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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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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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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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Face-to-Face Mediation

I have noticed lately that there is a trend among divorce mediators in Tampa Bay: keep spouses separate from one another.  This is known as “caucus”-style mediation, where the spouses are kept in separate rooms from the very beginning of mediation, and the mediator travels back and forth between the rooms relaying information and offers.

There is a good reason why many great mediators prefer caucus-style mediation.  As divorce is a highly-emotional process, spouses can set each other off when they are facing one another, and negotiations can descend into argument and cease being productive.

I can see where caucus-style mediation may be appropriate for some families, but it is not my preferred method.

acordover_logoRather, when I act as the neutral mediator, I prefer to practice face-to-face mediation.

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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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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.

Almost all Tampa Bay divorce lawyers refuse such a request to meet both spouses.  In fact, for the first few years, I also would not meet with both parties.  The reason was simple: the Florida Bar has found time and again that it is unethical for an attorney to represent both spouses to a divorce because there is an insurmountable conflict of interest.  Further, attorneys do not want to even give the impression that they are representing both spouses, so they avoid meeting with both spouses.

But now, I encourage both spouses to come to a divorce consultation.  In fact, I charge half my normal consultation fee, because I believe that one of the best ways to ensure that a marriage ends amicably is for both parties to start the divorce process together.

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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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UFC: Comparing Unified Family Courts with Ultimate Fighting Championship

I am a huge fan of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, usually referred to by its initials, UFC.  This comes as a big surprise to those getting to know me, because in my professional life I am dedicated to helping Tampa Bay families peacefully resolve their differences via the collaborative law process.  But there is something about the techniques, the artistry, the competition, the drama of a good fight that keeps drawing me to watch the sport.

And yet, I am not a big fan of another UFC, the Unified Family Courts, at least not as a means to resolve family disputes.  Beginning in 1991, a series of Florida Supreme Court opinions set out to create separate court division for families going through divorce, coordinate actions among the judges, and resolve family law issues in a fair, timely, efficient, and cost-effective method.  Though we have incredible and dedicated judges, clerks, and court staff who try their very best, it is still a very flawed system for helping families move on with their lives.

This post looks to compare these two UFCs.

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Keiba Shaw Media Statement on Tampa Same Sex Divorce Appeal

On May 29, 2015, Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal released its opinion in the matter of Shaw v. Shaw.  It determined that Florida should give full faith and credit to a same-sex marriage entered into under the laws of Massachusetts, and that Florida courts have the authority to dissolve the marriage.

This has been a long, tough road, but this is truly a great day for equality.

Keiba Shaw has authorized the release of the following statement:

An uncontested divorce between a man and a woman in Florida can be resolved in as little as a month. That’s just four weeks to dissolve a negative situation that both parties agree needs to end. It doesn’t matter how long they were married or WHERE they were married.

My [soon-to-be] former spouse and I used a next generation process, collaborative divorce, that was designed to resolve conflicts in a manner that was private, non-litigated, peaceful, and respectful. We reached a full agreement on all issues in two meetings that were one week apart.

And yet, because my former spouse and I are both women, my divorce has taken more than a year to be granted and has unnecessarily disrupted my life and that of my family members. The legal complexities have limited my options and the resulting financial burden has made it harder to take care of my family the way I envisioned.

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