FAMILY LAW MEDIATION IN TAMPA BAY

When most people think of divorce, they have in mind a process where they let a judge decide how property is divided, where the kids sleep at night, and how much financial support is paid. But most families would be better off making these types of life-altering decisions on their own, rather than leave them up to an overworked public official. That is why Family Diplomacy offers private alternatives to litigation, including Collaborative Practice and mediation, which can be used in divorce, paternity, and other family law matters.

A VOLUNTARY DIVORCE AND FAMILY LAW PROCESS

Mediation is a voluntary process where you and your spouse meet with a neutral and impartial professional who helps you reach an agreement. The mediator cannot decide issues or impose a settlement; a binding decision will be reached only if both parties agree on its terms. Further, mediation provides you with the flexibility to agree to terms that a judge would never order to meet the particular needs of your family.

Co-Mediation And Collaborative Mediation

There are many ways to resolve your divorce issues.  The most well-known option is courtroom divorce.  This is where the spouses spend years battling it out, finding ways to undermine one another.  In the end, a judge tells them who gets what property and where the kids sleep at night.  There is also mediation and collaborative divorce, private forms of dispute resolution.  But two less known methods for resolving your divorce are co-mediation and collaborative mediation.

Co-Mediation

Co-mediation is a way for you and your spouse to resolve disputes outside of court with two or more mediators.  Oftentimes, the mediators have different training and skillsets.  In the co-mediation that Family Diplomacy offers, one co-mediator is an attorney by training.  The other is a therapist or accountant by training.  The co-mediators do not provide legal or financial advice, nor do we engage in therapy.  Rather, in a series of face-to-face meetings, we help develop options that meet your legal, financial, and emotional needs.

Collaborative Mediation

In collaborative mediation, you and your spouse each have your own attorneys.  The attorneys can only represent you in private dispute resolution.  Accordingly, the attorneys spend no time, energy, or money on opposition research, preparing for trial, or encouraging you and your spouse to fight.  The collaborative attorneys provide their clients with legal advice so you can make-well informed decisions.  The neutral mediator or co-mediators help facilitate an agreement and keeps the process moving forward.

You and your spouse have the ultimate say in how you want to use your attorneys in collaborative mediation.  The attorneys can be by your side at each mediation meeting.  Alternatively, the attorneys do not attend mediation but instead provide you with advice outside of meetings or only once the mediator(s) draft up an agreement.  Still, another option is for the attorneys to attend some meetings (like ones focused on financial matters), but not other meetings (i.e., parenting plan discussions).

Co-Mediation and Collaborative Mediation

Co-Mediation and Collaborative MediationRachel Moskowitz, a Licensed Mental Health Counselor with whom I frequently co-mediate, recently wrote an article for Commentator Magazine.  The article describes a case study in which we had a co-mediation that turned into a collaborative mediation.  You can find an excerpt of the article below.

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Cordover & Gaies Present on LGBTQ Families & Relationships

On August 11, 2017, psychologist and collaborative facilitator Jeremy Gaies joined collaborative attorney and mediator Adam B. Cordover to present on the topic of “LGBTQ Relationships:  The New Family and Out-of-Court Dispute Resolution.”  Gaies and Cordover facilitated the LGBTQ families workshop at the 25th Annual Conference of Florida’s Dispute Resolution Center.

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Purpose of LGBTQ Families Workshop

The purpose of the workshop was threefold:

  1. Identify specific legal and other considerations for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) individuals and families;
  2. Engage in discussion of various out-of-court options to meet LGBTQ needs; and
  3. Consider new and future legal challenges for LGBTQ clients and the family law community.

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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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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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What Is Co-Mediation?

Many people who are getting divorced want to reach an agreement with their spouse, but they need some help to do so.  Though non-adversarial options such as collaborative practice allow those who need more support to each have their own attorney to provide them advice, not everyone wants to be represented by an attorney.

For those people, co-mediation may be a perfect option.  And Family Diplomacy is proud to be one of the leading firms in Tampa Bay to offer co-mediation services.

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Video: Florida Lawyer on Why She No Longer Litigates

I no longer litigate.  This means that I do not appear in contested court hearings in Tampa or any other area in which I practice.  I have made this decision because I have found that most people who are divorcing do not want to tear down their spouse in court; rather they want to move on with their lives, as peacefully, privately, and quickly as possible.

In the video below, collaborative attorney Enid Miller Ponn Discusses why she no longer litigates:

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Video: Mediators Beyond Borders at United Nations

Mediation is not just for divorce.  It is a form of dispute resolution that is being used to help prevent and mitigate disputes and issues internationally, such as Colombia peacemaking initiatives and efforts to address climate change.

In the video below the jump, Tampa mediator and past president of Mediators Beyond Borders Lynn Cole, Esq., addresses the United Nations about the use of mediation internationally.  This address took place in May 2012.

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Cordover Intern Trainer at Mosten 40-Hour Mediation Training

Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Law Mediator Adam B. Cordover served as an Intern Trainer for Forrest (Woody) Mosten’s 40-Hour Family Law Mediation Training.  The training took place September 13-17, 2016, in Los Angeles, California.

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Woody Mosten has been on the cutting edge of the law for over four decades as a leading figure in legal clinics, unbundled legal services, mediation, and collaborative law.  He literally wrote the book on these subjects, as he is the author or co-author of seminal works in the field, including the Mediation Career Guide, Collaborative Divorce Handbook, the Complete Guide to Mediation, and Unbundling Legal Services.

Further, Woody Mosten and Adam B. Cordover have been tasked by the American Bar Association to write a book on Building A Successful Collaborative Law Practice, which is expected to be published in early 2017.

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Helping Divorce Lawyers Become Peacemakers

I am a collaborative family law attorney.  I help families divorce privately and respectfully so that they can end their marriage but also begin their post-marriage life as peacefully as possible.

I am also a trainer.  I train attorneys, mental health professionals, and financial professionals how to offer collaborative services to divorcing couples and others handling family law matters.

This past weekend I was in Chicago at a master class led by Forrest (Woody) Mosten on how to train in a way that lets divorce attorneys and others know that they can do well by doing good.  Woody is a leading collaborative attorney and mediator, as well as a best-selling author out of Beverly Hills, California.  He also happens to be a friend of mine, a mentor, and my co-author for an upcoming American Bar Association book on Building A Successful Collaborative Law Practice.

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The class, which included 15 hand-selected attorneys and mental health professionals from around the U.S. and Canada, was described by Canadian social worker and media personality Gary Direnfeld as follows:

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