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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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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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Top 5 Reasons to Choose Collaborative Divorce

Divorce is difficult, but not all divorces are created equally.  Here in Tampa Bay and Greater Sarasota, more and more people are choosing to resolve their family law issues via the collaborative process.  Collaborative divorce is a method of dispute resolution where the spouses agree from the beginning that they are each going to retain attorneys who will work as settlement specialists and who will not engage in court battles.

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Video: Linda Solomon And The Neutral Facilitator Collaborative Divorce Model

Collaborative divorce has one simple requirement: The spouses must each retain attorneys who focus solely on helping them reach an agreement on all issues.  The collaborative attorneys are private problem-solving specialists, and they cannot be used in contested court hearings.  This requirement creates a safe, non-adversarial environment so that each spouse knows that the other spouse’s attorney is not attempting to gather information to use against him or her later in court.  It also ensures that resources are directed towards helping the clients reach an agreement rather than wasted in opposition research or dirty trial tactics.

There are many different models of collaborative divorce that are used throughout the world.  The model that is most frequently used here in Florida involves one neutral facilitator, who generally has a mental health background, and one neutral financial professional.  This model was created in Texas by, among others, Linda Solomon, a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.

You can learn more about Linda Solomon and the beginning of this model in the video below from Cutting Edge Law:

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Five Stages of Grief In Divorce

In 1969, a Swiss psychiatrist, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, published a book in which she described the five stages of grief experienced by terminally-ill patients.  This work was later expanded to help explain the emotions of people who have lost a loved one and others experiencing personal loss, such as spouses going through divorce.

Divorce is a trauma, and anyone going through this trauma may be helped by speaking with a counselor or therapist.  Additionally, you should consider whether the collaborative family law process may be helpful to your family, as it is a private form of dispute resolution that generally involves a neutral facilitator, who usually has a mental health background.  This is in recognition that divorce is not just a legal matter, but also a highly emotional matter.

Regardless, below are the five stages of grief you may experience if you are going through divorce:

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Video: General’s Daughter Discusses Her Peaceful Divorce

Cynthia Schwarzkopf, daughter of General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr, discusses how she and her husband utilized the collaborative family law process to dissolve her marriage in a video released by the Tampa Bay Collaborative Divorce Group.

You can see the video below the jump:

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A Non-Adversarial Divorce in Tampa Bay

When most people think of divorce, they think of a courthouse battle.  Florida’s court system pits husband versus wife, mother versus father, and what ensues is many times not too different from divorces depicted in War of the Roses or Kramer vs. Kramer.

But collaborative divorce is something different altogether.

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Tampa Bay Times Article on 2015 Florida Collaborative Divorce Bill

The Tampa Bay Times recently published an article on collaborative divorce.  The article quotes four local collaborative professionals (attorneys Ingrid Hooglander, Tanya O’Conner, and Mark Moon, and psychologist Rachel Moskowitz), all of whom are members of Next Generation Divorce, an interdisciplinary group of professionals dedicated to educating the public about a healthier way to resolve their family disputes.

The article also interviews State Senator Tom Lee of Brandon, who is the sponsor of Senate Bill 642, the Collaborative Law Practice Act.  Though collaborative law is already being practiced as a private way to resolve divorces and other family law issues in Tampa Bay and throughout Florida, the bill provides a legal framework for the process and adds protections to the privacy of communications during settlement talks.

Below is an excerpt:

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What is the Purpose of Florida Family Law?

Anyone who has gone through a divorce, paternity, or other family law proceeding in Hillsborough County or elsewhere in Florida may have wondered: What is the purpose of Florida Family Law?

Well, section 61.001(2) purports to have an answer:

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What Your Florida Divorce Lawyer May Not Be Telling You

The vast majority of divorce attorneys in Tampa Bay and around Florida are good, hardworking people with their clients’ best interests always at mind.  However, there is one divorce option that more and more financial and mental health professionals agree is the best way to handle a family law matter, and yet many attorneys will not tell their clients about it:  collaborative divorce.

Collaborative divorce is a private form of dispute resolution where each spouse hires their own attorney only for the purposes of helping to negotiate a marital settlement agreement. Collaborative attorneys are contractually prohibited from going to trial or bringing any contested issues to be decided by a judge.

Trial Divorce = Big $$ for Attorneys

This is one reason why there are a lot of divorce trial lawyers who are against collaborative divorce:  attorneys make a lot of money billing time for trial-related activities such as depositions, interrogatories, witness preparation, exhibit analysis and selection, and trial itself.  Trial attorneys bill this time even though they know that 95% of all divorce cases end in settlement, even sometimes after trial but right before a judge issues a ruling.   Read more