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Video: What Is A Collaborative Child Specialist?

Collaborative family law is a process that can be tailored to your family’s specific needs.  In all collaborative cases, issues related to divorce are discussed peacefully and respectfully in private conference rooms rather than confrontationally in public courtrooms.  Each spouse has their own attorney – who focuses exclusively on helping his or her client reach an out-of-court agreement – on whom the spouse can rely to provide advice and guide them throughout.

Oftentimes, experts are brought into the collaborative process so that the clients can reach a comprehensive agreement that deals not only with legal issues, but also emotional and financial resolutions.  Experts end up making the process much more efficient by being able to handle issues far more quickly than attorneys are able to.

One option that families may want to consider is whether to bring in a child specialist.  The short video after the jump, produced by Cypress Collaborative Divorce, discusses the role of the child specialist.

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Unique Forms of Collaborative Law in Tampa Bay

Collaborative practice is not just for divorce.  It is most commonly associated with divorce, but it can be used as a non-adversarial, private form of dispute resolution in many different scenarios.  Further, there are many cases where a divorce does not begin collaboratively, and yet ends up in the collaborative process.

Below are links to posts written by Family Diplomacy managing attorney Adam B. Cordover on unique forms of collaborative practice in Tampa Bay:

A Complicated Divorce Goes Collaborative

http://familydiplomacy.com/blog/family-law-news/client-review-a-complicated-divorce-goes-collaborative/

Do You Need a Divorce Second Opinion?

http://familydiplomacy.com/blog/collaborative-divorce/do-you-need-a-divorce-second-opinion/

Collaborative Law in Medical Malpractice

http://familydiplomacy.com/blog/collaborative-divorce/video-collaborative-law-in-medical-malpractice/

Polyamorous Divorce in Tampa Bay

http://familydiplomacy.com/blog/lgbt-family-law-matters/polyamorous-divorce-in-tampa-bay/

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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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A Low Profile Divorce for High Profile People

We see it in the news and magazines all of the time.  Publicly available divorce documents accuse a celebrity of secretly supporting a child born out of wedlock.  Sports figures’ assets and judgment become public spectacles.  Politicians and their spouses lob accusations at each other for all to see.  Businessmen’s private details and dirty laundry end up as front page stories.

Fortunately, your divorce does not need to be in the public eye.

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Video: Stu Webb’s Collaborative Divorce & Jazz

Stu Webb is an attorney from Minnesota who one day decided that he no longer wanted to be involved in the destruction of divorce court, and so he created collaborative divorce.  Collaborative divorce is a private process where spouses become teammates rather than opposing parties, and attorneys focus on problem-solving rather than fighting.

Oftentimes accountants, psychologists, financial planners, therapists, and others are used to make sure that not just the legal needs, but also the emotional and financial needs of the spouses are met.

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Collaborative Divorce has become more common here in Tampa Bay as families and attorneys realize that the court system should be seen as a forum of last resort, rather than first resort, to resolve personal issues.

Now, as it turns out, Stu Webb is not only the founder of collaborative divorce, but he is also an avid fan of Jazz.  You can find a short video he helped create comparing collaborative divorce to jazz after the jump.

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Research: Collaborative Divorce By The Numbers (2010)

A few years ago, the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals released the results of a survey of 933 collaborative divorce and family law cases.  Collaborative divorce is a process by which parties, instead of going to court to litigate, agree to a private framework that lends itself to developing more creative options for financial, child custody, and other family issues.  In Florida, oftentimes a neutral facilitator/communication coach and a neutral financial professional are engaged to facilitate and lend their expertise to the process.

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The survey was conducted from October  2006 through July 2010, and these results were compiled in the Spring 2012 edition of The Collaborative Review: The Journal of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (“IACP Research Regarding Collaborative Practice (Basic Findings)” by Linda Wray, J.D.):

  • 58% of husbands and 59% of wives were between 40 and 54 years old;
  • Over three-quarters of all clients had a 4-year college education or higher;

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A Former Judge’s Take on the Family Court System

As a Florida family law attorney, I tell clients all the time that – for the sake of their children, finances, and sanity – it is best if divorcing spouses are able to reach an agreement on their own, without leaving important decisions that will affect the rest of their lives up to a judge.  I have found that interdisciplinary collaborative practice is the best way for families to reach a resolution, though other options (such as mediation and direct negotiations) are also almost always better than the court system.

Sue Cochrane, who served as a family law judge in Minnesota, also believes that the current family court system is broken.  Below are excerpts of an article she penned for The Collaborative Review (Winter 2014 / Volume 15, Issue 1):

After eighteen years on the family bench I am sensitive to the needs of the thousands who still show up [to court] due to lack of funds or awareness of other options.  Having Collaborative practitioners and others from diverse disciplines working side-by side with those of us from the courts was, in my opinion, a monumental advancement.

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The law is well-known for being logical and dispassionate.  Courts are where intellect and linear, analytic thinking prevails.  In the admirable pursuit of truth and justice, the courts can inadvertently deny the humanity of the people it is supposed to serve and even of the judges and staff who work there.

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Florida Collaborative Divorce: A Flowchart

Many people come to my Tampa office because they heard collaborative divorce is private, respectful, conducive to co-parenting, and usually quicker than the traditional courtroom divorce.  But they do not quite understand logistically how the collaborative process works.

The first thing to understand is that each party is represented by his or her own attorney whose sole purpose is to help the parties reach a settlement.  The attorneys are contractually barred from engaging in costly, damaging contested court battles.  If parties want to fight one another in the court system, they must choose different litigation attorneys.

A neutral facilitator, who usually is licensed in a mental health profession, is involved in most collaborative cases.  The facilitator not only helps the parties (and attorneys) focus on the future rather than rehash the arguments of the past, but he or she also teaches the parties communication and dispute resolution techniques that will help them and their families long after the divorce is finalized.

A neutral financial professional is also oftentimes used to efficiently ensure financial transparency between the parties, to develop personally-tailored options for support and the division of assets and debts, and to help the clients budget to give them the best chance for financial security once their divorce is finalized.

Some folks are visual learners, and so my firm has created a flowchart that shows how a collaborative case might proceed.  Please understand that, depending on the facts of your case and the needs of your family, your collaborative divorce process may be customized differently:

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