General information on dissolution of marriage

Four Questions to Ask a Collaborative Divorce Lawyer

More and more people are deciding that they want to avoid the traditional adversarial divorce court system and instead handle their family law matter privately and respectfully via the collaborative process.  In collaborative divorce, each spouse receives independent legal advice from his or her own attorney, and the attorneys are retained solely for the purpose of reaching an out-of-court agreement.  Oftentimes, experts will be brought in to help with parenting or financial issues.

collaborative divorce lawyer

As collaborative divorce is becoming more popular and since Florida Governor Rick Scott signed the Collaborative Law Process Act in March 2016, more attorneys who are steeped in the old system of divorce court are now advertising that they offer collaborative services.  The issue is that the skillset needed to successfully help clients reach dignified agreements in collaborative practice is very different than the skillset needed to be an aggressive trial lawyer.

Below are four questions you should ask any attorney you are interviewing to possibly represent you in the collaborative divorce process.

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Need Help Filling Out Florida Family Law Forms?

There are many people facing divorce and other family law issues who have decided that, to the extent possible, they want to represent themselves (in legal parlance, this is known as acting “pro se“).  In recognition of this, the Florida Supreme Court has approved family law forms to streamline the process of representing oneself.


However, even the most savvy among us, if they have not had legal training, can find the task of facing and filling out 100+ pages in forms to be daunting.  So what do you do if you want to proceed pro se and not have to pay for a full-time attorney, but still need some help and advice filling out the Florida Supreme Court-approved Family Law Forms?

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Video: Tampa Real Estate Agent Discusses Collaborative Divorce

Tampa real estate agent Rande Friedman was recently interviewed on the topic of collaborative divorce.  Rande, of White Glove House, has lived in the Tampa Bay area for the past 30 years, and he has been in the real estate industry for around ten years.

Rande is also a member of Next Generation Divorce, one of the nation’s largest interdisciplinary collaborative practice groups with professionals helping families in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Sarasota, and Manatee Counties.  Rande became involved in Next Generation Divorce after he helped a family who used the collaborative process in their divorce.  Rande found them in a better state of mind to agree upon their real estate needs and move on with their lives compared to clients who had litigated their divorce.

You can find a video and partial transcript of Rande Friedman discussing his experience with families transitioning via collaborative divorce after the jump:

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Protecting Your Tampa Bay Business With A Prenuptial Agreement

Under Florida divorce law, businesses are subject to equitable distribution.  This essentially means that it can be considered a marital asset that is divided as part of the resolution of all divorce-related issues.

Small-business owners, who have shed blood, sweat, and tears for their endeavor, find it surprising and frightening that a business might be divided in divorce.  Further, this can be disruptive to the spouse of the small business owner; if the business begins failing due to protracted fighting or litigation, the spouse’s ability to receive alimony or child support is greatly reduced.

Protecting Your Small Business

One way to protect a business from the fallout of divorce is to enter into a prenuptial agreement or, if you are already married, into a postnuptial agreement.

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What Is The Least Expensive Way To Divorce In Tampa Bay?

You have probably heard of divorce horror stories where couples have suffered for years entrenched in court battles and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars or more.  Fortunately, this is more the exception  than the rule, but still, divorce usually is not cheap.  It is a process, and there are raw emotions involved, but there are methods that can cost more or less.

So what is the least expensive way to divorce?

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Jewish Prenuptial Agreements for Mutual Respect

In Judaism, like in many religions, marriage is not only a union between two partners, but it is the intertwining of two souls.  However, according to Chabad.org, just as G-d prescribes a way to fuse two souls, G-d has also provided detailed instructions on how the souls can be reverted to the state of independence.

A divorce in Jewish law is formalized by a get, which is a dated and witnessed document within which the husband states his unqualified intention to divorce his wife.  If a husband does not provide his wife with a get, then the couple is not considered divorce, and so the wife cannot get remarried.

According to ITIM, an organization that helps people navigate the religious authorities’ bureaucracy in Israel, “Unfortunately, the get has become a tool for expressing anger and revenge and is a weapon in the hands of the one member of the couple who refuses to grant or receive the get and locks in (‘anchors’) the other party.  Such anchoring is especially problematic for a woman since it prevents her remarriage.”

To prevent the problems that come with a man refusing to provide his wife with a get, in May 2006, the Rabbinical Council of America reiterated a previous resolution that “no rabbi should officiate at a wedding where a proper prenuptial agreement on get has not been executed.”  Further, as a deterrent to get-refusal, the International Young Israel Movement, Council of Young Israel Rabbis in Israel, and the Beth Din of America suggest the use of a Prenuptial Agreement for Mutual Respect.

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Video: The Collaborative Way to Divorce with Stu Webb & Ron Ousky

Stu Webb is the founder of collaborative law, also referred to as collaborative divorce.  And sometimes, it is refreshing to listen to his view of the process:  “Collaborative law is different in that it is a method in a divorce situation to get an agreement…by working with two lawyers all in the context of not going to court…There is a commitment on the part of the lawyers that they will not go to court.”  Stu made these statements in a video entitled “The Collaborative Way to Divorce,” which demonstrates what a collaborative divorce can look like, with commentary.

Joining Stu is Ron Ousky, a former president of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals.  “What I ask clients [who are going through collaborative divorce] to think about is, ‘What is going to matter to you 20 years from now when you look back?  What are the things that you are going to care about,'” asks Ron.  “And usually they will say things like, ‘I want my children to be healthy.  I want to be able to get through this emotionally.  I want to get through this financially.’  Sometimes they’ll say, ‘I want to make sure my spouse gets through it right.  I want to make sure sure we end this with some dignity.’  Often when you get clients to focus on goals, you’ll find that they have shared goals, common goals.  They probably have more in common than they differ on.”

 

You can find the video after the jump.

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Collaborative Divorce and Small Businesses

Divorce is one of life’s most difficult tests.  The stress that the traditional adversarial litigation divorce can have on employees cost business owners countless dollars every year.  Further, a private business is seen by Florida law as a potential marital asset, to be divided in divorce just like 401(k)’s, jewelry, or furniture.  When a business is put in the spotlight of a traditional courtroom divorce, Florida’s sunshine laws dictate that the remains of the business can be picked apart in detail by competitors sifting through a public court file.

Small Business & Collaborative Divorce Graphic

Collaborative family law (also known as collaborative divorce), by contrast, is non-adversarial.  The spouses’ attorneys are not seen as “opposing counsel,” but rather as teammates.  The clients themselves are not seen as “opposing parties,” but rather as co-parents or simply people looking to transition to the next stage of their lives.

Collaborative attorneys can only help the spouses reach an out-of-court settlement, so no time, money, or energy is spent on opposition research, dirty litigation tactics, or preparing for a costly trial.  This greatly reduces the stress on spouses and mitigates productivity losses.

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Veterans, Divorce, and Honor

As we memorialize those who died while serving in the armed forces, we also thank the living men and women who protected our freedom.

According to Florida’s Department of Veterans’ Affairs, there are more than 1.5 million veterans living in the state.  And, unfortunately, just like the rest of the population, many of those who served in the military face a dissolution of their marriage.  Yet, many veterans do not know that there is a way they can go through divorce which is private, respectful, and, yes, even honorable.

Hugging the kids

Any veteran going through divorce should learn about the collaborative process.

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Video: Child Wants Divorcing Parents to be Friends

When most people go through divorce, they are consumed by their emotions.  No matter how you look at it, divorce is a trauma.  However, people oftentimes forget how the divorce is affecting children.  And they forget that children are keenly aware of how parents treat one another during divorce.

A video that has been going around the internet lately shows a little girl talking to her mom about how she wants her divorcing parents to be friends and treat each other well.  You can find the video after the jump.

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