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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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Tampa Tribune Publishes Cordover Letter on Collaborative Divorce

The March 31, 2016 edition of the Tampa Tribune published a Letter to the Editor penned by Family Diplomacy Managing Attorney Adam B. Cordover on the newly signed Florida Collaborative Law Process Act (“CLPA”).  You can find the Letter to the Editor below:

LETTER OF THE DAY:  TAKING THE FIGHTING OUT OF DIVORCE

Recent bills passed by the Florida Legislature reforming alimony and changing child time-sharing laws have received a lot of attention, but something that has flown under the radar is the passage of the Collaborative Law Process Act (CLPA). Gov. Rick Scott signed the bill on March 24 after a seven-year effort by licensed mental health counselors, marriage and family therapists, psychologists and other family advocates.

 

The CLPA applies to divorce and other family law matters, and it creates a uniform system for the practice of collaborative law (also sometimes referred to as collaborative divorce, collaborative practice or the collaborative process).

The goal of collaborative law is to take the fighting out of divorce. Each spouse retains an attorney for the sole purpose of reaching an out-of-court agreement. Collaborative attorneys are barred from wasting any of the clients’ energy, time or money on opposition research, discovery motions or preparing for trial.

Collaborative law often involves a neutral facilitator with a mental health licensure. This is in recognition of the fact that divorce is not just a legal process, but it is predominately an emotional process. The facilitator helps parents learn to communicate and focus on what is most important to them, such as the health and welfare of their children.

Collaborative Law Process Act Protects Families’ Privacy

Last Friday, the Florida Senate passed its version of HB-967, the Collaborative Law Process Act, priming Florida to become the 14th state to pass a version of the Uniform Collaborative Law Act.

The bill, which was voted on in the Florida Senate by 39-0 after passing the Florida House last month by 117-0, is now enrolled and expected to be signed by the governor.  At the earliest, the Collaborative Law Process Act becomes binding on July 1, 2016.  However, it may take longer, as the bill itself states that it will not go into effect until 30 days after the Florida Supreme Court adopts Rules of Procedure and Rules of Professional Responsibility consistent with the bill.  It is my understanding that proposed rules have been provided or will be provided to the Supreme Court.

[Update: On March 24, 2016, Governor Scott Signed the Collaborative Law Process Act]

The Collaborative Law Process Act, which applies to divorce, paternity, and other family law matters, does several things:

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Client Review: A Complicated Divorce Goes Collaborative

Recently, I came across a very complicated divorce matter where two women had been battling in the court system for six years, even before the State of Florida recognized their marriage.  One of the women ended up firing her aggressive trial attorney and hiring me because I offered an alternative: collaborative divorce.  Once everyone agreed to stop fighting, we were able to reach an agreement within just a few months’ time.

That client, Pattie, recently wrote a touching review about my paralegal, Jennifer, and I at avvo.com.  You can find the review below.

As I am required to note by the Florida Bar, please understand that every case is different, and you may not receive the same or similar results.

The Law Firm of Adam B. Cordover & Staff are amazing, professional caring people. Please know that I don’t mean for this review to be long or boring, my intent is to shed hope & shine light into your present life from my past experience and situation.

My situation was very complicated from the start being a same sex marriage which for years was not recognized in the State of Florida until January 2015 and two properties involved.

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Video: FACP Collaborative Divorce Roundtable

I recently got together with Dr. Jim Morris, a psychologist from Clearwater, and Ed Sachs, a certified public accountant based out of Miami, for a roundtable discussion on collaborative divorce.  Dr. Morris is co-author of Mindful Co-Parenting: A Child-Friendly Path Through Divorce, and Mr. Sachs is Vice President of the Florida Academy of Collaborative Professionals (“FACP”).

You can find the video of the roundtable discussion, recorded for the FACP, after the jump:

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Next Generation Divorce Honors Hillsborough Judge Ashley Moody

As one of my last duties as president of Next Generation Divorce, I had the opportunity to induct Judge Ashley Moody of the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit as an Honorary Member of the collaborative practice group at our December holiday party.  Judge Moody, based out of the Edgecomb Courthouse in Tampa, Florida, has been a strong supporter of the use of collaborative family law as a method to help families resolve issues related to divorce and other matters in a private, nonadversarial, and respectful setting.

Judge Moody’s induction into Next Generation Divorce was announced in the January 15th edition of the Florida Bar News:

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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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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: Separating Together

A collaborative practice group out of North Carolina called Separating Together has put together an excellent video that emphasizes that divorce is not only a legal process, but it is also an emotional, logistical, and financial process.

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You can see the video below:

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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.

Read more