Last Sunday, I met a lot of people who had a lot of questions regarding their parental and family law rights. My law firm sponsored a booth at the St. Pete Pride festival in St. Petersburg, Florida, where I discussed topics such as adoptions, name changes, and LGBT child custody rights. I also had the chance to talk about collaborative family law, a private form of dispute resolution which I have used to help same sex partners amicably separate.
At the pride festival, I was wearing a metal name tag that I received from my collaborative family law practice group, Next Generation Divorce. Next Generation Divorce is comprised of over 100 caring attorneys, mental health professionals, and financial professionals dedicated to helping parents and divorcing spouses handle difficult issues amicably and with their dignity intact. I happen to be Next Generation Divorce’s current president and, needless to say, I strongly support the organization’s drive to help folks resolve disputes respectfully through the collaborative process.
Soon after I arrived at my booth on Sunday morning, a St. Pete Pride festival goer saw my name tag and said, “Next Generation Divorce. That’s really neat.”
I thanked the man, but I wasn’t really sure what he was referring to. I agree, I liked the name. In fact, last year we changed the name from the “Collaborative Divorce Institute of Tampa Bay.”
The new name was meant to signify a few things: (i) our belief that collaborative practice is the evolution of family law, from a court-based adversarial process, to mediation where court battles remain an option, to a private dispute resolution process where the parties agreed from the beginning that it is not in their family’s best interest to ever have a judge – a total stranger – decide personal issues such as child custody in a very public setting; (ii) our acknowledgement that divorce effects not just spouses but also their children, and the importance of parents maintaining a relationship even after they are divorced; and (iii) our conviction that the collaborative process will one day become the prevalent method for resolving family disputes, and that the majority of divorce attorneys will agree not to put their clients through the indignity of a court-based divorce.
A couple more people saw the name tag and had positive comments, and I thought to myself, “Wow, we are doing a really good job of spreading the word about our collaborative practice group.”
But then another person came up to me, saw the name tag, and said “Next Generation Divorce. What is that, like, gay divorce?”
And then it hit me: that’s what everyone else had been commenting on. Since Florida does not recognize same sex marriages, and some judges are refusing to grant same sex divorce, they thought that my name tag was referring to “gay divorce” as the next generation of divorce.
Though not all Florida judges are willing to dissolve marriages of same sex couples, it is still important for separating gay and lesbian partners and spouses to settle child custody issues, divide their assets and debts, and prepare for for the transition from being together to being single. I firmly believe that the collaborative process offers LGBT couples the support and privacy they need to most effectively make that transition.
Further, the collaborative process will create the settlement documents that can be used when judges do begin to regularly grant same sex divorces, which I predict will happen within the next year or two. Yes, I believe the next generation of divorce will be upon us real soon.
If you have questions about about how the collaborative process can help you or about other Florida family law rights, schedule a consultation with The Law Firm of Adam B. Cordover, P.A., at (813) 443-0615 or by filling out our contact form.