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Do You Need A Divorce Second Opinion?

As the New Year is upon us, many people are reflecting upon the past year and determining what changes need to be made for the coming year.  If you have been going through a tough, litigious divorce in Florida in 2015, perhaps it is time to reassess your divorce strategy and divorce process.

According to the traditional family law model, divorce is a zero-sum game where each party hires attack dog lawyers. The lawyers not only show their client in a positive light but also tear the other party down.  Traditional divorce lawyers engage in damaging opposition research, through depositions, interrogatories, requests for production of documents and things, and requests for admissions.  Of course, the other attorney defends against opposition research with objections, motions for protective orders, and discovery requests in response.

Traditional divorce lawyers then set public hearings on motions to compel, motions for contempt, and motions for attorneys’ fees and costs.  Even after these motions are heard, parties may still be years away from a final trial.

Does this sound familiar?  Are you unhappy about the path that your divorce has taken?  If so, you may want to consider getting a second opinion on your divorce.

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Top 10 Family Diplomacy Blog Posts of 2015

This year marked the fifth anniversary of this firm, and also the evolution from a general family law practice as The Law Firm of Adam B. Cordover, P.A., to an exclusively out-of-court practice as Family Diplomacy: A Collaborative Law Firm.  We refocused on collaborative divorce and family law, mediation, direct negotiations, and unbundled legal services, and we adopted a new website, FamilyDiplomacy.com, which contained our new blog.

Below you will find the ten most viewed blog posts of the year on FamilyDiplomacy.com:

Number 10

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…

Number 9

Video: Stu Webb’s Collaborative Divorce & Jazz

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…

Number 8

Tampa Collaborative Divorce Consultation

Since I opened my law practice, I have received phone calls from potential clients asking if they could bring their spouse to the divorce consultation. Their purpose was to go to a lawyer together, hear the same information, and demonstrate that they are not trying to hire a “pitbull lawyer” or engage in dirty trial tactics. They simply wanted to dissolve their marriage, and they did not want to fight in order to make the divorce happen…

Number 7

Do You Really Need An “Aggressive” Divorce Lawyer?

If you are considering divorce, whether here in Florida or elsewhere, and you are doing online research about family law attorneys, you will come across many firms that describe their attorneys as “aggressive” and “ready to fight for you.”

You will not find that type of language on Family Diplomacy’s website, as we believe that spouses should not be pitted against one another…

Number 6

UFC: Comparing Unified Family Courts with Ultimate Fighting Championship

The range of techniques that are displayed in the Ultimate Fighting Championship are absolutely breathtaking. From jabs to takedowns to flying armbars, each fighter attacks and counterattacks and does whatever he or she can to get the upper hand over the opponent. Similarly, in the Unified Family Courts, opposing attorneys and opposing parties engage in a variety of tactics in an attempt to build up one side and tear down the other…

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Pauline Tesler on Stu Webb (from 1999)

Stu Webb is known as the father of collaborative family law, a non-adversarial process where the spouses’ attorneys agree to focus solely on out-of-court dispute resolution.  Pauline Tesler is oftentimes thought of as the mother of collaborative divorce, emphasizing the benefits of an interdisciplinary team and spearheading the creation of institutions, such as the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (“IACP”), to help more families.

Back in 1999, Pauline wrote an article in the very first edition of the Collaborative Quarterly (requires IACP membership & password to access), a publication of the IACP (then known as the American Institute of Collaborative Professionals) about Stu Webb and the origins of collaborative law.

You can find excerpts from that article below:

Stuart Webb, of Minneapolis, Minnesota, had been practicing family law in the “usual way” for more than twenty years when, like many of us, he became interested during the late 1980’s in mediation and alternative dispute resolution….

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Collaborative Training for Family Law Staff

When a potential client calls your firm, who is the first person with whom she speaks?  When a potential clients arrives at your office, who is the first person that he sees?  If you are a collaboratively-trained attorney, mental health professional, financial professional, or mediator, there is a good chance that your staff is the first voice that a potential client hears, the first face that a potential client sees.

How is that staff member representing you?  Is that first interaction being used as an opportunity to familiarize the client with the term “collaborative practice?”

Joryn Jenkins

Those first interactions are but one of the many different skills that a friend and mentor of mine, Joryn Jenkins, will discuss in her unique collaborative training geared towards professional staff.

The training will take place in Tampa, Florida, on January 22, and it will also be streamed live for professional staff that is outside of the area.

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Video: Collaborative Practice in Brazil

Collaborative divorce is a relatively new concept in Tampa.  It is counterintuitive to think that attorneys would promote a concept that keeps divorcing spouses out of court.  Further, who would think that attorneys would be willing to take a step back, and allow (i) mental health professionals to take the lead in emotional divorce discussions and (ii) financial professionals to be the point people on the division of assets and debts and other support topics.

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And, yet, that is what collaborative lawyers do.

Collaborative practice is growing around the world, including in Brazil.  Below is a video in Portuguese that discusses collaborative divorce in Brazil:

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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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Radio: Can Therapy Save A Marriage?

I recently attended the 16th Annual Forum of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals, and I had the opportunity to attend a workshop led by Gary Direnfeld, a social worker and collaborative professional in Ontario, Canada.  He was an excellent speaker and was discussing cutting edge ideas on helping families.

Gary was recently on a radio program to discuss an age-old question: Can therapy help save a marriage?

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Video: 25 Years of Collaborative Divorce

Collaborative divorce and family law began 25 years ago, in 1990, when a Minnesota attorney named Stu Webb decided that he simply no longer wanted to be part of an adversarial divorce process.  He strongly felt that divorce did not belong in the court system: decisions about where children should sleep at night should be made by the parents, and discussions of financial issues should happen around a private conference room table rather than in a public courtroom.

And so, he developed collaborative divorce, where parties agree from the very beginning that their collaborative attorneys cannot be used to fight it out in the court system.

The International Academy of Collaborative Professionals has put out a video commemorating 25 years of collaborative practice.  You can find the video below the jump.

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Former Florida Supreme Court Justice: Divorce Doesn’t Belong In Court

Rosemary Barkett, the first female Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court and former federal judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit believes that the court system is not an appropriate place to resolve divorce-related matters.

[PORTRAIT: Justice Rosemary Barkett]

Below are excerpts from a series of interviews of Justice Barkett conducted between 2006-2009 and recorded as part of the American Bar Association Senior Lawyers Division Women Trailblazers in the Law program:

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Money Talk 1010 AM: Cost Savings of Collaborative Divorce Compared to Trial Divorce

I recently was at the St. Petersburg studios of Money Talk 1010 AM with fellow attorney Joryn Jenkins to discuss, among other things, how a collaborative divorce tends to make more financial sense then going through the traditional courthouse divorce.  The discussion was facilitated by Let’s Talk Law’s Roxanne Wilder and sponsored by Next Generation Divorce.

The radio program begins around the 5:30 mark after the jump below.

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