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Tampa Tribune Publishes Cordover Letter on Collaborative Divorce

The March 31, 2016 edition of the Tampa Tribune published a Letter to the Editor penned by Family Diplomacy Managing Attorney Adam B. Cordover on the newly signed Florida Collaborative Law Process Act (“CLPA”).  You can find the Letter to the Editor below:

LETTER OF THE DAY:  TAKING THE FIGHTING OUT OF DIVORCE

Recent bills passed by the Florida Legislature reforming alimony and changing child time-sharing laws have received a lot of attention, but something that has flown under the radar is the passage of the Collaborative Law Process Act (CLPA). Gov. Rick Scott signed the bill on March 24 after a seven-year effort by licensed mental health counselors, marriage and family therapists, psychologists and other family advocates.

 

The CLPA applies to divorce and other family law matters, and it creates a uniform system for the practice of collaborative law (also sometimes referred to as collaborative divorce, collaborative practice or the collaborative process).

The goal of collaborative law is to take the fighting out of divorce. Each spouse retains an attorney for the sole purpose of reaching an out-of-court agreement. Collaborative attorneys are barred from wasting any of the clients’ energy, time or money on opposition research, discovery motions or preparing for trial.

Collaborative law often involves a neutral facilitator with a mental health licensure. This is in recognition of the fact that divorce is not just a legal process, but it is predominately an emotional process. The facilitator helps parents learn to communicate and focus on what is most important to them, such as the health and welfare of their children.

Governor Scott Signs Florida Collaborative Divorce Bill Into Law

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.

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Are Florida Divorce Courts Anti-Dad?

Over the past few years, there has been a movement to overhaul the alimony and child custody laws of Florida and other states.  This is because husbands and fathers have felt like they are under siege in the family law court system.  They have a glimmer of hope that, if only the laws were changed, then maybe they could get the respect and dignity that they deserve when entering a courtroom.

Map of Florida Circuit Courts

So this bring up a fundamental question:  Are Florida’s family law courts anti-father?

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Collaborative Law Process Act Protects Families’ Privacy

Last Friday, the Florida Senate passed its version of HB-967, the Collaborative Law Process Act, priming Florida to become the 14th state to pass a version of the Uniform Collaborative Law Act.

The bill, which was voted on in the Florida Senate by 39-0 after passing the Florida House last month by 117-0, is now enrolled and expected to be signed by the governor.  At the earliest, the Collaborative Law Process Act becomes binding on July 1, 2016.  However, it may take longer, as the bill itself states that it will not go into effect until 30 days after the Florida Supreme Court adopts Rules of Procedure and Rules of Professional Responsibility consistent with the bill.  It is my understanding that proposed rules have been provided or will be provided to the Supreme Court.

[Update: On March 24, 2016, Governor Scott Signed the Collaborative Law Process Act]

The Collaborative Law Process Act, which applies to divorce, paternity, and other family law matters, does several things:

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Collaborative Divorce Books

I recently wrote a blog post for the new website of the Florida Academy of Collaborative Professionals on books about collaborative divorce books.  There are a lot of great books out there, including books geared towards people going through or thinking about divorce.  Below are the books I discussed:

thecollaborativewaytodivorceStuart G. Webb & Ronald D. Ousky, The Collaborative Way to Divorce: The Revolutionary Method That Results in Less Stress, Lower Costs, and Happier Kids – Without Going to Court (Plume 2007).

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Divorce Lawyer Client Review: A Complicated Divorce Goes Collaborative

Recently, I came across a very complicated divorce matter where two women had been battling in the court system for six years, even before the State of Florida recognized their marriage.  One of the women ended up firing her aggressive trial attorney and hiring me because I offered an alternative: collaborative divorce.  Once everyone agreed to stop fighting, we were able to reach an agreement within just a few months’ time.

That client, Pattie, recently wrote a touching review about my paralegal, Jennifer, and I at avvo.com.  You can find the review below.

As I am required to note by the Florida Bar, please understand that every case is different, and you may not receive the same or similar results.

The Law Firm of Adam B. Cordover & Staff are amazing, professional caring people. Please know that I don’t mean for this review to be long or boring, my intent is to shed hope & shine light into your present life from my past experience and situation.

My situation was very complicated from the start being a same sex marriage which for years was not recognized in the State of Florida until January 2015 and two properties involved.

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Video: FACP Collaborative Divorce Roundtable

I recently got together with Dr. Jim Morris, a psychologist from Clearwater, and Ed Sachs, a certified public accountant based out of Miami, for a roundtable discussion on collaborative divorce.  Dr. Morris is co-author of Mindful Co-Parenting: A Child-Friendly Path Through Divorce, and Mr. Sachs is Vice President of the Florida Academy of Collaborative Professionals (“FACP”).

You can find the video of the roundtable discussion, recorded for the FACP, after the jump:

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Florida Academy of Collaborative Professionals

Collaborative practice is a form of private dispute resolution where parties and their attorneys agree that they will focus all of their time, energy, and money on reaching an agreement.  Oftentimes, experts in the realm of accounting, finances, and relationships are brought in to help the parties.

Collaborative practice has mainly been used in the area of divorce and family law as an alternative to public courtroom fights.  What is less well known is that it is also being used in the civil law arena to resolve wills, trusts, and guardianship disputes, insurance and malpractice matters, and business dissolutions.

Florida Academy of Collaborative Professionals

In recognition of the growing role of collaborative practice in civil areas, in 2015 the Collaborative Family Law Council of Florida, a statewide umbrella group with over 450 members, changed its name to the Florida Academy of Collaborative Professionals (“FACP”).  The FACP also recently unveiled its newly redesigned website, which is accessible at http://www.collaborativepracticeflorida.com/.

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2016 Collaborative Law Process Act Making Progress in Florida Legislature

Senate Bill 972, the “Collaborative Law Process Act,” is making its way through the Florida Senate and will hopefully become law this summer.

[UPDATE 2: Governor Scott signed the Collaborative Law Process Act on 3/24/16]

[UPDATE: The Collaborative Law Process Act Passed the Florida Legislature on 3/4/16.  Learn more about it in the following Article: Collaborative Law Process Act Protects Families’ Privacy]

The Collaborative Law Process Act creates a legal framework for families to resolve disputes outside of court.  The bill specifies that family law matters under chapters 61 or 742 of the Florida Statutes may be resolved via the collaborative process.  These family law matters include the following:

  • Divorce;
  • Alimony and child support;
  • Marital property and debt distribution;
  • Child custody and visitation (also known as time-sharing and parental responsibility);
  • Parental relocation with a child;
  • Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements; and
  • Paternity.

Families in Tampa Bay, Greater Sarasota, and throughout the state of Florida are already utilizing the collaborative process to resolve divorce and other matters privately and respectfully, but a big improvement with this bill is that there will be a statutory framework to ensure discussions had in the collaborative process can be enforced as confidential.   Read more

Family Diplomacy Proud Sponsor of WUSF / NPR

Family Diplomacy: A Collaborative Law Firm is now a proud sponsor of WUSF, Tampa Bay’s local National Public Radio (“NPR”) partner.

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You may periodically hear on NPR that “Family Diplomacy: A Collaborative Law Firm reminds you that divorce need not be destructive.  More information about collaborative divorce can be found at (813) 443-0615 or FamilyDiplomacy.com.”

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