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Podcast: Forrest “Woody” Mosten on Building a Collaborative Practice

Forrest “Woody” Mosten, an internationally renowned collaborative professional and mediator and author of the Collaborative Divorce Handbook, The Complete Guide to Mediation, and Unbundling Legal Services, was recently in Tampa to put on a workshop sponsored by Next Generation Divorce.

During a lunch break at the workshop, Woody spoke with Dr. Garin Vick for his podcast show, Divorce Without Destruction.  Woody and Garin discussed how attorneys, mental health professionals, and financial professionals could build a full-time peacemaking practice.  Again, this was recorded during a lunch break of a two-day conference, so the audio is not the greatest, but Woody offers great advice for divorce professionals who want to help their clients via collaborative practice and other non-litigation methods.

This podcast may be of interest not only to professionals, but also to divorcing spouses to get a glimpse of the passion that collaborative professionals tend to have for helping their clients:

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Freezing High Conflict Divorce Litigation for the Collaborative Process

I strongly suggest that any person who is in the initial stages of a Florida divorce consider engaging in the collaborative process from the very beginning.  This simply means that each spouses hires an attorney solely for the purpose of helping them reach a divorce agreement.

The attorneys are contractually prohibited from wasting time and money on preparing for trial (90% or so of all divorce cases settle, yet millions and millions of dollars are spent each year preparing for a trial that rarely happens).  Discussions are held in a private, respectful, and transparent atmosphere, and other professionals are brought in as needed to tend to the parties’ financial and emotional needs.

But some clients are resistant to the collaborative process because of perceived cost issues or they feel they need to have a gunslinger to take out their spouse.  And many attorneys will not engage in the collaborative process because litigation work is pretty profitable or they have not invested the time and money in taking an introductory collaborative training.

And so there are plenty of divorce battles going on in the Florida court system.  It is not uncommon for those battles to go on for two, three, four, or more years, and for the parties to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in attorneys’ fees, expert witness fees, deposition fees, document production fees, forensic evaluation fees, court reporter fees, and so on, and feel no closer to a final resolution of their divorce.

But there is something that can be done to change the dynamics.

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Advanced Training: Get More Collaborative Cases!

Are you an attorney, mental health professional, financial professional, or mediator who wants to build a profitable and satisfying collaborative practice?  Do you want more collaborative cases? Next Generation Divorce has a training geared to you:

Woody Mosten is Coming to Tampa February 27-28, 2015.  Click Here To Learn More

Forrest “Woody” Mosten has an international reputation for high quality Mediation and Collaborative training from introductory courses to advanced supervision for highly experienced peacemakers. He maintains an intense focus on cutting edge issues in law and the craft of conflict resolution skill building, and enjoys helping other professionals build their own profitable practices.

Woody Mosten’s Training is an Approved Continuing Education Provider by the California State Bar CLE & Family Law Specialization, the California Psychological Association Accrediting Agency, and the California Board of Behavioral Sciences. Most courses are approved by the Association for Conflict Resolution and may qualify for credit by other agencies and organizations throughout the world.

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Florida Collaborative Divorce: A Flowchart

Many people come to my Tampa office because they heard collaborative divorce is private, respectful, conducive to co-parenting, and usually quicker than the traditional courtroom divorce.  But they do not quite understand logistically how the collaborative process works.

The first thing to understand is that each party is represented by his or her own attorney whose sole purpose is to help the parties reach a settlement.  The attorneys are contractually barred from engaging in costly, damaging contested court battles.  If parties want to fight one another in the court system, they must choose different litigation attorneys.

A neutral facilitator, who usually is licensed in a mental health profession, is involved in most collaborative cases.  The facilitator not only helps the parties (and attorneys) focus on the future rather than rehash the arguments of the past, but he or she also teaches the parties communication and dispute resolution techniques that will help them and their families long after the divorce is finalized.

A neutral financial professional is also oftentimes used to efficiently ensure financial transparency between the parties, to develop personally-tailored options for support and the division of assets and debts, and to help the clients budget to give them the best chance for financial security once their divorce is finalized.

Some folks are visual learners, and so my firm has created a flowchart that shows how a collaborative case might proceed.  Please understand that, depending on the facts of your case and the needs of your family, your collaborative divorce process may be customized differently:

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What Your Florida Divorce Lawyer May Not Be Telling You

The vast majority of divorce attorneys in Tampa Bay and around Florida are good, hardworking people with their clients’ best interests always at mind.  However, there is one divorce option that more and more financial and mental health professionals agree is the best way to handle a family law matter, and yet many attorneys will not tell their clients about it:  collaborative divorce.

Collaborative divorce is a private form of dispute resolution where each spouse hires their own attorney only for the purposes of helping to negotiate a marital settlement agreement. Collaborative attorneys are contractually prohibited from going to trial or bringing any contested issues to be decided by a judge.

Trial Divorce = Big $$ for Attorneys

This is one reason why there are a lot of divorce trial lawyers who are against collaborative divorce:  attorneys make a lot of money billing time for trial-related activities such as depositions, interrogatories, witness preparation, exhibit analysis and selection, and trial itself.  Trial attorneys bill this time even though they know that 95% of all divorce cases end in settlement, even sometimes after trial but right before a judge issues a ruling.   Read more

Tampa Same Sex Divorce and Collaborative Practice

Same Sex Couple Seeks Divorce in Florida

Same Sex Couple Seeks Divorce in Florida

I have recently been involved in a Tampa family law matter that has made a couple of headlines lately. I represent a client who married her wife in Massachusetts, they moved to Florida, and ultimately they decided that their same sex marriage was irretrievably broken. The women reached a full settlement on all their marital issues, and, as the media has reported, now they are asking the court to grant them a divorce.

Related: In a Florida Child Custody Case, Does It Matter that I am Gay?

Related: Five Legal Steps Florida LGBT Parents Should Take

What has gotten far less attention is the fact that the women reached a full settlement agreement and formed a united front using the private collaborative family law process.

Unlike the more familiar divorce proceedings where parties hire gunslinger lawyers and have their dirty laundry aired in public courthouses, these women each retained a collaboratively-trained attorney (Ellen Ware and myself) who are experienced in respectful and interest-based negotiations. We attorneys were hired specifically to focus on reaching an amicable settlement in private offices; we both agreed that we would not inflame the situation by “building a case” against the other party and bringing arguments between the clients into the public courtroom.

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What Can I Do To Reduce The Costs Of My Florida Divorce?

Going through divorce in Florida can be a very expensive proposition.  No matter which path you choose for your divorce, you are going to be spending money.  However, there are things you can do to reduce your costs.

1.  Agree to the Collaborative Family Law Process

The first thing you and your spouse can do is retain collaboratively-trained attorneys and agree to use the collaborative family law process.  In the collaborative process, you and your spouse each hire separate attorneys for the sole purpose of helping you reach a settlement.  Collaborative attorneys are prevented by contract from engaging in expensive contested courtroom proceedings.  Accordingly, they focus their attention – and your resources – on helping you and your spouse come to an agreement, rather than preparing for trial or playing litigation games.

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Video: Tampa Collaborative Law Streamlined Protocols Training Overview

Attorneys, psychologists, licensed mental health counselors, marriage and family therapists, accountants, financial advisers, and mediators interested in being trained to offer cost-effective collaborative practice services to family law and other clients will have the opportunity March 20-22, 2014, in Tampa, Florida.  Next Generation Divorce and the Tampa Bay Collaborative Divorce Group are sponsoring a 3-day basic and advanced training in the Streamlined Protocols of Collaborative Law.

Vicki Carpel-Miller, one of the collaborative trainers, provides an overview of the streamlined protocols training in the video below (after the jump):

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St. Petersburg and Clearwater Bar Associations Hold CLE on Collaborative Divorce

The urge for a more humane way to practice divorce law has hit Pinellas County.  The days of pitting husband versus wife, mother versus father in an adversarial courtroom divorce have both attorneys and clients pining for a private, healthier alternative to deal with family law issues.

And so the Saint Petersburg Bar Association and Clearwater Bar Association have invited Adam B. Cordover, Esq., John L. Sullivan, IV, CDFA, and James B. Morris, Jr., Ph.D., to discuss the interdisciplinary collaborative divorce model at their annual Family Law Update.  The 2014 Family Law Update is approved for 4.0 general continuing legal education hours and 3.5 hours for purposes of Marital and Family Law certification.

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Collaborative Divorce Comes To Sarasota & Manatee Counties

From Brian Pope, MBA, CDFA, and Cindy Barry, Esq.:

I am extremely pleased to announce that there is a new group in town!  The “Next Generation Divorce” group for the Twelfth Judicial Circuit has been formed as an expansion of “Next Generation Divorce” of Tampa Bay.

Next Generation Divorce

As the President of the Twelfth Judicial branch of the Next Generation Divorce group (Cindy Barry, not me), it is my sincere pleasure to extend an invitation to the bench and Bar of the Twelfth Judicial Circuit to attend a free presentation on collaborative law on February 6, 2014, from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.  in the Palm Room at the Sarabay Country Club located at 7011 Willow Street, Sarasota, Florida, 34243.  There will be a variety of complimentary Hors d’Ouerves and a cash bar available for libations.

Our guest speaker is the President of the Tampa Bay area “Next Generation Divorce”, Mr. Adam Cordover, Esq.   He will be sharing the successes of the collaborative law practices in the greater Tampa Bay area and answering questions on how to incorporate collaborative law into your practice.   Of course, there will be a social hour immediately following the presentation.

It is an exciting time as “Next Generation Divorce” is an active and professional group of Attorneys, Mental Health Professionals and Financial Professionals that have been collaboratively trained to help remove court cases from the traditional Court system.  You can visit our website at www.nextgenerationdivorce.com.

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