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.

Explanation of Collaborative Process

Explanation of Collaborative Process Consent Form

When you come into my office to learn about collaborative divorce, I want to make sure that you understand the process.  Yes, collaborative divorce helps families day in and day out, but there are potential negatives that you need to know, as well.  Further, Rule 4-1.19 of the Florida Bar Rules of Professional Conduct requires me to help ensure you have informed consent before entering the collaborative process.

Accordingly, I will sit down with you to discuss all aspects of collaborative practice.  At the end, I will provide you with an Explanation of Collaborative Process Consent Form to sign.  I have designed this form, but it is based on one created by Robert J. Merlin, an attorney in South Florida who was the point person for the adoption of Rule 4-1.19 by the Florida Supreme Court.

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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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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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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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Video: Bounds of Advocacy and Collaborative Divorce

Earlier this year, the Florida Bar Family Law Section released a new version of the Bounds of Advocacy.  The Bounds of Advocacy promote a higher level of professionalism than the base level required by the Florida Bar.

In the video below, Joshua Jones, a Pensacola family law attorney and president of West Florida Collaborative Law, Inc., discusses the relationship between the Bounds of Advocacy and collaborative divorce.  The video is produced by the Florida Academy of Collaborative Professionals.  Further, professionals interested in learning to offer collaborative services to client in Pensacola November 30-December 1 can learn more and register here.

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Cordover Receives Avvo Client Choice Award

Collaborative family law attorney and Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Law Mediator Adam B. Cordover received the 2018 Avvo Client Choice Award.  The Award is provided to attorneys who receive five or more 4+ Stars in a calendar year (all Adam’s reviews have been five out of five stars).

Cordover receives 2018 Avvo Client Choice Award

Below are the reviews in 2018 that lead to the award:

Mr.

Adam was and still has been a tremendous resource to me with my tumultuous divorce process. He was honest and fair – he put me in my place when I got too riled up during the process and provided me a real picture of what needed to be done – and what the potential outcomes could be.

Adam was not an attorney that billed crazy hours and prolonged the case – he was steadfast and eager to help me – he did not ever drag things out like a lot of attorneys do just for some extra billing.

My case ended – and even after we had completed our business relationship, Adam continues to demonstrate his compassion towards me and my challenges with living as a divorced single father – not for the money – he seems to do it because he has taken ownership of my post-divorce challenges at times.

I highly recommend anyone going through a divorce to speak to Adam first about a collaborative approach to marriage termination – as well as all family legal matters.

While no one wants to face the challenges or realities that come with divorce, Adam will show you the truth before anyone else knows it – and help you plan for your future.

Posted by Kenneth on Avvo.

Five out of five stars.

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Video: CPA Discusses Collaborative Divorce

Those who have been through the old-style divorce court may have trouble associating divorce with empathy.  This is especially true when it comes to financial issues.  And yet, collaborative divorce professionals see families act with kindness and empathy all of the time.

In the video below, Certified Public Accountant and collaborative financial professional Ari Harper discusses a recent case where empathy made all of the difference:

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