Collaborative Jewish Divorce

In these uncertain times, if you are Jewish and considering divorce, you may wonder where you can safely turn.  I have watched in horror at the chants of “Jews will not replace us” in Charlottesville in 2017, the massacres of Israeli civilians on October 7th, and the more recent intimidation of Jewish students on campuses across the U.S.  I have personally experienced people telling antisemitic jokes to me, apparently not realizing that I was Jewish.   If, with this as a backdrop, you are facing the upheaval of divorce, let us help you and your family through a Collaborative Jewish Divorce.

Collaborative Divorce – The Basics

Collaborative Divorce is a form of private dispute resolution.  You and your spouse have separate lawyers so that each of you can get independent legal advice.  What makes the Collaborative Process so different is that the lawyers focus solely on helping you reach an out-of-court agreement and are prohibited from being used to fight in court.  This means that no time, energy, or money goes to what is usually the most destructive part of divorce:  a public divorce court fight.

This is a voluntary process, so you and your spouse, and both of your lawyers, must agree to it.  Either of you can leave the Collaborative Process at any time, and it terminates in the event one of you decides you want to fight in court.  When a Collaborative Matter terminates without an agreement, the Collaborative Attorneys withdraw, and the spouses can hire litigation counsel.  However, in my experience, it is successful the vast majority of the time, with 92% of Collaborative Matters I have been involved in concluding with a full agreement.

An Interdisciplinary Team

One main reason there is such a high success rate is that we oftentimes bring in professionals to share their expertise.  There is oftentimes a neutral Facilitator, who is a licensed professional specializing in communication, family dynamics, and childhood development.  The Facilitator will help you and your spouse overcome the most challenging conversations and, if you have children, help craft a parenting plan tailored to your kids’ developmental needs.  He or she is also the team leader and helps to ensure that we are making forward progress.

There is oftentimes also a neutral Financial Professional.  One big reason that divorce negotiations stall is that one spouse is a lot more knowledgeable about finances than the other spouse.  This can create a “fight, flight, or freeze response,” as one spouse is overcome by the fear that they are making an uninformed decision that will have long-lasting consequences.  This is where the Financial Professional comes in.  He or she serves as a repository of financial disclosure, helps bring both spouses up to speed on the family’s finances, and can help develop options from a tax or financial planning perspective.   They can save money on the divorce, too, because all financial information is going through them rather than two lawyers at two lawyer rates.

A Collaborative Jewish Divorce

Within the Collaborative Process, we can develop a parenting plan tailored to your family’s religious and communal traditions.  Your parenting plan can include clauses on Jewish day school, bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah, confirmation, Jewish Community Center, Temple Youth Group, Chabad camp, Jewish sleep-away camp, or other Jewish activities, organizations, or rites of passage.

Your divorce agreement can also address a get, a document needed for a divorce to be recognized in the Jewish tradition.  The agreement to provide a get can be ratified by court order.  We can also connect you with a rabbi to help with the get.

In fact, you may even want a rabbi on your Collaborative Jewish Divorce team.  Believe it or not, there are Collaboratively-trained rabbis in Florida.  Their presence can give assurances that everything is being done in accordance with Jewish tradition, and a rabbi could even help ensure that everyone stays on their best behavior.

Conclusion on Collaborative Jewish Divorce

If you are Jewish, facing divorce, and don’t know where to turn, come see us.  Things are tough and uncertain enough, and we can help you.  And make sure to ask about a Collaborative Jewish Divorce.

Adam B. Cordover is co-author of an American Bar Association book on Collaborative Divorce.  He is a member of the Board of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals and recipient of the inaugural Visionary Award of the Florida Academy of Collaborative Professionals.  Adam has taught lawyers, judges, and other professionals how to help families via the Collaborative Process throughout the United States, Canada, Israel, and France.  We represent clients virtually throughout Florida, and we have offices in Tampa, Saint Petersburg, and Sarasota.