Sample Collaborative Divorce Participation Agreement

If you are considering or going through divorce, there are two terms you should become familiar with:  collaborative divorce and collaborative divorce participation agreement.

Collaborative divorce is a form of private dispute resolution where you, your spouse, and your attorneys agree from the beginning that they will not fight in court.  You agree that you do not want to subject yourselves, your children, your business, and your friends and family to an adversarial, hostile, and public court system.  You just want to move on to your better future in the least painful way possible.

Though there are statutes and rules that interact with the collaborative divorce process, it is mainly governed by a contract, known as a collaborative divorce participation agreement.  This is an agreement that you and your spouse sign.  Because the collaborative divorce process is very different than the traditional divorce process, it is important that you have a complete understanding of your collaborative divorce participation agreement and walk through the agreement thoroughly with your attorney.

Below is a sample collaborative divorce participation agreement that I often use in my cases here in Tampa Bay.  Keep in mind that there are a lot of variations of this agreement, and different communities use different participation agreements.  In fact, I use different participation agreements depending on the circumstances of the family and what type of resolution they are trying to reach (i.e., divorce, post-divorce, prenuptial agreement, or postnuptial agreement).

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Introductory Collaborative Training

Has Your Divorce Lawyer Completed an Introductory Collaborative Training?

If you are in the market for a divorce lawyer, you should know that not all divorce lawyers are the same.  Some specialize in fighting in court, while others focus on resolving disputes outside of court.  One way to help determine which strategy your divorce lawyer focuses on is to find out whether he or she has completed an Introductory Collaborative Practice Training.

What is An Introductory Collaborative Practice Training?

An Introductory Collaborative Practice Training is one of the first steps a lawyer or other professional takes before offering collaborative divorce services.  Collaborative divorce is a process where the spouses agree that they will not use their attorneys to fight in court; rather the attorneys and any other professionals will focus solely on helping the family resolve their disputes and move on to their better future.

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Video: Therapist Discusses Collaborative Divorce and Kids

Kids are often caught in the middle of divorce. Their parents are fighting, and many times the kids’ needs get ignored.

Fortunately, not all divorce processes are the same.  Collaborative divorce gives parents the opportunity to work in a non-adversarial setting and develop a parenting plan tailored to meet children’s needs.

In the video below, therapist Jacquie Lamb, LMHC, discusses collaborative divorce and children.  This video was produced by the Florida Academy of Collaborative Professionals.

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Does Your Lawyer Meet IACP Minimum Standards for Collaborative Practitioners?

If you are going through divorce, you may have heard of collaborative divorce as a non-adversarial method of separating.  What you may not know is that not all divorce lawyers have completed collaborative training.  Further, even among those who have completed a training, not all collaborative lawyers meet the IACP Minimum Standards for Collaborative Practitioners.

IACP Collaborative Law PracticeInternational Academy of Collaborative Professionals

The IACP is the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals.  It is the premiere organization when it comes to helping families resolve disputes in a better way.  The mission of the IACP is “To transform the way families resolves conflict by building a global community of Collaborative Practice and consensual dispute resolution professionals.”

The IACP initially created Minimum Standards for Collaborative Practitioners in 2004; it revised and adopted the current Standards in 2014.  It states the following about the Standards:

The IACP Standards for Trainers, Trainings, and Practitioners are drafted with an awareness of the aggregate nature of learning. Knowledge comes from the interface between education and practical experience. Skill is acquired from the successive application of education to experience. With those principles in mind, these Standards should be understood as a point of departure in a continuing journey of education and practice for Collaborative practitioners and trainers.

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Video: Collaborative Divorce – A Good Way to Separate

There’s no getting around the fact that divorce is difficult and painful.  And yet, not all divorces are the same.  To the contrary, some methods to separate are designed to be adversarial and others are designed to be holistic.

In the short video below, produced by the Florida Academy of Collaborative Professionals, social worker Gary Direnfeld discusses collaborative divorce, which he views as a good way to separate.  Direnfeld filmed this clip at the 7th Annual Conference of the Florida Academy of Collaborative Professionals.

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Mosten Cordover Training San Diego September 2019

• Do you want more collaborative cases?

• Are you looking to conduct more mediations?

• Can you imagine a day where your peacemaking practice is so profitable that you no longer need to take litigation matters?

Building a Successful Collaborative and Mediation Practice

With Forrest Mosten and
Guest Trainer, Adam B. Cordover of Tampa, FL

San Diego, California
September 27-28, 2019

Tuition Discounts for:
• Early Bird Registration
• IACP Membership
• 3 or More Participants from same Collaborative Practice Group


 

This workshop will provide you with the real-world tools and ideas that can help you transform your practice. Now is the time to take the future of your career in your own hands and learn how you can become a full-time peacemaker.

Using concepts and practice forms from their 2018 ABA Book, Building a Successful Collaborative Family Law Practice and Woody’s classics, Mediation Career Guide and Collaborative Divorce Handbook, Adam and Woody will take you step by step how to build and grow your practice, including:

• Standing Out In A Crowded Marketplace
• Tailoring Models of Collaborative Practice to Meet a Families’ Needs
• Utilizing Interdisciplinary Models of Mediation
• Creating a Menu of Peacemaking Services
• Exploring New Opportunities in Preventative Dispute Resolution
• Much Much More

This course has been adopted by both the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals and the ABA and has been highly praised by past participants when it was held in Seattle (twice with Kevin Scudder), Chicago (3 times with Carl Michael Rossi), Tampa (with Adam Cordover) Coral Gables (with Enid Miller Ponn), New York City (with Ken Neumann), Los Angeles, Minneapolis (With Ron Ousky), Boston (with David Hoffman), Toronto, Marin County (with Steve Rosenberg) and other venues.

Mosten Mediation and Collaborative Training is an Approved CLE Provider for the California State Bar (including Family Law Specialization) and CAMFT for Marriage and Child Therapists and Licensed Clinical Social Workers.

 


Woody’s Minneapolis training on Getting More Cases has truly set the Iowa Collaborative practice group on fire — several of us have found all sorts of magical things zhappening since we’ve been back in Des Moines. It’s amazing what happens when you begin to think more creatively about your practice and how to use collaborative law skills to better serve your clients. I’ve attended a lot of trainings in my career and his is top notch. I highly recommend Woody’s training.

Kimberly Graham, Collaborative Attorney and Mediator

West Des Moines, IA

www.GrahamLawCollaborative.com

 

Click Here to Read More Participant Comments About This Course


Forrest (Woody) Mosten is in collaborative law and mediation practice with offices in San Diego and Los Angeles. He specializes in matters involving complex legal and financial issues and high conflict parties. Woody is the author of Building A Successful Collaborative Family Law Practice (ABA, 2018, with Adam B. Cordover), Unbundled Legal Services (ABA, 2017, with Elizabeth Potter Scully), Collaborative Divorce Handbook (Jossey-Bass, 2010), The Complete Guide to Mediation, 2nd Edition (ABA, 2015 with Elizabeth Potter Scully) and Mediation Career Guide Jossey-Bass, 2001).

Adam B. Cordover is a member of the Board of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals and co-chair and instructor of the Florida Academy of Collaborative Professionals Leadership Institute. He is co-author with Forrest “Woody” Mosten of Building A Successful Collaborative Family Law Practice, published by the American Bar Association in 2018. In 2015, Adam stopped taking litigation cases and now practices exclusively in out-of-court dispute resolution.

For questions about course content or nearby hotels, click the button below or call (310) 721-4291.

HB 409 Approves Online Notarization

Florida Greenlights Online Notarization

We lawyers love paper.  Look at any lawyer’s desk and you will likely see reams and reams of paper, many of which require notarization.

But, more and more, this is becoming a paperless world.  In fact, courts and clerks of court have recognized this reality with the advent of Florida’s e-filing portal.  In this way, paper documents that used to be required to be couriered or mailed to a court can now be submitted electronically.

Yet, notarization still tends to be done with paper copies, with a party having to appear in person in front of a notary public.

This will all change with the enactment of Florida HB 409 which provides for Registration and Authority for Online Notarization.  Below is a summary analysis of the bill from the House of Representatives:

Summary Analysis

CS/CS/HB 409 passed the House on April 24, 2019, and subsequently passed the Senate on May 2, 2019.

Certain documents require a notary public’s presence and signature. Current law prohibits a notary from notarizing a signature if the party executing the document is not in the notary’s physical presence at the time of signature.

A will is a legal document used to designate the distribution of a person’s assets upon death. To be valid, a will must follow certain formalities with respect to its creation, execution, preservation, revocation, and filing. A will must be signed:

 By the testator, who is the person making the will; and
 In the presence of two witnesses, one of which must testify to the authenticity of the will, unless the will is self-proved.

The bill authorizes remote notarization and the use of an electronic will. Specifically, the bill provides:

 Definitions for online notarization and the required technology;
 Procedures, standards, and requirements for online notarization;
 Registration requirements for online notaries;
 A certificate to be used by online notaries;
 Standards for supervising the witnessing of electronic records; and

The bill also authorizes the use of an electronic will. An electronic will is executed, modified, and revoked in a similar manner as a paper will under current law. The bill provides a means for self-proving, storing, and filing an electronic will. The bill creates a “qualified custodian” who is responsible for possessing and controlling the electronic will.

The bill may have an indeterminate, though likely insignificant fiscal impact on state government expenditures.

The bill was approved by the Governor on June 7, 2019, ch. 2019-71, L.O.F., and will become effective on
January 1, 2020, except as otherwise provided.

So, beginning on January 1, 2020, notaries may begin offering online notarization with a party needing to be physically present in front of him or her.  In fact, the party does not even need to be located in the State of Florida so long as the notary is located in the state.

Keep in mind that the notary will need to utilize specialized platforms, and the party will need to have access to audio and visual equipment.  Additionally, the law requires the notary to hold a minimum bond.  Accordingly, not every notary will offer online notarization, but access to online notaries should be relatively easy.

Effect on Divorce and Family Law

In the divorce and family law arena, there are many documents that get notarized, which may include the following (depending on your matter):

  • Petition;
  • Answer;
  • Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) Affidavit;
  • Financial Affidavit;
  • Certificate of Compliance with Mandatory Disclosure;
  • Notice of Social Security Number;
  • Waiver;
  • Parenting Plan; and
  • Marital Settlement Agreement.

When you are in the middle of something as emotionally draining as a divorce, adoption, or paternity matter, you may not have the energy to come to an attorney’s office or go to a bank or other provider and get these items notarized in person.

Accordingly, beginning January 1, 2020, your life will be made a little easier with the option of online notarization.


Adam B. Cordover is a collaborative attorney, mediator, and trainer.  Adam is also co-author of Building A Successful Collaborative Family Law Practice (ABA 2018).

Manafort’s Daughter Changed Her Name, And So Can You!

Do you have a father who has done things that you are not exactly proud of?  Do you have a parent who has gained notoriety in your community?  Are the actions or reputation of a relative beginning to negatively impact you?

Well, according to a report in the Tampa Bay Times, Paul Manafort’s daughter decided to do something about it.  Paul Manafort is the former campaign manager to President Trump who was convicted for tax and bank fraud and pleaded guilty to illegal lobbying on behalf of Ukrainian interest.  Because of this and the spectacle it has caused, his daughter decided to legally change her last name.

And, you know what?  In most cases, you, too, can change your legal name.

Required Petition for A Legal Name Change

Section 68.07 of the Florida Statutes lays out the requirements of a name change.

You must file a petition with the court that is signed under oath and includes, among other things, the following information:

  • That you live in the county where you are petitioning for a name change;
  • Whether you have ever gone through bankruptcy;
  • Whether you have ever been arrested for or charged with a crime;
  • Whether you have ever been required to register as a sexual predator or a sexual offender;
  • Whether you have ever been successfully sued;
  • That you are not seeking a name change for any illegal or ulterior purpose; and
  • That your civil rights have never been suspended or, if they have, that your rights have been fully restored.

By the way, just because you have gone through bankruptcy, lost a lawsuit, or have been arrested does not necessarily prevent you from obtaining a name change.

Background Check for A Legal Name Change

You will also need to have your fingerprints electronically scanned for a background check.  The check is conducted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and FBI to confirm that the information in your petition is correct.

Name Change Lawyer

Once you have filed your petition and completed the background check, in most counties you will need to go in front of a judge to complete the process.  The judge swears you in, and you provide testimony and any evidence that is requested to prove up your petition.

Because the paperwork involved in the name change process can be onerous, and because most people do not have a lot of experience dealing with the court system, you should consider having a name change lawyer by your side throughout the process.

You may relate to Manafort’s daughter’s desire “to separate myself and my work from public perception that has nothing to do with the person that I am.”

We can help you do that.

Podcast: In-Depth Interview on Collaborative Divorce

Recently, author and collaborative attorney Adam B. Cordover appeared on the “Talking Brains” podcast for an in-depth interview on on collaborative divorce.

The podcast is hosted by Dr. Stephanie Sarkis, a therapist in Tampa specializing in ADHD, anxiety, and gaslighting.

In this wide-ranging interview, Stephanie and Adam discuss, among other things, the following:

  • The differences between the traditional court-based divorce and collaborative divorce;
  • The benefits of collaborative divorce for spouses;
  • The benefits of collaborative divorce for children;
  • The benefits of collaborative divorce for professionals;
  • The success rate of collaborative divorce;
  • What happens when spouses cannot reach an agreement;
  • Mosten, Forrest, & Cordover, Adam, Building A Successful Collaborative Family Law Practice (ABA 2018);
  • The International Academy of Collaborative Professionals;
  • The Florida Academy of Collaborative Professionals;
  • Next Generation Divorce; and
  • Tampa Bay Collaborative Trainers.

You can listen to the podcast below:

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Is There A Better Way To Divorce?

Divorce is never easy.  I oftentimes hear people going through the stages of grief when discussing divorce, as if a loved one has died.  And, in a very real sense, divorce does signify the death of a relationship.

But imagine if, when a loved one died, you then picked a battle and entered a very public adversarial court system.  Your every move is scrutinized by a lawyer looking to portray you in the very worst light.  You are subjected to depositions and court hearings and a wide-net fishing expedition through all of your personal and financial matters.  And, all of this could be exposed to public scrutiny, as hearings and the court file are open for public viewing.

All of this, while you are experiencing the grief and trauma of death.  In this case, the death of a relationship.

There has got to be a better way to divorce, right?  To avoid the public indignity of an entrenched fight, right?

Fortunately, there are alternatives.  One alternative, which in this lawyer’s opinion is best for most families, is collaborative divorce.

Non-Adversarial Process

Collaborative divorce is a non-adversarial process.  Each spouse retains a separate attorney, and the two attorneys are there solely for the purpose of reaching an out-of-court agreement.  In fact, the collaborative attorneys are prohibited by law, once a collaborative process is started, from fighting in court.

Imagine that, attorneys helping clients reach a peaceful resolution.  The attorneys spend no time, no energy, and no money on opposition research, motion practice, or demonizing either spouse.

Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

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