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A Tampa Collaborative Divorce Can Save You Money | via FamilyBlawg

I recently had an article published at FamilyBlawg.com:  A Tampa Collaborative Divorce Can Save You Money | FamilyBlawg.  Below is an excerpt:

Though the collaborative process may not be the cheapest in all cases, it has a substantial opportunity to save you money as compared to the courtroom battles we have all come to associate with divorce.

First, child issues, such as custody schedules and decision-making authority, are some of the most emotional and costliest issues in family law matters. Lawyers in courtroom cases tend to prepare interrogatories (questions) to be answered under penalty of perjury, set depositions, conduct opposition research to put the other spouse in the worst possible light, and prepare for trial. Attorneys’ invoices pile up along each stage of this process. Alternatively, these fees and costs can be greatly reduced in the collaborative process where facilitators, who usually are licensed mental health professionals, can cut through the clutter of emotionally-charged issues and bring the clients (and lawyers) to focus on the future and best interests of the children.

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Collaborative Divorce Video: A True Life Story Part 2

Just as more divorcing spouses in Tampa are seeking an alternative to the usual courtroom battles, the use of the collaborative family law process is growing around the country.  Collaborative Practice California has produced a video which follows an actual couple going through a collaborative divorce.

I previously posted Part 1 of the video.  After the jump, Part 2 of the video shows how the couple handles difficult emotional and financial issues in the collaborative process:

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Collaborative Divorce Video: A True Life Story Part 1

Like Tampa, California has seen a need for a divorce process that does not pit spouses against one another in courtroom battles.  To that end, Collaborative Practice California has produced the following video which follows an actual divorcing couple through the process of collaborative family law:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8qlrg7pe7E

Part 2 of the video to be posted within the coming days.

Like California, Tampa Bay has a group of attorneys, facilitators/coaches, accountants, and financial planners who are trained in the interdisciplinary collaborative process:

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Tampa Divorce: Adversarial versus Collaborative

If you are getting divorced in Tampa Bay, you have two main options:  Enter the adversarial system or utilize the collaborative process.  How is adversarial divorce different from collaborative divorce?

The term “adversarial” is defined by the Collins English Dictionary as “pertaining to or characterized by antagonism and conflict.”

Anyone who has gone through the traditional divorce litigation process can probably relate and understand why the Florida court system is known as an adversarial system.  A Husband and Wife are forced to face off as adversaries, with each often trying to prove the other a bad parent with poor morals and terrible financial habits, to boot.  They are treated as opposing parties with dueling experts and contrary interests.  Their personal lives are poked and prodded and laid bare in a public forum as they get judged by, well, a judge.  Mediation may be utilized, but litigation attorneys always maintain the threat to do battle in court.

Contrast this to collaborative divorce, a form of dispute resolution offered in Tampa Bay.  A Husband and Wife are treated not as adversaries, but as members of a team who, along with their collaborative attorneys and other professionals, are simply looking for options to settle differences.  A facilitator ensures that communication remains productive and that the spouses focus on their common interests, such as their children.  Often times, a neutral financial professional will help the spouses learn how to maximize the benefit of their assets while minimizing the impact of debt.

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Five Legal Steps Florida LGBT Parents Should Take

The unfortunate truth is that current Florida law is not conducive to recognizing the relationships that develop in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender families.  However, there are steps that Florida and Tampa Bay LGBT parents can take to boost the recognition of their parental rights.

Adoption

If LGBT parents are committed to raising a child together and recognizing each parent’s rights, I highly recommend that partners consider adopting each other’s children.  This helps form an unbreakable legal bond between the children and each partner.  Though the law is not completely settled in this area, the judges in Hillsborough County (including Tampa) are granting adoptions by LGBT partners.  What’s more, an adoption attorney located in Hillsborough County (such as myself) can help Florida parents come before Hillsborough County judges no matter where in Florida the parents live.

Co-Parenting Agreements

Co-parenting agreements can be great evidence that LGBT partners intend to parent children together.  It can boost the argument that “psychological parenting,” or the formation of a parent-like relationship between a child and a non-legal parent, has occurred and make it or more likely that parental rights will be recognized by Florida’s legal system.

Hyphenated or Unified Last Names

A hyphenated or unified last name can go a long way in demonstrating to the Florida legal system that partners intended to raise children together.  For example, if partner 1 is named Jones, and partner 2 is named Smith, it would be helpful to have all partners and children’s last names hyphenated or unified, so that everyone has a last name of Jones-Smith, Smith-Jones, Smones, Jith, etc.  Florida has laws to aid in legal name changes.

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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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Florida Alimony Reform: Supportive Relationships

As Senate Bill 718 dealing with alimony reform and child custody reform has passed both houses of the Florida Legislature and seems likely to be signed by Governor Rick Scott, this blog will attempt to explain how various aspects of the bill may impact Florida and Tampa Bay family law cases.

If signed, most changes (including changes to Florida’s supportive relationship laws) will go into effect July 1, 2013.

Currently, Florida law permits a person who has been ordered to pay alimony (called an “obligor”) to seek a modification or termination of his or her alimony order if he or she can prove that the spouse receiving alimony (called the “obligee”) is in a supportive relationship.  As the law stands now, even if the obligor can prove that the obligee is in a supportive relationship, a judge has the option, but is not required, to modify an alimony order.

The language of Senate Bill 718 changes the supportive relationship statute as follows (new language is underlined while deleted language is stricken):

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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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