Online Collaborative Divorce

You may be stuck in your house, but, with Online Collaborative Divorce, that does not mean that you have to be stuck in your marriage.

Online Collaborative Divorce brings together the best parts of consensual dispute resolution with technology that makes the process more convenient than ever.  And we can help you if at least one spouse (whether you or your partner) has lived in any part of Florida for the last 6 months.

The Basics of Collaborative Divorce

In 2017, the Florida Legislature passed the Collaborative Law Process Act.  In the Collaborative Law Process Act, the Legislature declared that “It is the policy of this state to encourage the peaceful resolution of disputes and the early resolution of pending litigation through a voluntary settlement process. The collaborative law process is a unique nonadversarial process that preserves a working relationship between the parties and reduces the emotional and financial toll of litigation.”  Section 61.55, Florida Statutes.

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Avoiding a Nasty Divorce

Avoiding A Nasty Divorce in Tampa Bay

If things are not going well in your marriage, whatever the circumstances, you want to avoid a nasty divorce.  You have probably seen how recriminations, dirty court tactics, and endless fighting have ruined friends and family.  Heck, you may still be feeling the consequences of your parents’ nasty divorce.  And you are looking to spare yourself and your family the same trauma.

Fortunately, there are alternatives.  One growing alternative is Collaborative Divorce.

Working Together to Avoid a Nasty Divorce

In Collaborative Divorce, you and your spouse work together – outside of the court system – to find resolutions that work for your family.  You and your spouse have separate lawyers for independent support, but the lawyers have one mission: find solutions.  Collaborative Lawyers are unlike traditional lawyers in that the law prohibits them from fighting in court.  This means that no time, energy, or money will be spent on frivolous lawsuits, opposition research, or damaging depositions.

Instead, Collaborative Lawyers encourage cooperation so you and your spouse can move on with your lives without harming your kids.  Further, Collaborative Lawyers provide you with the independent legal advice you need to feel comfortable that you are making informed decisions.

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Bitcoin and Divorce

Use Bitcoin to Pay for Your Collaborative Divorce

Family Diplomacy: A Collaborative Law Firm is proud to announce that we now accept Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.  If you are looking to pay for your Collaborative Divorce, Mediation, Prenuptial Agreement, Adoption, Name Change, or other family law matter via digital currency, we can help.

What is Bitcoin?

Bitcoin is a digital currency that is not controlled by any country.  According to CNET.com, Bitcoin is “decentralized — there’s no government, institution (like a bank) or other authority that controls it. Owners are anonymous; instead of using names, tax IDs, or social security numbers, bitcoin connects buyers and sellers through encryption keys. And it isn’t issued from the top down like traditional currency; rather, bitcoin is “mined” by powerful computers connected to the internet.”

Below is a short video from CBC News/Radio Canada explaining Bitcoin:

(the reproduction of this video is not an endorsement of Bitcoin or the information contained in the video nor does it constitute legal or investment advice)

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Why Florida LGBTQ Families Should Be Concerned About Simmonds v. Perkins

If your child is born while you and your spouse are married, you both will always be considered the parents of the child, right?  Well, not necessarily.  LGBTQ families should be aware of their family law rights.  And according to Simmonds v. Perkins, 247 So. 3d 397 (Fla. 2018), those family law rights may be at risk.

Facts of Simmonds v. Perkins

Simmonds v. Perkins involves a Husband, a Wife, and a Biological Father.  While married to Husband, Wife has an affair with Biological Father.  Wife gets pregnant from Biological Father.  While still married to Husband, Wife gives birth to child.

Now, Biological Father did not know that Wife was married to Husband at the time of the affair, and once Biological Father did learn about the marriage, Wife told him that the marriage was only for “immigration purposes.”

After the child was born, Biological Father would visit the child regularly and paid Wife child support.  Eventually, Biological Father filed an action in court to be named the child’s legal father, have all of the rights of a father (including ability to make decisions and right to spend time with the child), and take on the obligation of child support.

Wife files a motion to dismiss the action because the child was born during an intact marriage between her and Husband.  Traditionally, that meant that there was a strong legal presumption that Husband was the legal father of the child, and it was very difficult for any third party to challenge this status.  Husband would later join as a party and also requested that his rights be respected and the case be dismissed.

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Top 3 Tips To Prepare For Divorce

Now may be a tough time if you are considering divorce.  Your mind is racing, your future is unsettled, and your questions are unanswered.  But rest assured, there are things that you can do to prepare for divorce.

Here are the top 3 tips for you to consider when you are preparing for divorce.

1.  Gather Your Financial Documents

As part of any divorce process, you and your spouse are going to need to divide your marital assets and debts.  These could include funds in checking accounts, savings accounts, money market accounts, retirement accounts, investment accounts, and other accounts.  These would also include liabilities such as mortgages, credit cards, charge cards, and loans.  Your marital assets might also include cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, or Ethereum.  You should make sure that you have access to (or make copies of) documents, statements, and/or screenshots reflecting all of these so you and your lawyer know what there is to divide.

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A New Legal Name for the New Year

The new year can be a time for turning over a new leaf, and it may be a time when you are considering adopting a new legal name.  Whether you are looking to share a last name with a partner, honor a loved one, adjust your name to reflect your gender identity, reconnect with recently discovered family, correct errors on your birth certificate, or just plain refresh your identity, we are a collaborative family law firm that can help you petition for a new legal name.

A New Legal Name Requires a Court Judgment

You may not realize that the process of petitioning for a new legal name is a court process.  In fact, section 68.07 of the Florida Statutes lays out the legal requirement to change your name and what must be filed with the court.  Under the name change law, you must swear under oath whether, among other things, the following apply to you:

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Christmas Custody Schedule

Sample Christmas Custody Schedule

Christmas can be a difficult time when you are divorcing, as this may be the first time that you are not spending the holiday together as a family.  One way to make it a bit easier is to work with your co-parent and come up with a Christmas Custody Schedule that works for your kids.

There are many different ways in which families celebrate Christmas, and below you will find some sample language to consider for your parenting plan.

Alternating Christmas Custody Schedule

Mother will share time with the children for the entire winter break during odd-numbered years, and Father will share time with the children for the entire winter break during even-numbered years.

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End-of-the-Year Divorce MediationMediation

End-of-the-Year Divorce Mediation

Do you hope to complete your divorce process by the end of the year?  Are you looking for a divorce mediator in Tampa Bay who can meet with you and your spouse in a non-adversarial setting?

We have slots for end-of-the-year divorce mediation open throughout December (including around Christmas).  With us, not only will we work with your schedule, but you will find a different mediation experience than other local mediators offer.  Our model is based on our experience working and authoring a book with internationally-respected leaders in the mediation field.

Let me explain a bit about how we are different in that we encourage face-to-face mediation. This offers several advantages over the caucus-style mediation that is more common in Tampa Bay.

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Podcast: Collaborative Coach on Women Mean Really Business

Earlier this year, Melissa Sulkowski, R.N., M.A., L.P.C., of Erie, Pennsylvania, appeared on the Women Really Mean Business Podcast.  Melissa is a Collaborative Coach, what we in Florida call a “Collaborative Facilitator.”  She helps families who are going through the Collaborative Divorce Process remain focused on what is most important to them rather than the arguments of the past.  She helps clients work on the emotional aspects of divorce and get through the tough moments so they can move on with their lives.  Melissa also helps families develop parenting plans that are tailored to their children’s needs and developmental stages.

Additionally, Melissa is trained as a mediator and works with families in various forms of alternative dispute resolution.  Her goal, regardless of which process is utilized, is to help families amicably reach agreements and stay outside of the adversarial court system.

You can find the audio of Melissa’s appearance on Women Really Mean Business at the following link: https://womenreallymeanbusiness.com/2019/09/melissa-sulkowski-women-really-mean-business-048-dont-let-a-crisis-force-you-into-self-care

Below is a partial transcript, edited for clarity:

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Article: Collaborative Lawyer Discusses Holiday Custody Schedule

The Patch of West Hartford, Connecticut, recently ran an article where Susan Busby, a Collaborative Family Law attorney, discusses the difficult topic of custody during the holidays.  The article, titled “Collaborative Divorce: A Route to Happier Holidays,” urges families to learn about the Collaborative Process as way to keep children out of disputes between parents.  You can read an excerpt of the article below:

The holiday season is often stressful, and for those going through or having just gone through a divorce or separation, the season can induce even more stress, intensify negative emotions, and accentuate how much their lives have changed. But it is entirely possible to have a joyous and peaceful holiday season, even during a big change in family structure.

By choosing a collaborative divorce, separating parents can create the holiday plan together to determine best options for everyone, focus on the well-being of the children, develop new cheerful traditions, and lay the foundations for having a good working relationship post-divorce.

Connecticut Collabortative Divorce Group“By coming to an agreement collaboratively, both parents have input into the holiday schedule instead of having a judge telling parents what the holidays will look like,” said Susan Busby, an attorney with the Connecticut Collaborative Divorce Group (CCDG). CCDG is a Hartford-based group of professionals that aims to keep divorcing couples and their children out of court using a method of family conflict resolution called Collaborative Divorce. “In a Collaborative Divorce, the values and traditions of the parents and the children can be honored and not used as leverage between the parents to get something else, which can happen in traditionally litigated divorces. Working out the holiday plan together is better for the children and for parents. Then everyone can relax and enjoy the holidays.”

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