General information on dissolution of marriage

What Is Simplified Dissolution of Marriage?

Are you a spouse in Florida who is simply looking for a divorce?  Do you not have any minor children in common with your spouse?  Do you both agree that there are no alimony or child support issues to deal with?  Are all of your marital assets and debts already divided?

If so, you may be eligible for Florida’s Simplified Dissolution of Marriage.

Basics of Simplified Dissolution of Marriage

Simplified Dissolution of Marriage is meant to be a quick and easy way to divorce.  It is authorized by Rule 12.105 of the Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure.  Most people going through divorce do not qualify for a Simplified Dissolution of Marriage.  If you and your spouse meet the following criteria, then you may qualify:

  • You and your spouse do not have any minor or dependent children in common;
  • Neither your nor your spouse are pregnant;
  • Either you or your spouse has resided in Florida for at least six months prior to filing for divorce (only one spouse is required to have been a resident of Florida);
  • Both of you agree that your marriage is irretrievably broken and cannot be fixed (by, for example, having the judge order you to attend marital counseling);
  • Neither you nor your spouse are seeking alimony;
  • By agreement, you have already divided all assets and debts, or you agree that there are no assets and debts to divide;
  • Both you and your spouse are willing to waive your right to trial and appeal; and
  • Both you and your spouse are willing and able to appear together at the final hearing.

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Sarasota/Manatee Courts Issue COVID-19 Parenting Procedures

Twelfth Circuit Chief Judge Kimberly C. Bonner last week signed an Administrative Order on Parenting Procedures in the Family Division During COVID-19 Pandemic.  The Administrative Order covers divorce and parenting/custody matters in Sarasota, Manatee, and DeSoto Counties.

In essence, the Administrative Order directs parents to follow any parenting plan that has been established and cooperate in making alternate arrangements if exchanges were to take place at now-closed schools or daycare.  If a parenting plan has not yet been established, the Order directs parents to permit and facilitate access of children to the other parent. The Administrative Order reads, in part, as follows:

WHEREAS, the World Health Organization has declared the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) a pandemic, the Governor of Florida has declared a state of emergency exists, and the Surgeon General and State Health Officer have declared a public health emergency exists, and the Florida State Courts must take steps to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on legal proceedings and participants in those legal proceedings; and

WHEREAS, since March 17,2020, the Florida Supreme Court has issued various Emergency Administrative Orders found at https://www.floridasupremecourt.org/Emergency , which include ordering the cancellation or postponement of all non-essential in-person hearings, and this court entered Administrative Order 2020-4.2, setting forth COVID-19 Emergency Procedures and Mission Essential Functions; and

WHEREAS, on April 1, 2020, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis entered Executive Order 20-91, referred to as a “Safer at Home” order, which orders all persons in Florida to limit their movements and personal interactions outside of their home to only those necessary to obtain or provide essential services or conduct essential activities; and

WHEREAS, it is necessary to reduce the number of “emergency” filings and hearings in family division cases until non-essential in-person hearings resume; and

WHEREAS, it is in the best interests of the parties and child(ren) that parents continue to perform their duties and responsibilities of co-parenting, share the additional responsibilities of parenting through this time, and that the parties comply with all existing court orders and court rules; and

NOW THEREFORE, pursuant to the authority vested in me as Chief Judge of the Twelfth Judicial Circuit of Florida, under Rule 2.215 of the Florida Rules of Judicial Administration, it is hereby ORDERED:

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Lawyer Review: Collaborative Divorce Success Story

We strive to meet our clients’ needs during difficult times, and we are especially appreciative when clients share how we were able to help them.  A client recently left a glowing review for Collaborative Divorce services that we provided.  The review was left on Avvo.com.

Please note that every family’s situation is different, and we cannot promise the same or similar results for your family.

Collaborative Divorce Success Story

I highly recommend Adam Cordover. I had not heard of a collaborative divorce before my therapist recommended I speak with Adam. When I first met with him, he was warm and shared excellent information. I never felt pressured to do anything. I was seeking a divorce after a LONG marriage. There were bumps in the road but with the assistance of Adam and the team he assisted us put together, my former spouse and I were able to conclude a collaborative divorce and remain friends. The team approach allowed my ex-husband and I to turn what could have been a disaster into a continued mutual friendship. From start to finish, approximately 6 months, Adam and Jennifer were there for me every step of the way.

(emphasis added)

-Anonymous

Five Stars

If you are looking for a more peaceful way to go through divorce, we are here to help.


Adam B. Cordover is a leading Collaborative Divorce Lawyer in Tampa Bay who helps clients throughout the State of Florida.  He is an American Bar Association published author and member of the Board of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals.  Adam has taught lawyers, mental health professionals, financial professionals, and mediators throughout the United States, Canada, France, and Israel how to offer Collaborative services.

Online Divorce Mediation in Florida

Are you heading towards divorce during the coronavirus pandemic?  Are you social distancing and not wanting to risk infection by meeting for negotiations in person?  Would you prefer to proceed with divorce without getting lawyers involved?  Then Online Divorce Mediation may be the best option for you.

The Basics of Divorce Mediation

In Divorce Mediation, whether virtual or in person, you and your spouse together hire a neutral mediator.  As the mediator, I cannot make any orders or force you into an agreement.  Rather, I help facilitate an agreement between you and your spouse.  I can use my general experience and knowledge of the law to provide you with information and help you develop options, though (because I am not acting in the role of a lawyer) I cannot provide legal advice.

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A Paralegal at a Collaborative Family Law Firm

By Jennifer Gunnin, Florida Registered Paralegal at Family Diplomacy: A Collaborative Law Firm

I have been a paralegal at a collaborative family law practice for the past seven years. I am grateful to be helpful to families during a difficult time. People need and appreciate our sensitivity, compassion, and consideration for every aspect of what they are going through, including the financial strain.

I help clients going through collaborative divorce, but I also assist clients who need help in mediation, or direct negotiations or other unbundled services. Moreover, I am there for clients who use our law firm for adoptions or legal name changes.

One of the most important services I offer to clients as a paralegal when someone hires our law firm is a lower hourly rate. Clients are relieved to learn that I will be drafting most of their legal documents and financial disclosures at a lower hourly rate than the attorney.

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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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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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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).

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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Alimony Tax Deduction: Is It Too Late To Divorce in 2018?

Have you heard the news about the alimony tax deduction?  It is going away for divorces finalized after December 31, 2018.  But fear not!  If you and your spouse act smartly and quickly, you can still lock in your alimony tax deduction.

What is the Alimony Tax Deduction?

The alimony tax deduction is currently enshrined in 26 U.S. Code section 215.  It states that alimony (as opposed to child support or distribution of property) can be tax deductible to the payor and taxable to the payee.  This means that the person who pays alimony will pay less in taxes, and the person who receives alimony will pay taxes on it as if it were regular income.

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