FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is “out-of-court dispute resolution?”
Family Diplomacy practices exclusively in out-of-court dispute resolution. This means that we will help clients going through divorce or though other family law matters via private methods, such as Collaborative Practice, mediation, direct negotiations, and unbundled legal services. The only thing that we will not do is appear in contested court hearings.
Why will you not appear in contested court hearings?
Approximately 90% of all family law cases end up settling, and yet we have found that about 80% of resources in a divorce go to preparing for trial. Further, it is our experience that doing the opposition research and preparing for and posturing for trial are some of the most destructive phases of divorce. Family Diplomacy has decided to take a stand against the harm of Florida’s families and children by refusing to appear in trials and contested court hearings.
What is Collaborative Practice?
Collaborative Practice, also known as Collaborative Divorce, Collaborative Law, or Collaborative Process, is a private form of dispute resolution where the spouses agree from the beginning that they are not going to fight against one another in court. Each spouse has his and her own attorney, who are contractually barred from participating in contested proceedings, and so all energy and resources focus on the future and on helping the parties reach an agreement. Oftentimes, a neutral facilitator, who usually has a mental health background, is brought in to help with communication and parenting issues, and a neutral financial professional is brought in to help with family budgeting and financial issues. As respect and privacy are two lynchpins of the Collaborative Process, it is sometimes referred to as Divorce Without War, the Private Divorce, or the Peaceful Divorce.
What is mediation?
Mediation is another private form of dispute resolution where the parties get together with a neutral mediator to reach an agreement on all issues. The mediator cannot force either party into an agreement; he or she can only facilitate an agreement. Discussions in mediation, as in Collaborative Practice, are private and confidential, and so they cannot be directly brought up in court. A mediator cannot provide legal advice to either party. Adam B. Cordover can serve as a neutral mediator, or he can serve as an attorney representing a party going through mediation.
What are the differences between Collaborative Practice and mediation?
Though both are generally better alternatives to litigation, there are some key differences between Collaborative Practice and mediation. In Collaborative Practice, both spouses are required to have their own attorneys; in mediation, a party can represent himself or herself. If the parties in mediation are represented by attorneys, those attorneys can appear in contested court proceedings if the parties are unable to reach an agreement in mediation. In Collaborative Practice, the attorneys are contractually barred from appearing in contested proceedings, which provides everyone more of an incentive to reach a private agreement outside of court. In Collaborative Practice, the parties and their attorneys are seen as a team trying to collectively resolve their disputes; in mediation, because contested court proceedings always remain an option, negotiations can still be positional and adversarial.
What are “unbundled legal services?”
Family Diplomacy offers unbundled legal services, also sometimes called “limited representation” or “a la carte legal services.” Unbundled legal services are for those clients who do not want full legal representation, but rather want an attorney to help them with limited, one-off, discreet tasks. Examples of the unbundled legal services we offer include the following: drafting a petition for dissolution of marriage; drafting an answer to a letter; ghostwriting a letter; appearing in mediation; appearing at an uncontested final hearing.
Can you represent both spouses in a divorce?
No, we cannot represent both spouses in a divorce. This is considered a conflict of interest that cannot be waived by the parties. However, we can serve as a neutral mediator to help couples resolve disputes. Keep in mind that a mediator cannot provide legal advice to either spouse.
Will you have a divorce consultation with both spouses?
Though we cannot represent both spouses in a divorce, we are one of the few law firms in Tampa Bay willing to meet with both spouses considering divorce. We do this because we strongly feel that the sooner the spouses get on the same page and agree that they want a respectful, amicable divorce, the better each spouse and their children will be. However, before we begin a consultation, we will have both spouses sign a conflict waiver acknowledging that we can only represent one spouse. Further, we will offer the option of inviting a Collaboratively-trained attorney from another law firm so that each spouse has the option of speaking to an attorney separately during the consultation.
How much will my family law case cost me?
Every family law case is different, and, because it is impossible to determine what an opposing party will do, it is also impossible to determine what a family law case will cost. However, depending on the facts of your specific case, we generally require a non-refundable initial fee that ranges from $3,500 to $5,000, plus a costs retainer that is generally around $500. The non-refundable initial fee is not a flat fee, and you may incur expenses beyond the non-refundable initial fee.
What is your hourly rate?
Our attorneys’ current hourly rate is between $300 to $350, and the Firm currently charges $125 for paralegal time. The Firm reserves the right to charge time and a half for work performed after 6:00 p.m., on weekends, and on legal holidays. These rates are subject to change.
Do you offer flat fees?
We may offer a flat fee for certain amount of hours worked or a certain amount of meetings. However, we cannot guarantee resolution within the flat fee, and additional fees may be required.
Do you accept credit cards?
We accept major credit cards, including Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discovery.