COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE AND FAMILY LAW IN FLORIDA. No matter how you look at it, divorce and family law matters are difficult to go through. Expectations of stability are shattered,

mistrust grows, and bills pile up. And then the litigation begins. Attorneys file and serve petitions, counterpetitions, requests to produce, and motions to compel. Each party hires dueling mental health experts to convince a judge that he or she should have more time with the children. Privacy is eliminated as each party’s life is probed and publicly questioned so that one side may gain a tactical advantage.

But there is a different way. A more civilized way. And it is called Collaborative Family Law (also known as Collaborative Divorce or Collaborative Practice).

We are a Collaborative law firm dedicated to helping people resolve personal disputes without destroying their families. We encourage the use of the Collaborative Family Law model in divorce, child custody, child support, alimony, post-judgment, prenuptial, and most other family law cases.  Further, Adam B. Cordover is an internationally-recognized leader in Collaborative Practice, a trainer who teaches other professionals how to help families Collaboratively, and author of an upcoming American Bar Association book on Collaborative Law.

Maintaining Privacy In Your Divorce

Just because you are going through divorce does not mean you have to give up your privacy.  Yes, in traditional divorce, proceedings are open to the public.  Sure, most Florida divorce lawyers will tell you that you have to file your divorce in the county where you last resided with your spouse, making it easier for family, neighbors, and business competitors to snoop on you.  And, historically, you have been required to file financial affidavits in a court file that anyone can access.

Fortunately, there are alternatives to all of these issues to help maintain your privacy.

Collaborative Divorce – Private Negotiations

Collaborative Divorce is a private form of dispute resolution where discussions take place in discreet conference rooms or via Zoom rather than in a public courtroom.

In the Collaborative Process, you and your spouse each have your own, separate lawyers to provide each of you with independent legal advice.  Your lawyers are prohibited from fighting in court; if court action is needed, your Collaborative Lawyers are fired.  This aligns the incentives of both lawyers and both spouses to focus on reaching an agreement rather than stir up trouble and engage in costly trial work.  And the vast majority of Collaborative Divorce matters are able to reach a full resolution; about 92% of Collaborative matters we have been involved in have been successful.

Oftentimes, you and your spouse will have additional support in your Collaborative Divorce.  A neutral Collaborative Facilitator, who specializes in communication, family dynamics, and childhood development, will help you navigate and overcome the emotional impediments to divorce.  Additionally, if you have children, the Facilitator will help craft a parenting plan tailored to your kids’ needs rather than have a cookie-cutter parenting plan based on a bunch of legal factors.

Further, you may have a Financial Neutral on your Collaborative Divorce team.  We have found that many divorce discussions get stuck because one spouse just does not understand the family finances or fears they are being taking advantage of.  The Financial Neutral, who is typically a CPA or financial advisor, works with both spouses to efficiently gather needed financial information and help even the playing field so both of you can feel that you are making informed decisions.  This helps play a big role in getting through the “fight, flight, or freeze” instincts that can overtake a person going through divorce.

Choosing Where To File Your Divorce for Privacy

Most Florida divorce lawyers will tell you that you need to file your divorce in the county where you and your spouse last resided together.  And that is because most Florida divorce lawyers focus their practice on contested trial work; if you file a contested matter in the wrong venue, and your spouse objects, then you have to go through a costly legal fight and you may then need to pay to have your matter transferred to the “correct” county.

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Applications for IACP Board Due February 18, 2024

The International Academy of Collaborative Professionals is accepting applications to join its Board.  If you are a professional who is interested, you can learn more and apply here (you will need to be logged in to your IACP account to apply).  The applications are due by February 18.

I have had the privilege of serving on the IACP Board since 2018, and my second and final term expires this year.  I am excited for those that will just be beginning their Board service journey.  Accordingly, here is my pitch to you:

Do you want to help shape the future of Collaborative Practice?  Then I would strongly urge you to consider applying to be a member of the IACP Board.  I think Collaborative Practice is still in its infancy, and in my experience the work that we do on the Board has far reaching effects for families and professionals around the world.  I found that I can make a difference, and so can you.

-Adam B. Cordover

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The 4 Phases of Collaborative Divorce

Embarking on a journey toward resolution of your divorce can be a daunting task, especially when faced with challenging family matters. Collaborative Divorce offers a unique approach that emphasizes cooperation and mutual understanding. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the four essential phases of Collaborative Divorce, also known as the 4 D’s of Resolution, to guide you through the Collaborative Process.

1. Decide to Enter the Collaborative Process

A. Understand what is required of you: The first step in any Collaborative Matter is to grasp the expectations. Familiarize yourself with the Collaborative Process, its principles, and the commitment it demands.  It is also important to understand that your attorneys and other professional team members are only there for the purpose of reaching an out-of-court agreement, and all of the professionals are disqualified from ever engaging in contested court battles.

B. Review and sign the Participation Agreement: Formalize your commitment by reviewing and signing the Collaborative Participation Agreement. This document outlines the rules and guidelines, ensuring that you and your spouse are both on the same page.  This is also the document that, once signed, formally commences the Collaborative Process.

C. Commit to the Process: Collaborative Practice works best when both spouses are committed to reaching a resolution. Make a conscious decision to fully engage in the process, recognizing that cooperation and open communication are key elements in reaching a resolution.

2. Disclose all Relevant Information

A. Decide what information is needed: Transparency is a cornerstone of Collaborative Practice. Your professional team will help you determine the financial and other disclosure that you and your spouse will need to make informed decisions later on.

B. Assign information gatherer(s): Delegating responsibilities is an integral part of Collaboration. Assign individuals to gather the necessary information, fostering a sense of shared responsibility.  Some of the information may be gathered by a Neutral Financial Professional, and other information will be gathered by the spouse that has the best access to that information.

C. Review shared information: Once gathered, you will thoroughly review the shared information. This step sets the stage for open discussions and helps in understanding the full scope of the situation.  As oftentimes one spouse knows a lot more about the family finances than the other spouse, this step helps put the spouses closer to equal footing so they are working off the same information.

D. Work through differences: Differences are inevitable, but Collaborative Divorce is about overcoming them. You will work through any disparities in the shared information.  Your professional team can help identify what additional information is needed, including what types of appraisals or valuations may be helpful to help bridge any differences in understanding.

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Virtual Introductory Collaborative Divorce Training – March 2024

In the world of family law, where emotions can be overwhelming, imagine helping families go through a divorce peacefully and with a team to support you and the family. What if you could work with professionals you know, like, trust, and respect? Learn to offer Collaborative Divorce services in this highly interactive Virtual Introductory Interdisciplinary Collaborative Family Law training, designed for attorneys, mental health professionals, accountants, financial advisors, mediators, and anyone wanting to help families in a better way.  The training takes place on every Wednesday in March 2024, from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm Eastern Time.  It is not jurisdiction-specific, and past trainings have included participants from all around the globe.  This training will focus primarily on the One Coach (also known as Neutral Facilitator or Neutral Mental Health Professional) model of Collaborative Practice.

 

Working Together Online

This training happens online, on Zoom. You can join from home, work, or wherever you’re comfortable. It takes place on four Wednesdays in March 2024, from 1:00 to 5:00 PM Eastern Time. This flexibility makes it easy for busy professionals to attend.

Learning from Different Perspectives

The training covers Collaborative Law from legal, emotional, and financial angles. Whether you’re a lawyer, mental health professional, financial expert, or mediator, this training helps you understand how to resolve issues related to family law in a new and supportive way.

Meet the Experts

The training features experts like Adam B. Cordover, J.D., M.A., a collaborative attorney; Jeremy S. Gaies, Psy.D., a licensed psychologist; and Kristin E. DiMeo, CPA, ABV, and J. David Harper, CPA, ABV, PFS, CFF, CBA, CVA, both accountants. All members of Tampa Bay Collaborative Trainers, they bring their vast and diverse experience to help you learn the different ways to help families through difficult issues.

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Child Support in Florida

Child support in Florida is the financial obligation aimed to provide a fair and consistent means of sharing the costs of raising a child between separated parents. There’s a Collaborative Law process that offers an alternative way to address child support matters. This approach emphasizes cooperation, open communication, and prioritizing your child’s well-being. In this post, we’ll take you through the fundamentals of child support in Florida and the benefits of pursuing child support solutions through the Collaborative Process.

CALCULATING CHILD SUPPORT

In Florida, you’ll find child support guidelines laid out in Florida Statutes §61.30. You’ll notice that the calculation takes into account key factors like your income and your partner’s income, the number of children involved, and the time each of you spends with them. It’s essential to understand that the state utilizes a specific formula incorporating these elements to calculate the exact amount of child support owed.  Though you may deviate from these calculations under certain circumstances, the child support guidelines determine the default amount you can expect to pay or be paid.

CONSIDERING YOUR INCOMES

Remember, both your incomes play a pivotal role in calculating child support. It’s worth noting that not all types of income are straightforward (for example, income from a private business). Additionally, it’s important to keep in mind that if either of you is voluntarily unemployed or not fully utilizing your earning capacity, income may be attributed to you based on your potential earning capacity.

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Sarasota Collaborative Divorce Office – We Moved!

We are excited to share the new location of our Sarasota Collaborative Divorce Office.  Family Diplomacy: A Collaborative Law Firm is now located at 1858 Ringling Boulevard, Suite 110, Sarasota, Florida 34236.  Our beautiful new location is in the Bank of Tampa building right on the edge of Downtown Sarasota.  Our Sarasota office offers, among other services, Collaborative Divorce, Mediation, Prenuptial Agreement, Unbundled Legal Services, Adoption, and Legal Name Change.  We offer a warm, supportive environment for those in the LGBTQ+ community facing family law matters, as well as anyone else looking for private, amicable solutions  when facing tough decisions affecting your family.

Sarasota Collaborative Divorce Office

Our Sarasota office is available by appointment.  We also offer a discounted rate for those who do not feel the need to meet in person and are comfortable interacting via Zoom videoconferencing software, telephone, e-mail, and other virtual means.   This also enables us to represent clients throughout the State of Florida, regardless of location.  Family Diplomacy: A Collaborative Law Firm practices exclusively in out-of-court dispute resolution, because we care about Florida’s families.

Below are some pictures of our new Sarasota office (click a picture to enlarge):

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How to Smartly Negotiate Your Divorce

Divorce is undoubtedly one of life’s most challenging experiences, requiring emotional resilience and practical decision-making. When navigating the complex terrain of divorce negotiations, a strategic and smart approach can make all the difference. In this blog post, we’ll explore three key principles to help you smartly negotiate your divorce and pave the way for a more amicable and satisfactory resolution.

Focus on the Big Things, Not the Small Things

It’s easy to get caught up in the minutiae of divorce proceedings, arguing over every detail from who gets the newly purchased air fryer to who keeps the television. However, a smart negotiator knows the importance of focusing on the big picture. Prioritize the key issues that will significantly impact your post-divorce life, and don’t sweat the small stuff.

Consider the division of larger assets, child support, alimony, and child custody as primary areas of focus. By concentrating on these critical aspects, you’ll streamline the negotiation process and avoid unnecessary emotional turmoil over trivial matters. Remember that keeping your eye on the big picture is key, and being willing to let go of smaller items can lead to a more expedient and less emotionally taxing divorce.

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LGBTQ+ Friendly Family Law Firm in Florida

If you are a member of the LGBTQ+ community in Florida, you might have found yourself wondering about the best path forward when it comes to family law matters. We get it—navigating the legal landscape can be confusing and overwhelming, and now is not the time for a lawyer to judge you or your family. But fear not! At Family Diplomacy, we’ve got your back. Our mission is to provide you with an open, friendly, and supportive environment as we work together to tailor LGBTQ+ Family Law solutions that perfectly suit your unique needs.  And we help families throughout the State of Florida.

Crafting Harmony through Collaborative Family Law

Picture this: you’ve got personal family matters to resolve, but you’re dreading the thought of entering a public adversarial court system. Guess what? You don’t have to go that route. Family Diplomacy recommends a much more peaceful alternative for Florida and Tampa Bay LGBTQ+ spouses and partners: Collaborative Family Law.

Here’s the scoop: in this process, attorneys are on board solely to help you reach private resolutions. We’re actually barred from fighting before a judge. Plus, there’s a facilitator—usually a trained mental health professional—who’s there to keep everyone focused on what’s best for the family, including any children involved. This person ensures that communication remains respectful and productive. And since financial matters can be complex, especially for LGBTQ+ relationships, a financial professional might step in to guide you through the intricacies of assets and debts.

Meet the Collaborative Guru: Adam B. Cordover

Let us introduce you to an intellectual leader in collaborative practice—Adam B. Cordover. He’s not just any lawyer; he’s an internationally-recognized leader and trainer in collaborative practice. He’s even presented on the use of collaborative practice for LGBTQ+ family law matters to professional and civic groups around the U.S., Canada, France, and Israel, and across Florida including in Tampa, Sarasota, and Orlando, Jacksonville, Boca Raton, and beyond. Adam is also co-author of an American Bar Association book on collaborative family law, a member of the Board of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals, and recipient of the inaugural Visionary Award from the Florida Academy of Collaborative Professionals. You’re in good hands!

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Short Video: Can A Divorce Be Collaborative?

We at Family Diplomacy are a Collaborative Law Firm serving clients virtually throughout Florida and with offices in Tampa, Saint Petersburg, and Sarasota.  We get asked all of the time whether a divorce can even be Collaborative.  This short video (about 3 minutes in length) attempts to answer that question.

You can find a transcript of the video below:

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Virtual Introductory Interdisciplinary Collaborative Divorce Training September 2023

What would it feel like to help clients divorce peacefully, privately, and with dignity? Wouldn’t it be great to consistently work with professionals whom you know, trust, like, and respect? Learn how to offer Collaborative services and get involved in your Collaborative Law community in this highly engaging virtual Introductory Interdisciplinary Collaborative Family Law training.

This course is intended for attorneys, mental health professionals, financial professionals, mediators, and others who believe there is a better way to help clients through difficult times.  It will focus mainly on the One Coach/Neutral Facilitator/Neutral Mental Health Professional model of Collaborative Practice.  As this training is not jurisdiction-specific, professionals around the world are welcome!

This training meets the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals’ Minimum Standards for Introductory Interdisciplinary Collaborative Practice Trainings and interim protocols permitting virtual trainings.

 

Where

This is a virtual training that will take place 100% on Zoom.

When

September 6, 2023 12:00 – 4:00 PM*
September 13, 2023 12:00 – 4:00 PM*
September 20, 2023 12:00 – 4:00 PM*
September 27, 2023 12:00 – 4:00 PM*

*Please note all times are listed for Eastern time zone

Florida CLE credits available (and may be transferable to your jurisdiction).

Location:

This will be a virtual training and take place 100% on Zoom.