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Collaborative Divorce Is Not Right For You If…

Collaborative divorce is not for everyone.  Sure, most families going through divorce would benefit from the private, secure, and non-adversarial nature of the collaborative process.  However, it may not be right for you if certain things are important to you.

Collaborative divorce is not right for you if…

You are seeking revenge

If you are seeking revenge, collaborative divorce is not right for you.  The collaborative process will not satisfy your need to see your spouse suffer.  This is because, at the beginning of the case, everyone signs a collaborative participation agreement in which the spouses agree to engage in good faith discussions to reach a resolution.  Each spouse has his or her own attorney, and the attorneys are there solely to help the clients reach an agreement.  The attorneys cannot be used for opposition research, lengthy motion practice, or accusatory litigation.

Picture for representational purposeHowever, the attorneys are also there to safeguard the process.  If an attorney believes that his or her client is no longer acting in good faith, or is only attempting to damage the other spouse, the attorney may have the right to terminate the process.  This shuts down behavior meant to harass the other spouse.  If the attorney believes his or her client can put the need for revenge aside, the collaborative process may continue.  If not, the collaborative attorney has a duty to ensure that the process is not being used as a tool for vengeance.

Further, the collaborative process generally involves a neutral facilitator, with a background in communication, childhood development, and family and power dynamics.  The facilitator helps keep conversations productive and forward-focused rather than centered on past grievances.  The facilitator is also there to address power imbalances and shortcut vengeful actions and communications.

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Direnfeld: Settling Parenting Disputes Outside Court

Do you ever wonder how your divorce is affecting your children?  Do you sometimes think about how conflict may be affecting your own mental health, and your ability to effectively parent, or co-parent?

Gary Direnfeld is an internationally known social worker, speaker, and parenting expert based out of Ontario.  He has been an expert witness in many high conflict divorce trials, and yet he is a strong believer that the courtroom is a terrible forum for resolving divorce and parenting disputes.  In the following radio interview, Gary discusses why he believes parenting and divorce-related issues should be resolved outside of court:

You can find a partial transcript, slightly edited for clarity, below:

Roughly 80% of folks going through a separation or divorce are going to settle things between themselves.  They may have some 3rd party assistance.  Twenty percent are going to turn to the courts.  Less than 5%, even if turning to the courts, are going to go to trial.  Most matter settle ahead of a trial.  And then there is that small percentage, that 1, 2, or 3% that really tie up the courts’ time.  And I, for whatever reason, find myself heavily involved with those folks.

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High conflict parents turn to the court searching for release only to find that in many, many cases, litigation only exacerbates the problems.  It doesn’t resolve them.  And the reason for that is, in turning to the courts, it is often a race to the bottom.  I will prove my case by making you look worse than me, and no one wants to be on the receiving end of that.  So the other parent reciprocates in kind.  And then the “he said she said” escalates to such a pitch that it is hard to know one from the other.  

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Simplified Dissolution of Marriage

How Often Do Collaborative Divorces Terminate?

Good, you have decided that if you are going to divorce, you are going to do it collaboratively.  This means that you and your spouse will each have your own attorneys, but the attorneys are not there to fight.  You hire the attorneys to help reach an out-of-court agreement so you can move on with your lives.

But you may also know that either spouse at any time can decide they no longer want to participate in the collaborative divorce, causing it to terminate.  All professionals are automatically fired.  The spouses then proceed as “opposing parties” in the traditional divorce court route.

The possibility of losing your attorney is a scary notion.  So, you may be wondering to yourself, how often do collaborative divorces terminate?

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Video: Ron Ousky on Hiring A Family-Focused Divorce Lawyer

When determining which attorney to hire for your divorce, you may be tempted to believe that your best option is to hire an overly-aggressive lawyer.  But is that truly going to benefit you and your family?  Do you want to make your spouse “the enemy” and make your children collateral damage?  Well, there is another option.  Instead, you can hire a family-focused divorce lawyer.

In the video below, Minnesota collaborative attorney Ron Ousky, former president of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals, discusses, among other things, why you should consider hiring a family-focused divorce lawyer.

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IACP Collaborative Law Practice

Video: A Client’s View of Collaborative Divorce

After you decide to divorce, the question of how you divorce can be one of the most consequential decisions you make. You have choices.  Many people hire a trial lawyer  and go the traditional litigation route to fight it out in court.  Usually they do this because they don’t know there are options.

In most cases, the single most humane and effective option out there is collaborative divorce.  In collaborative divorce, you receive the support of your own attorney, but the attorneys are not there to fight.  Rather, they are there to work together and help you figure out the best way for you and your spouse to move on with your lives as quickly, peacefully, and efficiently as possible.  Other professionals are utilized to ensure everyone focuses on the future rather than the arguments that led to the divorce, as well as to aid in financial transparency.

In the video below, produced by the Tampa Bay Academy of Collaborative Professionals, a former husband, Nick, discusses his collaborative 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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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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Financial Advisers Learn About Collaborative Divorce

Financial advisers are tasked with protecting their clients’ wealth.  And financial advisers want to help clients going through divorce make smart decisions and preserve their assets.  On December 8, 2016, the professionals and staff of the Sabal Trust Company in St. Petersburg, Florida, learned how collaborative divorce can safeguard their clients’ wealth, time, and privacy.

Discussing Collaborative Divorce

Sarah Hoerber, Tanya O’Connor, and Adam B. Cordover at Sabal Trust Company

Sabal Trust is the largest employee-owned trust company in Florida, and its Principals and staff are invested in creating a strategic approach to its clients financial security and growth. That is why they invited Family Diplomacy managing attorney Adam B. Cordover along with forensic accountant Sarah Hoerber and Brandon attorney Tanya O’Connor to discuss collaborative divorce.

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Collabortive Professionals Honor Florida Legislators

Two hundred members of the Florida Academy of Collaborative Professionals (“FACP”) gathered in Tampa to honor Florida legislators and others for their leadership in passing the Collaborative Law Process Act (“CLPA”).  The CLPA, among other things, protects the privacy of families going through divorce.  It creates a statutory privilege (like the attorney-client privilege) that, except under limited circumstances, ensures that what is said during a collaborative divorce process cannot be used against a spouse in court.

In 2016, Senator Tom Lee introduced the CLPA bill in the Florida Senate.  Representative Cyndi Stevenson, with the support of Representative Dana Young, introduced a version in Florida’s House of Representatives.  All three were given awards by Florida’s statewide collaborative organization for helping to protect Florida’s families via the CLPA.

 

 

Pictured, from left to right, are Senator Tom Lee, Cole Jeffries, Robert Merlin, Judge Laurel Lee, Representative Dana Young, and Representative Cyndi Stevenson.

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