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Tampa Prenuptial Agreements: Collaborative-Style

Potential clients come into my Tampa office all the time to learn about prenuptial agreements, how they can protect interests, and how they can provide for a more certain future.

For all these clients, I suggest that they utilize the collaborative method when developing a prenuptial agreement with their future spouse.

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Tampa Bay Association for Marriage and Family Therapy Goes Collaborative

On May 10, Collaborative Divorce Attorney Adam B. Cordover spoke to the membership of the Tampa Bay Association for Marriage and Family Therapy on “Collaborative Family Law:  Offering a Healthier Alternative to Tampa’s Families.”

The presentation was part of a continuing education seminar on Alternatives to Divorce Litigation.

Much of the presentation centered around the principles of collaborative family law:

  1. A pledge not to litigate;
  2. Full disclosure of relevant information by the parties; and
  3. Customized results that take into account the highest priorities of both spouses and their children.

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Tampa Bay Collaborative Divorce In A Weekend

I recently came across an article by Sandra Young and Brian Garvey, collaborative divorce lawyers in Illinois, who offer what they refer to as a “Divorce Weekend.”  This is a fascinating model of collaborative divorce which offers the option of a quick settlement, and there is no reason why a weekend collaborative divorce cannot take place here in Tampa Bay.

This is how the model works:

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Tampa Collaborative Divorce: A More Child-Friendly Divorce

The fact is that divorce is difficult.  Emotions are raw, family life is uprooted, and life becomes strained.

And children are caught in the middle.

Attorneys in Tampa Bay litigated cases are often obligated to not only focus on showing their clients in the most positive light but also shining the spotlight on the opposing parties’ parental flaws. This further frays relationships with consequences to the children.

But there is an alternative.  Collaborative divorce is a process where the clients agree not to air their dirty laundry in the court system but instead to negotiate respectfully in private offices of attorneys and other professionals.  A neutral facilitator, who usually is a licensed mental health professional, is utilized to ensure that the clients focus on the future and on what is most important:  the children.

I recently found a Chicago Tribune article which discusses collaborative divorce and it’s focus on children:

If you’ve gone through a divorce, you know how challenging it can be to keep your emotions in check. Add children to the mix and the damage can be devastating. But experts say more divorcing couples are seeing the benefits of putting down the boxing gloves and placing their children’s needs first.

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Tampa Collaborative Divorce: What About the Cost?

I recently wrote an article for the Collaborative Divorce Institute of Tampa Bay where I relayed a question often asked by those not familiar with the collaborative process:  Is collaborative divorce only for rich people?

Below is an excerpt:

According to a four year study conducted by the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals, 87% of female participants and 47% of male participants of collaborative cases make less than $100,000.

Though the collaborative model will not be the cheapest model in all cases, it has a substantial opportunity to cost less than traditional trial practice for several reasons.

First, one of the most emotional and costliest issues in family law matters is child custody.  Attorneys in traditional litigated cases tend to draft questions to be answered under oath, set depositions, conduct research to not only put their client in the best possible light but to put the opposing party in the worst possible light, and prepare for trial.  The attorneys’ fees for each of these actions add up quite quickly.  On the other hand, all of these costs can be greatly reduced in a collaborative case with the inclusion of facilitators, who are generally trained mental health professionals, as they are able to cut through the clutter of emotionally-charged issues and bring the parties (and attorneys) to focus on the future and best interests of the children.

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Can a Filed Tampa Divorce Case Become Collaborative?

Collaborative divorce is becoming more well-known and more popular in Florida, and for good reason.  Discussions regarding custody schedules and division of assets take place in the private offices of collaborative facilitators, attorneys, or financial professionals rather than being battled in the public courtroom.   Issues are resolved using the expertise of accountants or financial planners and creativity of trained facilitators rather than the rigid dictates of the law.  Tackling the issues inherent in divorce is seen as a team effort rather than a fight to the finish.

Obviously, a case can (and should) become collaborative from the very beginning.  The parties and professionals sign a participation agreement where they commit to resolving their family law issues through the process, and they agree not to involve the court system until a full settlement is reached.

But, if a Florida divorce or other family law case has already been filed, can it later become collaborative?

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T. Boone Pickens: Collaborative Divorce Process Saved Me Millions

Collaborative divorce is a process that leverages the unique skills and talents of attorneys, financial professionals, and mental health professionals to keep private family matters out of the public arena of the courthouse, and famed billionaire T. Boone Pickens is a fan.  The following is an excerpt from the Dallas Business Journal:

Billionaire T. Boone Pickens is clearly a man who knows a good deal when he sees one.

That’s why he used a collaborative divorce approach in his recent parting of ways from his fourth wife, Madeleine.

Pickens told a room full of lawyers about his experience Friday during a lunchtime panel in Dallas.

The State Bar of Texas didn’t let me into the room for his talk, saying it was a paid, private event, but I was able to grab a couple of comments from Pickens on the way out of the Hotel Palomar.

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Collaborative Divorce Institute of Tampa Bay Elects New Executive Board

The Collaborative Divorce Institute of Tampa Bay has elected its executive board, and below are the new officers:

  • President: Christine Hearn
  • Vice President: Adam B. Cordover
  • Secretary: Lara Davis
  • Treasurer: Marie-Eve Girard
  • Marketing: David Harper
  • Membership: Jim Spicer
  • Programs: Bob Evans
  • State/Local Liason: Joryn Jenkins
  • Training: Derek Lucas

The Collaborative Divorce Institute of Tampa Bay is a group of attorneys, mental health professionals, mediators, and financial professionals dedicated to the practice of a less destructive form of family law.

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Collaborative Family Law Training Coming to Tampa in 2013

As more potential clients are learning of the benefits of the collaborative family law model as an alternative to the traditional antagonistic courtroom divorce process, demand for training has risen among practitioners.

The Collaborative Divorce Institute of Tampa Bay is responding to this demand, and it is co-sponsoring, along with the Tampa Bay Collaborative Divorce Group, training in Tampa for family law attorneys, licensed mental health professionals, and licensed financial professionals.

A basic two-day collaborative course will be held on March 21 to 22, 2013, and an advanced course will take place on March 23, 2013.  You can find a save the date flyer at the following link:

SAVE THE DATE Collaborative Training 2013

Registration forms will be sent out soon.

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Tampa Bay Business Journal Article Discusses Collaborative Divorce In Hillsborough County

The Tampa Bay Business Journal recently published an article (subscription required) on the new collaborative divorce administrative order that went into effect for Hillsborough County.  I was honored to be interviewed for the article, which included some of the following quotes:

“‘It’s pretty new in the Tampa area,’ said Adam Cordover, a family law practitioner and Collaborative Divorce Institute of Tampa Bay board member. ‘The courts are so backed up, the judge(s) are on board with an alternative to contested divorces.’

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