Adam B. Cordover of Family Diplomacy: A Collaborative Law Firm is now a recipient of Avvo.com’s 2015 Clients’ Choice Award.
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
When people come to my office for the first time to discuss their Tampa Bay divorce, they are often nervous because they want to end their marriage, but they don’t want to have the knock-down, drag-out court battles that they frequently hear about in the news. They simply want to resolve their family disputes as quickly, privately, and respectfully as possible, while also ensuring that they do not get the raw end of the deal.
And so many of these spouses are pleasantly surprised when I let them know that there is an option which fits all of these criteria: collaborative divorce.
The first and most important defining feature of collaborative divorce is that the parties each have their own attorney, and everyone agrees that they will not let a judge decide disputed issues. In fact, the attorneys are contractually barred from filing any contested motions or bringing matters that have not yet been agreed upon before a judge. This means that the parties and their attorneys will not be trying to tear each other down in a public forum and say things that cannot go unsaid. Rather, they meet in private offices on the parties’ schedules and agree that all discussion held in the meetings will be confidential until a comprehensive settlement is reached.
There are times when a Florida judge orders – or an opposing counsel requests – a person to answer standard family law interrogatories. So what are standard family law interrogatories?
In the 1970’s, Florida followed the trend of other states by adopting “no fault divorce.” Prior to this, parties needed to allege a reason for a divorce, such as infidelity, domestic violence, or impotence. Once Florida become a no fault state, all that needed to be alleged was that the marriage was irretrievably broken.
But what if one party denies that the marriage is irretrievably broken? Florida Statutes section 61.052(2)(b) addresses this possibility:
It is important for every person who is served with a Florida petition for dissolution of marriage to respond to the petition in a timely manner.
The petition, which sets out what a person wants a judge to do (such as dissolve the marriage, rule on custody, order child support, and divide marital property and debt), is generally personally served by a sheriff’s deputy or other authorized process server. Once served, the respondent has 20 days to provide an answer to the petition and agree or disagree with the petitioner’s requests and allegations.
Divorce consultant Deborah Moskovitch discusses her high-conflict divorce and the lessons she learned in the following video from Family Matters:
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