On June 5, 2017, the Honorable Ronald N. Ficarrotta, Chief Judge of the Thirteenth Circuit in and for Hillsborough County (which includes Tampa), entered an administrative order seeking to sanction and crack down on frivolous litigation.
Litigation is how divorce has traditionally been handled. In litigation, husbands are pitted against wives. Mothers are pitted against fathers. Further, each makes arguments to make him or herself look good and the other look bad. As you can imagine, this way of handling divorce can get out of hand, and children are usually stuck in the middle.
New Administrative Order on Frivolous Litigation
Here is what the administrative order says about frivolous litigation:
Access to Florida state courts is a right enjoyed by all persons under Article V, section 21 of the Florida Constitution, regardless of legal representation. When a person abuses his or her right to access to the courts however, the courts have an obligation to balance the litigant’s right of access and the need of the courts to prevent repetitious and frivolous filings.
The frequent frivolous filing of merit less cases has the detrimental effect of consuming an inordinate amount of judicial time and resources – time and resources that therefore are not devoted to resolving potentially meritorious claims presented in other cases before the court.
Courts have the inherent authority to prohibit the deliberate and continual filing of frivolous actions that demonstrate an egregious abuse of the judicial process and ultimately interfere with the timely administration of justice. See generally Bolton v. SE Property Holdings. LLC, 127 So. 3d 746 (Fla. 1st DCA 2013 ); Delgado v. Hearn, 805 So. 2d 1017 (Fla. 2nd DCA 200 I); and State v. Spencer, 751 So. 2d 47 (Fla. 1999).
The entry of this administrative order is necessary to protect the constitutional right of access to the courts for all litigants and permit the court to devote its finite resources to the consideration of legitimate claims filed in the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit.
An Alternative To Frivolous Litigation
For people going through divorce, there are ways to avoid frivolous litigation. The best way in most cases is called collaborative divorce.
In collaborative divorce, each spouse has his and her own attorney to represent and counsel him or her. Further, both spouses and both attorneys agree that the attorneys cannot be used to fight against one another in court. This means that no time, money, or energy is spent in costly legal proceedings, opposition research, or frivolous litigation.
This works because a neutral facilitator, with a background in family dynamics, communication, and childhood development helps divorcing spouses focus on the future and create a parenting plan that is tailored for their children. Also, it works because a neutral financial professional helps the clients ensure that they understand the family finances and develops options for each spouse’s future financial security.
Collaborative divorce is not an adversarial process, but rather a team process. The clients are not considered “opposing parties,” but spouses or co-parents. Their attorneys are not considered “opposing counsel,” but teammates trying to help the clients reach agreements to peacefully, respectfully, and privately resolve disputes.
If you are going through divorce, avoid frivolous litigation. Help your family through the collaborative divorce process.
Adam B. Cordover is one of the most experienced collaborative attorneys in Tampa Bay. He teaches attorneys, mental health professionals, and financial professionals how to offer collaborative services.