Tag Archive for: child custody

Create Your Own Path with Collaborative Divorce

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re either going through a divorce or know someone who is. And let’s face it, divorce isn’t exactly a walk in the park. But what if I told you that in Florida there’s a way to navigate this challenging time while still preserving your self-determination and sanity? Enter: Collaborative Divorce.

Picture this: instead of duking it out in a courtroom with lawyers battling it out, Collaborative Divorce brings everyone to the table – you, your soon-to-be ex, and a team of professionals (including separate attorneys to provide each of you with independent legal advice) dedicated to finding solutions that work for everyone involved. Sounds pretty good, right? Here’s why it’s worth considering:

Collaborative Divorce Puts You in the Driver’s Seat

One of the biggest perks of Collaborative Divorce is that it empowers you to take control of your own future. Instead of leaving decisions about your life in the hands of a judge, you and your soon-to-be ex get to work together to find solutions that meet both of your needs. From dividing assets to co-parenting agreements, you have a say in it all.

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Child Support in Florida

Child support in Florida is the financial obligation aimed to provide a fair and consistent means of sharing the costs of raising a child between separated parents. There’s a Collaborative Law process that offers an alternative way to address child support matters. This approach emphasizes cooperation, open communication, and prioritizing your child’s well-being. In this post, we’ll take you through the fundamentals of child support in Florida and the benefits of pursuing child support solutions through the Collaborative Process.

CALCULATING CHILD SUPPORT

In Florida, you’ll find child support guidelines laid out in Florida Statutes §61.30. You’ll notice that the calculation takes into account key factors like your income and your partner’s income, the number of children involved, and the time each of you spends with them. It’s essential to understand that the state utilizes a specific formula incorporating these elements to calculate the exact amount of child support owed.  Though you may deviate from these calculations under certain circumstances, the child support guidelines determine the default amount you can expect to pay or be paid.

CONSIDERING YOUR INCOMES

Remember, both your incomes play a pivotal role in calculating child support. It’s worth noting that not all types of income are straightforward (for example, income from a private business). Additionally, it’s important to keep in mind that if either of you is voluntarily unemployed or not fully utilizing your earning capacity, income may be attributed to you based on your potential earning capacity.

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Can I Get A Discount For Virtual Divorce Legal Services?

If you are facing divorce and have done your research, you probably realize how expensive divorce can be.  Not only are you charged for your attorney’s time spent engaging in the actual legal work, but it is also common practice for you to be charged for travel time to go to hearings, mediation sessions, or Collaborative Divorce meetings at the lawyer’s regular hourly rate.  Further, firms that practice mainly in person incur additional expenses including leasing larger office space, renting additional equipment, and purchasing additional office snacks, drinks, and supplies.  And, of course, those expenses get passed on to you, the client.

But what if you were comfortable working with your lawyer through Zoom, telephone calls, e-mails, and other virtual means, and you did not feel the need to meet in person?  Since it ends up costing less for the law firm, shouldn’t you get a discount for virtual divorce legal services?

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How to Smartly Negotiate Your Divorce

Divorce is undoubtedly one of life’s most challenging experiences, requiring emotional resilience and practical decision-making. When navigating the complex terrain of divorce negotiations, a strategic and smart approach can make all the difference. In this blog post, we’ll explore three key principles to help you smartly negotiate your divorce and pave the way for a more amicable and satisfactory resolution.

Focus on the Big Things, Not the Small Things

It’s easy to get caught up in the minutiae of divorce proceedings, arguing over every detail from who gets the newly purchased air fryer to who keeps the television. However, a smart negotiator knows the importance of focusing on the big picture. Prioritize the key issues that will significantly impact your post-divorce life, and don’t sweat the small stuff.

Consider the division of larger assets, child support, alimony, and child custody as primary areas of focus. By concentrating on these critical aspects, you’ll streamline the negotiation process and avoid unnecessary emotional turmoil over trivial matters. Remember that keeping your eye on the big picture is key, and being willing to let go of smaller items can lead to a more expedient and less emotionally taxing divorce.

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Reality Check: Collaborative Divorce is Still Divorce

I am a huge proponent of the Collaborative Divorce process.  It offers more privacy, more support, and less fighting than a traditional court-based divorce.  But I think there is a misperception of the process because it has the term “Collaborative” in it.  Collaborative does not mean easy.  It is still divorce, and divorce is tough.  This post explains Collaborative Divorce, provides a reality check on challenges, and also explains why everyone facing a family law issue should still look into it.

What is Collaborative Divorce?

Collaborative Divorce (also known as Collaborative Family Law, Collaborative Practice, and the Collaborative Process) starts with a simple premise:  your private family disputes should not be resolved in a public courthouse.  But, still, you and your spouse should have access to separate, independent legal advice to help you make decisions in one of the toughest moments of your life that will affect the rest of your life.

So both you and your spouse have separate lawyers in a Collaborative Process.  But unlike traditional attorneys, we Collaborative Lawyers focus solely on helping you reach an out-of-court agreement.  This means that no time, energy, or money will be focused on gearing up for a court battle.  The Collaborative Lawyers’ interests are aligned with your interests:  If we help you reach an agreement, we succeed; if the lawyers cause unnecessary fighting and you are unable to reach an agreement, we get fired (this is known as the “Disqualification Clause“).

Fortunately, the vast majority of Collaborative Divorce matters come to a full resolution.  In my experience, 90%+ of Collaborative matters have concluded with a full agreement in place.  So though we can never guarantee that you and your spouse will reach an agreement, chances are that you will.

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Collaborative Divorce: An Unbundled Legal Service

Traditionally, divorce has been an adversarial process, with lawyers making arguments in front of a judge about what his or her client should get.  And yet, you are probably not looking to get in a prolonged battle with your spouse; rather, you are likely looking to move on with your life and ensure your kids do not get caught in the middle.  This is why I specialize in Collaborative Divorce, which unbundles divorce negotiations from the adversarial court process.  In effect, I am a resolution specialist.

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Video: Tampa Parents Discuss Their Collaborative Divorce

Most people think of divorce as a declaration of war.  That is not the way it has to be.  Even if there are feelings of anger during separation, parents can work together to determine how they will continue to work together towards the best interests of their children.

In the link to the video below, Anne Lucas, Board Member of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals, interviews Nikki DeBartolo and Ben Heldfond of Tampa Bay.  They went through a Collaborative Divorce, and they outlined their experience in their book, Our Happy Divorce.

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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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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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Video: Therapist Discusses Collaborative Divorce and Kids

Kids are often caught in the middle of divorce. Their parents are fighting, and many times the kids’ needs get ignored.

Fortunately, not all divorce processes are the same.  Collaborative divorce gives parents the opportunity to work in a non-adversarial setting and develop a parenting plan tailored to meet children’s needs.

In the video below, therapist Jacquie Lamb, LMHC, discusses collaborative divorce and children.  This video was produced by the Florida Academy of Collaborative Professionals.

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