.19

Florida Bar Rule 4-1.19 is a rule of professional conduct.  It creates certain obligations of attorneys representing clients within the collaborative process.  Among other things, the rule requires collaborative lawyers to do the following when contemplating collaborative practice with a client:

  • Provide sufficient information about the benefits and risks of the collaborative process;
  • Explain alternatives to the collaborative process, including litigation and mediation;

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Collaborative Divorce in Tampa Bay

What Is Next Generation Divorce?

If you have done internet searches for collaborative divorce in Tampa Bay or Greater Sarasota, you have likely come across the website for Next Generation Divorce (you can find the link here).  Next Generation Divorce has many members who are family law attorneys, but it is not a law firm.  It has members who are psychologists, licensed mental health counselors, marriage and family therapists, and social workers, but it is not a therapy-related organization.  And it has members who are financial planners and C.P.A.’s, but it is not a financial planning or accounting firm.

Next Generation Divorce

Member of Next Generation Divorce

So what is Next Generation Divorce?

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Statewide Collaborative Conference in Tampa June 2017

The 5th Annual Conference of the Florida Academy of Collaborative Professionals (“FACP”) will take place in Tampa June 9-10th.  The conference is an opportunity meet like-minded professionals from throughout the state, learn cutting edge practices, gain tips for marketing and initial consultations, and learn about the impact of the Collaborative Law Process Act (Part III of Chapter 61, Florida Statutes).

FACP logo horizonatal with Tagline

Additionally, if you are a neutral and serious about improving your skills, there is a pre-conference advanced training on “Leading Clients Through Option-Building” lead by internationally renowned trainers.  This advanced training will take place on June 8.

You can learn more about the conference and register at the following link:  http://www.collaborativepracticeflorida.com/event/5th-annual-florida-academy-collaborative-professionals-conference-tampa/ 

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Collaborative Divorce: Maintaining A Safe Environment

As a collaborative lawyer, it is my obligation to provide a safe environment for my client, the family, and the collaborative team.  This obligation is not only to provide physical safety, but also the safety of the principles of collaborative practice.

Collaborative Divorce Texas (formerly known as the Collaborative Law Institute of Texas), a leading organization in the field of collaborative practice, created Protocols of Practice for Collaborative Lawyers.  Below you will find the Comment to Section 5.06: Safe Environment.

The collaborative lawyer acknowledges that a safe environment necessarily involves the following principles:

1.       Refraining from insistence on acceptance of conditions precedent to entering into the collaborative law process.

2.       Encouraging creative problem-solving and discouraging positional bargaining.

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Cordover Keynotes Panama City Collaborative Meeting

On April 21, 2017, Tampa Bay family attorney Adam B. Cordover provided a keynote address at the annual meeting of the Northwest Florida Collaborative Law Group in Panama City.  Adam spoke on the topic of “Growing Your Collaborative Practice: Doing Well By Doing Good.”

Attorneys, mental health professionals, and financial professionals from Panama City, Tallahassee, and as far away as Pensacola attended the meeting.

Here is a description of the program (And a copy of the flyer here):

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Collaborative Law Featured in Pensacola News Journal

Thanks to the efforts of dedicated family law attorneys, mental health professionals, and financial professionals, collaborative law is spreading throughout Florida, including in Pensacola.

Collaborative law, also referred to as collaborative divorce, collaborative practice, and collaborative process, is a form of private dispute resolution.  In collaborative law, each party is represented by his or her own attorney, and the lawyers are there solely to help the parties reach an agreement.  The concept behind collaborative divorce is that most people want to move on with their lives as quickly and painlessly as possible without messing up their kids.

Pensacola New Journal Features Collaborative Law

The Pensacola News Journal recently ran an article featuring collaborative practice.  You can find excerpts from the article, titled “West Coast Collaborative Law wants to make divorces friendlier,” below:

A group of Panhandle lawyers has started a nonprofit that aims to reduce the cost and emotional turmoil of divorces.

West Florida Collaborative Law has only been in existence for a few months, but Milton lawyer John Susko said the group already has more than a dozen attorneys, as well as financial and mental health professionals, who are helping grow the program.

The idea behind collaborative family law is that instead of spending time and money in courtrooms, couples talk out their divorce through mediation and back-and-forth discussion, Susko said.

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You Already Have A Prenup

Congratulations, you are getting married!  You found the person with whom you want to spend the rest of your life, and now you have a big, bright future ahead!  But now the P-word has come up: Prenup.

You and your fiance may be wondering whether to get a prenuptial agreement, also referred to as a premarital agreement.  It may be that one of you has significantly more assets than the other.  Perhaps there is a family business in play.  Maybe you have children from a prior relationship that you want to protect or you have other estate-planning needs.  Or maybe you just want to plan for all possible contingencies.

Prenup

So if you are considering a premarital agreement, there is something you should keep in mind:  You already have a prenup.

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