Tag Archive for: collaborative attorney

Divorcing Wealthy in Florida

What is the best way to end up wealthy after divorce?  It is by being even wealthier before divorce.  The truth is that divorce is not cheap.  But there are things that you can do to help preserve your wealth even if your marriage is ending.

Retain a Neutral Financial Professional

One of the biggest challenges when going through divorce is that one spouse typically knows more about the family finances than the other spouse.  If you are the spouse with the knowledge, this can be frustrating because you feel you are making reasonable proposals that would benefit your spouse, and yet your spouse is outright rejecting them or refuses to make a decision, costing your family even more time and money.  If you are the spouse without knowledge of the family finances, you feel like your spouse is trying to control you by badgering you to agree to their proposal, but how can you even make a decision that could have disastrous consequences for your long term financial future?

This is where a Neutral Financial Professional comes in.

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The Neutral Financial Professional in Collaborative Divorce: Saving Your Family Time and Money

Are you considering divorce? If so, you’re likely familiar with the emotional strain that comes with it. But amidst the whirlwind of emotions, it’s easy to overlook the importance of your family’s financial future when considering your divorce options. That’s where a Neutral Financial Professional steps in as an invaluable member of a Collaborative Divorce team. Let’s delve into what a Financial Professional does in this process and how they can help your family save money while preserving your financial well-being.

Collaborative Divorce

First and foremost, it’s essential to understand the Collaborative Divorce approach. Unlike traditional litigated divorces, where trial lawyers are retained and there is the constant threat or reality of a court battle, Collaborative Divorce emphasizes transparency, cooperation, and durable resolutions. The Collaborative Team typically comprises of specially-trained lawyers for each spouse, a team leader known as a Neutral Facilitator, and a Neutral Financial Professional. All professionals, once the process starts, can only help with out-of-court dispute resolution, and they are prohibited from being used to fight in court.  The Collaborative Approach fosters open communication, leading to more amicable resolutions and, compared to litigated court battles, significant cost savings.

Role of the Neutral Financial Professional

Now, let’s shine a light on the role of the Neutral Financial Professional on the Collaborative Divorce team. As a Collaborative Lawyer, I often emphasize the pivotal role they play in ensuring fair and sustainable financial outcomes for both spouses. Here’s how they do it:

1. Financial Clarity

Divorce involves complex financial matters, from asset division to spousal support and child support. A Neutral Financial Professional brings clarity to this complexity by helping each of you analyze your financial situation.   This is important, as it is common in divorce for one spouse to be less knowledgeable about the family’s finances than the other spouse.  This disparity in knowledge oftentimes causes one spouse to freeze in the face of making long-term decisions out of fear of making the wrong decision, causes long delays and increased fees for both spouses.

Accordingly, the Financial Professional helps explain your family’s assets, liabilities, income, and expenses to provide a clear picture of your financial standing. This clarity is crucial for making informed decisions during negotiations, preventing surprises down the road.

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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.

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Defining “Collaborative Mediation”

If you do a Google search for “Collaborative Mediation,” you will get all sorts of results, many of which have nothing to do with one another.  Many articles simply point out the differences between Collaborative Divorce and Mediation (one of my blog posts would be included with this group).

Other articles will use the term to be a synonym with Collaborative Divorce, referring to neutral professionals (typically a financial professional and licensed mental health professional) as mediators, even if those professionals have not been trained as mediators.  This seems misleading to me.   Still, other articles use the term to mean a friendly mediation or an interdisciplinary co-mediation where lawyers are optional.  I have concerns about those articles because, despite using the term “collaborative,” what they describe is not a Collaborative Law Process as defined by the Florida Statutes or Uniform Collaborative Law Act/Rules.  Again, this is misleading.

I recently was at the 12th Annual Conference of the Florida Academy of Collaborative Professionals (“FACP”) where I presented on the topic of “Collaborative Mediation: Engaging Mediators in the Collaborative Process.”  My co-presenters were Heather McArthur, co-founder and president of Collaborative Professionals of Central Florida and Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Law Mediator, and Keith Grossman, a Florida Supreme Court Approved Primary Family Mediation Trainer and president of the Southwest Florida Collaborative Professionals Association.

As I have not found a good definition anywhere else, one of my goals in co-presenting on this topic (and writing this article) was to define the term “Collaborative Mediation.”  Additionally, I hoped to shed light on this distinct model of Collaborative Practice, find a way to better engage mediators in the Collaborative Process, and offer an option under certain circumstances that could bring more clients and lawyers into the Collaborative Method.

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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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2024 FACP Conference Early Bird Rate Ends This Week

I am excited to lead a workshop at the 12th Annual Florida Academy of Collaborative Professionals (“FACP”) Conference, taking place April 18-20, 2024, in Boca Raton, Florida.  The Conference, which is dedicated to lawyers, judges, mental health professionals, financial professionals, mediators, and other professionals who want to help divorcing families in a better way, has an early bird registration rate that ends March 8, 2024.

Click Here to Learn More About the Conference and Register

 

From the Conference Website:

The theme of the conference is All the Pieces Matter: Getting the Most Out of Your Team.

Teamwork is the bedrock of the Collaborative Process. Building the right team to lead divorcing clients through difficult decision-making is critical to the success of the Collaborative matter. This year’s conference will look at how teamwork can make the impossible come true. We will share with our FACP membership unique techniques, experiences, protocols and methods colleagues and Collaborative leaders have created and applied, which have promoted more successful divorce outcomes in their Collaborative matters.

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How Does Our Collaborative Divorce Retainer Work?

If you have been considering divorce, hopefully you have looked at the private and non-adversarial Collaborative option.  If so, you may recognize that it is a better option for most families as you and your attorneys are working together to reach a resolution rather than wasting time and money on preparing for a trial that likely will never happen.  After all, 80 to 90+% of all divorces end in an agreement rather than a judge-imposed solution; accordingly, in Collaborative Divorce, the attorneys and other professionals focus solely on reaching an out-of-court agreement and are prohibited from engaging in contested court hearings.

You may have heard that lawyers generally require retainers.  Our firm believes in transparency, including transparency of retainers.  The goal of this post is to inform you of our requirements and make sure you are knowledgeable on and comfortable with how we operate.

How Our Collaborative Divorce Retainer Works

Here is how our Collaborative Divorce retainer works:  Family Diplomacy: A Collaborative Law Firm requires a non-refundable Initial Fee and a credit card or debit card to securely hold on file.  The Initial Fee typically ranges between $4,000 to $6,000.  Our hourly rate goes against the Initial Fee.  If the Initial Fee gets used up, so long as you have a valid card on file we do not require any additional retainers, unlike most other firms.  Rather, we will charge your card on a pay-as-you-go basis.

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Maintaining Privacy In Your Divorce

Just because you are going through divorce does not mean you have to give up your privacy.  Yes, in traditional divorce, proceedings are open to the public.  Sure, most Florida divorce lawyers will tell you that you have to file your divorce in the county where you last resided with your spouse, making it easier for family, neighbors, and business competitors to snoop on you.  And, historically, you have been required to file financial affidavits in a court file that anyone can access.

Fortunately, there are alternatives to all of these issues to help maintain your privacy.

Collaborative Divorce – Private Negotiations

Collaborative Divorce is a private form of dispute resolution where discussions take place in discreet conference rooms or via Zoom rather than in a public courtroom.

In the Collaborative Process, you and your spouse each have your own, separate lawyers to provide each of you with independent legal advice.  Your lawyers are prohibited from fighting in court; if court action is needed, your Collaborative Lawyers are fired.  This aligns the incentives of both lawyers and both spouses to focus on reaching an agreement rather than stir up trouble and engage in costly trial work.  And the vast majority of Collaborative Divorce matters are able to reach a full resolution; about 92% of Collaborative matters we have been involved in have been successful.

Oftentimes, you and your spouse will have additional support in your Collaborative Divorce.  A neutral Collaborative Facilitator, who specializes in communication, family dynamics, and childhood development, will help you navigate and overcome the emotional impediments to divorce.  Additionally, if you have children, the Facilitator will help craft a parenting plan tailored to your kids’ needs rather than have a cookie-cutter parenting plan based on a bunch of legal factors.

Further, you may have a Financial Neutral on your Collaborative Divorce team.  We have found that many divorce discussions get stuck because one spouse just does not understand the family finances or fears they are being taking advantage of.  The Financial Neutral, who is typically a CPA or financial advisor, works with both spouses to efficiently gather needed financial information and help even the playing field so both of you can feel that you are making informed decisions.  This helps play a big role in getting through the “fight, flight, or freeze” instincts that can overtake a person going through divorce.

Choosing Where To File Your Divorce for Privacy

Most Florida divorce lawyers will tell you that you need to file your divorce in the county where you and your spouse last resided together.  And that is because most Florida divorce lawyers focus their practice on contested trial work; if you file a contested matter in the wrong venue, and your spouse objects, then you have to go through a costly legal fight and you may then need to pay to have your matter transferred to the “correct” county.

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The 4 Phases of Collaborative Divorce

Embarking on a journey toward resolution of your divorce can be a daunting task, especially when faced with challenging family matters. Collaborative Divorce offers a unique approach that emphasizes cooperation and mutual understanding. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the four essential phases of Collaborative Divorce, also known as the 4 D’s of Resolution, to guide you through the Collaborative Process.

1. Decide to Enter the Collaborative Process

A. Understand what is required of you: The first step in any Collaborative Matter is to grasp the expectations. Familiarize yourself with the Collaborative Process, its principles, and the commitment it demands.  It is also important to understand that your attorneys and other professional team members are only there for the purpose of reaching an out-of-court agreement, and all of the professionals are disqualified from ever engaging in contested court battles.

B. Review and sign the Participation Agreement: Formalize your commitment by reviewing and signing the Collaborative Participation Agreement. This document outlines the rules and guidelines, ensuring that you and your spouse are both on the same page.  This is also the document that, once signed, formally commences the Collaborative Process.

C. Commit to the Process: Collaborative Practice works best when both spouses are committed to reaching a resolution. Make a conscious decision to fully engage in the process, recognizing that cooperation and open communication are key elements in reaching a resolution.

2. Disclose all Relevant Information

A. Decide what information is needed: Transparency is a cornerstone of Collaborative Practice. Your professional team will help you determine the financial and other disclosure that you and your spouse will need to make informed decisions later on.

B. Assign information gatherer(s): Delegating responsibilities is an integral part of Collaboration. Assign individuals to gather the necessary information, fostering a sense of shared responsibility.  Some of the information may be gathered by a Neutral Financial Professional, and other information will be gathered by the spouse that has the best access to that information.

C. Review shared information: Once gathered, you will thoroughly review the shared information. This step sets the stage for open discussions and helps in understanding the full scope of the situation.  As oftentimes one spouse knows a lot more about the family finances than the other spouse, this step helps put the spouses closer to equal footing so they are working off the same information.

D. Work through differences: Differences are inevitable, but Collaborative Divorce is about overcoming them. You will work through any disparities in the shared information.  Your professional team can help identify what additional information is needed, including what types of appraisals or valuations may be helpful to help bridge any differences in understanding.

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Virtual Introductory Collaborative Divorce Training – March 2024

In the world of family law, where emotions can be overwhelming, imagine helping families go through a divorce peacefully and with a team to support you and the family. What if you could work with professionals you know, like, trust, and respect? Learn to offer Collaborative Divorce services in this highly interactive Virtual Introductory Interdisciplinary Collaborative Family Law training, designed for attorneys, mental health professionals, accountants, financial advisors, mediators, and anyone wanting to help families in a better way.  The training takes place on every Wednesday in March 2024, from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm Eastern Time.  It is not jurisdiction-specific, and past trainings have included participants from all around the globe.  This training will focus primarily on the One Coach (also known as Neutral Facilitator or Neutral Mental Health Professional) model of Collaborative Practice.

 

Working Together Online

This training happens online, on Zoom. You can join from home, work, or wherever you’re comfortable. It takes place on four Wednesdays in March 2024, from 1:00 to 5:00 PM Eastern Time. This flexibility makes it easy for busy professionals to attend.

Learning from Different Perspectives

The training covers Collaborative Law from legal, emotional, and financial angles. Whether you’re a lawyer, mental health professional, financial expert, or mediator, this training helps you understand how to resolve issues related to family law in a new and supportive way.

Meet the Experts

The training features experts like Adam B. Cordover, J.D., M.A., a collaborative attorney; Jeremy S. Gaies, Psy.D., a licensed psychologist; and Kristin E. DiMeo, CPA, ABV, and J. David Harper, CPA, ABV, PFS, CFF, CBA, CVA, both accountants. All members of Tampa Bay Collaborative Trainers, they bring their vast and diverse experience to help you learn the different ways to help families through difficult issues.

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