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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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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 Law Featured in Pensacola News Journal

Thanks to the efforts of dedicated family law attorneys, mental health professionals, and financial professionals, collaborative law is spreading throughout Florida, including in Pensacola.

Collaborative law, also referred to as collaborative divorce, collaborative practice, and collaborative process, is a form of private dispute resolution.  In collaborative law, each party is represented by his or her own attorney, and the lawyers are there solely to help the parties reach an agreement.  The concept behind collaborative divorce is that most people want to move on with their lives as quickly and painlessly as possible without messing up their kids.

Pensacola New Journal Features Collaborative Law

The Pensacola News Journal recently ran an article featuring collaborative practice.  You can find excerpts from the article, titled “West Coast Collaborative Law wants to make divorces friendlier,” below:

A group of Panhandle lawyers has started a nonprofit that aims to reduce the cost and emotional turmoil of divorces.

West Florida Collaborative Law has only been in existence for a few months, but Milton lawyer John Susko said the group already has more than a dozen attorneys, as well as financial and mental health professionals, who are helping grow the program.

The idea behind collaborative family law is that instead of spending time and money in courtrooms, couples talk out their divorce through mediation and back-and-forth discussion, Susko said.

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Harvard Law Professor David A. Hoffman Explains the Uniform Collaborative Law Act

Video: Harvard Law Professor Explains Uniform Collaborative Law Act

Last year, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed into law the Collaborative Law Process Act.  There are still some steps that need to be taken for the law to go into effect (namely, the Florida Supreme Court will need to establish rules of procedure and rules of professional conduct).  However, the collaborative community celebrated this milestone after a seven year effort by family law attorneys, mental health professionals, and financial professionals.

Uniform Collaborative Law Act

Florida’s Collaborative Law Process Act is based on the Uniform Collaborative Law Act (“UCLA”).  The UCLA is proposed legislation drafted by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws.  The Uniform Law Commission, as it is more commonly known, creates proposed legislation that it hopes states will adopt to bring consistency and clarity to different areas of the law.

Back in 2010, the American Bar Association House of Delegates was considering whether to support the UCLA.  In the video below made in 2009, Harvard Law Professor David A. Hoffman explains the UCLA.  He also advocates for the American Bar Association to support the UCLA.

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TED Talk: Lawyer As Peacemaker

Harvard Law Professor and Collaborative Attorney David A. Hoffman recently gave a TED Talk on “Lawyer as Peacemaker.”

You can find the TED Talk after the jump:

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