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.
Have you heard of Collaborative Divorce? If you are considering dissolving your marriage, it is an option to take control of your future and keep your private life outside of the public courtroom.
But how does Collaborative Divorce work?
In the video below from CBS Pittsburg, Collaborative Professionals Paula Hopkins and Marlene Boas explain the Collaborative Process.
You have worked hard for your reputation. The last thing that you need is for your personal details to become fodder for colleagues, competitors, or the public. But is there a more private way to go through divorce and protect your reputation?
There is. And it is called Collaborative Divorce.
Collaborative Divorce: The Basics
In Collaborative Divorce, you and your spouse have separate lawyers. The lawyers are there solely for the purpose of helping you reach an out-of-court agreement. The lawyers cannot be used for fighting in court or engaging in media battles between you and your spouse.
When you think of divorce, you probably think of court battles. War of the Roses or Kramer vs. Kramer may come to mind. Just the thought of your entire life being scrutinized and laid bare in a public courtroom is probably enough to send shivers down your spine.
But you may have heard of an alternative: “Collaborative Divorce.” What exactly is it, and can divorce even be “Collaborative?”
Collaborative Divorce: A Simple Idea
Collaborative Divorce starts with a simple idea: your family doesn’t belong in court. You are likely not looking to make an enemy out of your spouse; you probably just want to move on with your life without harming your children (if any).
And so in Collaborative Divorce, you and your spouse have your own separate, independent attorneys to counsel each of you. But the attorneys are there solely for the purpose of helping you reach an out-of-court agreement. Your Collaborative Lawyers are prohibited from fighting in court on your behalves. This means that no time, money, or energy is spent on you and your spouse trying to tear one another apart for the purposes of preparing for trial.
Your attorneys’ jobs are to help you find a resolution that works for your family.
Family Diplomacy: A Collaborative Law Firm proudly announces the opening of an office in the heart of Downtown St. Petersburg. We do so on June 1, 2020, as we celebrate the tenth anniversary of our firm and the fifth anniversary of our dedication to resolve family disputes exclusively out of court.
Saint Petersburg Family Law Office
Our new office is located at 475 Central Avenue, Suite 205, St. Petersburg, Florida 33701. We are in the historic S.H. Kress & Co. Building, situated on the corner of Central Avenue and 5th Street South. The Kress building was built in 1927, influenced by the Beaux-Arts movement, and served as a five and dime store until 1981. The building is located within the Downtown St. Petersburg Historic District, and it was added to the National Register of Historic Places on October 1, 2001.
We also maintain our office in Downtown Tampa, located at 412 E. Madison Street, Suite 824, Tampa, Florida 33602.
Additionally, we are accepting matters throughout Florida. Read more
You may be stuck in your house, but, with Online Collaborative Divorce, that does not mean that you have to be stuck in your marriage.
Online Collaborative Divorce brings together the best parts of consensual dispute resolution with technology that makes the process more convenient than ever. And we can help you if at least one spouse (whether you or your partner) has lived in any part of Florida for the last 6 months.
The Basics of Collaborative Divorce
In 2017, the Florida Legislature passed the Collaborative Law Process Act. In the Collaborative Law Process Act, the Legislature declared that “It is the policy of this state to encourage the peaceful resolution of disputes and the early resolution of pending litigation through a voluntary settlement process. The collaborative law process is a unique nonadversarial process that preserves a working relationship between the parties and reduces the emotional and financial toll of litigation.” Section 61.55, Florida Statutes.
If things are not going well in your marriage, whatever the circumstances, you want to avoid a nasty divorce. You have probably seen how recriminations, dirty court tactics, and endless fighting have ruined friends and family. Heck, you may still be feeling the consequences of your parents’ nasty divorce. And you are looking to spare yourself and your family the same trauma.
Fortunately, there are alternatives. One growing alternative is Collaborative Divorce.
Working Together to Avoid a Nasty Divorce
In Collaborative Divorce, you and your spouse work together – outside of the court system – to find resolutions that work for your family. You and your spouse have separate lawyers for independent support, but the lawyers have one mission: find solutions. Collaborative Lawyers are unlike traditional lawyers in that the law prohibits them from fighting in court. This means that no time, energy, or money will be spent on frivolous lawsuits, opposition research, or damaging depositions.
Instead, Collaborative Lawyers encourage cooperation so you and your spouse can move on with your lives without harming your kids. Further, Collaborative Lawyers provide you with the independent legal advice you need to feel comfortable that you are making informed decisions.
The Patch of West Hartford, Connecticut, recently ran an article where Susan Busby, a Collaborative Family Law attorney, discusses the difficult topic of custody during the holidays. The article, titled “Collaborative Divorce: A Route to Happier Holidays,” urges families to learn about the Collaborative Process as way to keep children out of disputes between parents. You can read an excerpt of the article below:
The holiday season is often stressful, and for those going through or having just gone through a divorce or separation, the season can induce even more stress, intensify negative emotions, and accentuate how much their lives have changed. But it is entirely possible to have a joyous and peaceful holiday season, even during a big change in family structure.
By choosing a collaborative divorce, separating parents can create the holiday plan together to determine best options for everyone, focus on the well-being of the children, develop new cheerful traditions, and lay the foundations for having a good working relationship post-divorce.
“By coming to an agreement collaboratively, both parents have input into the holiday schedule instead of having a judge telling parents what the holidays will look like,” said Susan Busby, an attorney with the Connecticut Collaborative Divorce Group (CCDG). CCDG is a Hartford-based group of professionals that aims to keep divorcing couples and their children out of court using a method of family conflict resolution called Collaborative Divorce. “In a Collaborative Divorce, the values and traditions of the parents and the children can be honored and not used as leverage between the parents to get something else, which can happen in traditionally litigated divorces. Working out the holiday plan together is better for the children and for parents. Then everyone can relax and enjoy the holidays.”
Divorce is tough. Your marriage is falling apart and the foundation upon which you thought you could depend is no longer there. Rather than fling yourself into the chaotic and adversarial divorce court system, you have alternatives. One structured alternative is Collaborative Divorce.
In Collaborative Divorce, you and your spouse retain separate attorneys to guide you along the way. Unlike litigation lawyers, these attorneys’ only purpose is to help you reach an agreement as amicably and efficiently as possible. In fact, the process prohibits Collaborative Attorneys from engaging in contested court proceedings. Because of this, you do not have to worry about motion practice, depositions, or dirty trial tactics. You can just focus on reaching a resolution that is best for your future.
Here in Tampa Bay, a neutral Collaborative Facilitator usually aids you. The Facilitator has a specialty in communications, family dynamics, and childhood development. When you and your spouse seem to get stuck in the arguments of the past, the Facilitator will help get things back on track and focused on the future. Further, if you have children, the Facilitator will help you craft a parenting plan tailored to your children’s specific needs.
To ensure transparency, you may retain a neutral Financial Professional. The Financial Professional helps you and/or your spouse understand the extent of your estate. He or she will then help you develop options for best dividing it. He or she can also help you develop budgets so you know that you will have a financially sustainable future after divorce.
Every Collaborative Divorce is Different
Every Collaborative Divorce is different. However, as a trainer, many of my students (who are lawyers, financial professionals, mental health professionals, mediators, and others) find it helpful to have a step-by-step guide to Collaborative Divorce. This is meant only as a sample. The more Collaborative Cases I am involved with, the more they deviate from this guide; in truth, just as there is no “typical” family, there is no “typical” Collaborative Divorce.
When you come into my office to learn about collaborative divorce, I want to make sure that you understand the process. Yes, collaborative divorce helps families day in and day out, but there are potential negatives that you need to know, as well. Further, Rule 4-1.19 of the Florida Bar Rules of Professional Conduct requires me to help ensure you have informed consent before entering the collaborative process.
Accordingly, I will sit down with you to discuss all aspects of collaborative practice. At the end, I will provide you with an Explanation of Collaborative Process Consent Form to sign. I have designed this form, but it is based on one created by Robert J. Merlin, an attorney in South Florida who was the point person for the adoption of Rule 4-1.19 by the Florida Supreme Court.
- Virtual Introductory Collaborative Law Training August 2021 July 13, 2021
- Collaborative Divorce: An Unbundled Legal Service June 22, 2021
- Family Diplomacy Opens Sarasota Office June 8, 2021
- Bradenton Adult Adoption Featured on Ellen DeGeneres Show May 25, 2021
- Video: How Does Collaborative Divorce Work? March 30, 2021