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Collaborative Law Rules at Florida Supreme Court

Collaborative Divorce Attorneys Held To A Higher Standard

Collaborative divorce attorneys have traditionally gone through specialized training that teaches them cutting edge methods in peaceful and private dispute resolution.  As part of this training, we have taken to heart the Florida Supreme Court’s call to provide families facing matrimonial disputes with “therapeutic  justice,” which the Court described as follows:

Collaborative Divorce AttorneysTherapeutic justice is a process that attempts to address the family’s interrelated legal and nonlegal problems to produce a result that improves the family’s functioning. The process should empower families through skills development, assist them to resolve their own disputes, provide access to appropriate services, and offer a variety of dispute resolution forums where the family can resolve problems without additional emotional trauma.

In re Report of the Family Law Steering Committee, 794 So. 2d 518, 522 (Fla. 2001).

Just this past weekend, on July 1, 2017, Rule 4-1.19 of the Rules Regulating the Florida Bar went into effect.  The Rule, concerning the Collaborative Law Process in Family Law, holds collaborative divorce attorneys to a higher standard than divorce lawyers who do not offer collaborative services.  But for those of us who have been practicing this form of therapeutic justice, we have already been meeting these standards up until now on a voluntary basis.

Higher Standards for Collaborative Divorce Attorneys

Unlike traditional divorce lawyers, Rule 4-1.19 requires collaborative attorneys to do the following:

  • Explain to clients that they have choices (such as litigation, mediation, and collaborative law) in how to divorce;

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Video: Financial Planner Recommends Collaborative Divorce

Resolving Disputes Respectfully

Collaborative Practice

For quite some time, attorneys and mental health professionals have been striving to let the public know that there is a better way to dissolve a marriage:  collaborative divorce.  Parents do not need to put their children through the horrors of a courtroom custody battle.  They can enter into the collaborative process and make decisions in a non-adversarial, private environment where they have the support they need.

Now financial planners are also extolling the benefits of the collaborative process.  In the short video below, Justin Reckers, a Certified Financial Planner and CEO of Wellspring Divorce Advisors discusses the collaborative divorce process.

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Tampa Courts Crack Down on Frivolous Litigation

On June 5, 2017, the Honorable Ronald N. Ficarrotta, Chief Judge of the Thirteenth Circuit in and for Hillsborough County (which includes Tampa), entered an administrative order seeking to sanction and crack down on frivolous litigation.

Frivolous Litigation

Litigation is how divorce has traditionally been handled.  In litigation, husbands are pitted against wives.  Mothers are pitted against fathers.  Further, each makes arguments to make him or herself look good and the other look bad.  As you can imagine, this way of handling divorce can get out of hand, and children are usually stuck in the middle.

New Administrative Order on Frivolous Litigation

Here is what the administrative order says about frivolous litigation:

Access to Florida state courts is a right enjoyed by all persons under Article V, section 21 of the Florida Constitution, regardless of legal representation. When a person abuses his or her right to access to the courts however, the courts have an obligation to balance the litigant’s right of access and the need of the courts to prevent repetitious and frivolous filings.

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Video: Collaborative Divorce Explained

Are you looking for a way to divorce without war?  Collaborative divorce is a peaceful and private alternative to the traditional divorce court battles that tear apart families and bank accounts.

Collaborative divorce is recognized by therapists, accountants, and lawyers here in Tampa Bay as a more humane way to move on with your life.  This brief video explains in simple terms the collaborative divorce process:

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Collaborative Law Rules at Florida Supreme Court

Collaborative Law Rules Approved by Florida Supreme Court

On May 18, 2017, the Florida Supreme Court published an opinion approving collaborative law rules.  The collaborative law rules are the last step necessary before Florida’s Collaborative Law Process Act goes into effect.

The opinion approves Rule Regulating the Florida Bar 4-1.19 and Florida Family Law Rule of Procedure 12.745.

Rule Regulating the Florida Bar 4-1.19

Florida Bar Rule 4-1.19 is a rule of professional conduct.  It creates certain obligations of attorneys representing clients within the collaborative process.  Among other things, the rule requires collaborative lawyers to do the following when contemplating collaborative practice with a client:

  • Provide sufficient information about the benefits and risks of the collaborative process;
  • Explain alternatives to the collaborative process, including litigation and mediation;

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Collaborative Divorce in Tampa Bay

What Is Next Generation Divorce?

If you have done internet searches for collaborative divorce in Tampa Bay or Greater Sarasota, you have likely come across the website for Next Generation Divorce (you can find the link here).  Next Generation Divorce has many members who are family law attorneys, but it is not a law firm.  It has members who are psychologists, licensed mental health counselors, marriage and family therapists, and social workers, but it is not a therapy-related organization.  And it has members who are financial planners and C.P.A.’s, but it is not a financial planning or accounting firm.

Next Generation Divorce

Member of Next Generation Divorce

So what is Next Generation Divorce?

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Collaborative Divorce: Maintaining A Safe Environment

As a collaborative lawyer, it is my obligation to provide a safe environment for my client, the family, and the collaborative team.  This obligation is not only to provide physical safety, but also the safety of the principles of collaborative practice.

Collaborative Divorce Texas (formerly known as the Collaborative Law Institute of Texas), a leading organization in the field of collaborative practice, created Protocols of Practice for Collaborative Lawyers.  Below you will find the Comment to Section 5.06: Safe Environment.

The collaborative lawyer acknowledges that a safe environment necessarily involves the following principles:

1.       Refraining from insistence on acceptance of conditions precedent to entering into the collaborative law process.

2.       Encouraging creative problem-solving and discouraging positional bargaining.

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High Net Worth Divorce in Tampa Bay

As a professional, executive, politician, sports figure, or otherwise high profile individual in Tampa Bay, you have a bigger incentive than most to keep your high net worth divorce amicable and private.  You do not need your dirty laundry aired in the media, and you want to minimize the amount of financial information in the public court file.  Further, you want to protect your kids from a potential circus environment.

Collaborative Divorce for High Net Worth Divorce in Tampa Bay

High Net Worth Divorce in Tampa Bay

For you, there is collaborative divorce.

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Cordover Letter on Collaborative Divorce Published in Tampa Bay Times

In February, the Tampa Bay Times reported that Charlie Crist, former governor of the State of Florida, filed a petition for divorce in which he stated that he anticipated that he and his wife will go through a “collaborative law process.”  On February 27, 2017, the Tampa Bay Times published a letter written by Family Diplomacy attorney Adam B. Cordover explaining what a collaborative divorce is.

You can find the letter reproduced below:

Crist filed for divorce from wife of 8 years Feb. 25

Collaborative divorce: what it is, how it works

On Feb. 24, U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, R-St. Petersburg, filed for divorce. In his petition, Crist states that he anticipates that he and his wife will go through a “collaborative law process.” What is a collaborative divorce?

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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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