On March 24, 2016, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed HB 967, the “Collaborative Law Process Act,” making Florida the 14th state to have Collaborative Divorce codified in its laws.
Collaborative Divorce is a private form of dispute resolution where the parties agree from the outset to settle all matters outside of court. Each party has his or her own attorney, and the attorneys are there solely to help the parties reach an agreement that is tailored for that family. The attorneys are forbidden from engaging in opposition research or preparing for costly trials.
The law is just one component that the spouses consider when developing a collaborative marital settlement agreement. Oftentimes, a facilitator or child specialist with a mental health licensure will help develop a parenting plan that is psychologically and developmentally appropriate for the particular family. Further, a neutral CPA or Financial Planner can help the parties develop a budget for their post-divorce lives and figure how to allocate support, assets, and debts to maximize the spouses’ financial security.
The Collaborative Law Process Act, among other things, creates a “privilege,” similar to an attorney-client or therapist-patient privilege, so that, except under very limited circumstances, the spouses cannot have anything that they say during collaborative negotiations ever used against them in court.
There are still several steps that need to happen before the Collaborative Law Process Act goes into effect. The Florida Supreme Court will need to adopt Rules of Procedure and Rules of Professional Conduct to govern Collaborative Divorce. Proposed Rules have been developed to introduce to the Supreme Court.
If you have questions about the Collaborative Law Process Act or how Collaborative Divorce may be a healthier option for your family, schedule a consultation with Family Diplomacy: A Collaborative Law Firm at (813) 443-0615 or CLICK HERE to fill out our contact form.
Adam B. Cordover is Immediate Past President of Next Generation Divorce, one of the nation’s largest collaborative practice groups. Adam is on the Board of Directors of the Florida Academy of Collaborative Professionals and the Research Committee of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals.