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Sarasota/Manatee Courts Issue COVID-19 Parenting Procedures

Twelfth Circuit Chief Judge Kimberly C. Bonner last week signed an Administrative Order on Parenting Procedures in the Family Division During COVID-19 Pandemic.  The Administrative Order covers divorce and parenting/custody matters in Sarasota, Manatee, and DeSoto Counties.

In essence, the Administrative Order directs parents to follow any parenting plan that has been established and cooperate in making alternate arrangements if exchanges were to take place at now-closed schools or daycare.  If a parenting plan has not yet been established, the Order directs parents to permit and facilitate access of children to the other parent. The Administrative Order reads, in part, as follows:

WHEREAS, the World Health Organization has declared the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) a pandemic, the Governor of Florida has declared a state of emergency exists, and the Surgeon General and State Health Officer have declared a public health emergency exists, and the Florida State Courts must take steps to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on legal proceedings and participants in those legal proceedings; and

WHEREAS, since March 17,2020, the Florida Supreme Court has issued various Emergency Administrative Orders found at https://www.floridasupremecourt.org/Emergency , which include ordering the cancellation or postponement of all non-essential in-person hearings, and this court entered Administrative Order 2020-4.2, setting forth COVID-19 Emergency Procedures and Mission Essential Functions; and

WHEREAS, on April 1, 2020, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis entered Executive Order 20-91, referred to as a “Safer at Home” order, which orders all persons in Florida to limit their movements and personal interactions outside of their home to only those necessary to obtain or provide essential services or conduct essential activities; and

WHEREAS, it is necessary to reduce the number of “emergency” filings and hearings in family division cases until non-essential in-person hearings resume; and

WHEREAS, it is in the best interests of the parties and child(ren) that parents continue to perform their duties and responsibilities of co-parenting, share the additional responsibilities of parenting through this time, and that the parties comply with all existing court orders and court rules; and

NOW THEREFORE, pursuant to the authority vested in me as Chief Judge of the Twelfth Judicial Circuit of Florida, under Rule 2.215 of the Florida Rules of Judicial Administration, it is hereby ORDERED:

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Lawyer Review: Collaborative Divorce Success Story

We strive to meet our clients’ needs during difficult times, and we are especially appreciative when clients share how we were able to help them.  A client recently left a glowing review for Collaborative Divorce services that we provided.  The review was left on Avvo.com.

Please note that every family’s situation is different, and we cannot promise the same or similar results for your family.

Collaborative Divorce Success Story

I highly recommend Adam Cordover. I had not heard of a collaborative divorce before my therapist recommended I speak with Adam. When I first met with him, he was warm and shared excellent information. I never felt pressured to do anything. I was seeking a divorce after a LONG marriage. There were bumps in the road but with the assistance of Adam and the team he assisted us put together, my former spouse and I were able to conclude a collaborative divorce and remain friends. The team approach allowed my ex-husband and I to turn what could have been a disaster into a continued mutual friendship. From start to finish, approximately 6 months, Adam and Jennifer were there for me every step of the way.

(emphasis added)

-Anonymous

Five Stars

If you are looking for a more peaceful way to go through divorce, we are here to help.


Adam B. Cordover is a leading Collaborative Divorce Lawyer in Tampa Bay who helps clients throughout the State of Florida.  He is an American Bar Association published author and member of the Board of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals.  Adam has taught lawyers, mental health professionals, financial professionals, and mediators throughout the United States, Canada, France, and Israel how to offer Collaborative services.

Online Divorce Mediation in Florida

Are you heading towards divorce during the coronavirus pandemic?  Are you social distancing and not wanting to risk infection by meeting for negotiations in person?  Would you prefer to proceed with divorce without getting lawyers involved?  Then Online Divorce Mediation may be the best option for you.

The Basics of Divorce Mediation

In Divorce Mediation, whether virtual or in person, you and your spouse together hire a neutral mediator.  As the mediator, I cannot make any orders or force you into an agreement.  Rather, I help facilitate an agreement between you and your spouse.  I can use my general experience and knowledge of the law to provide you with information and help you develop options, though (because I am not acting in the role of a lawyer) I cannot provide legal advice.

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Tips for Divorcing During Coronavirus

These are not normal times, and coronavirus is changing every aspect of life from working, to shopping, to interacting with family.  Divorce is not immune to these changes, and the way you approach divorce must, by necessity, be different.

Here are tips on divorcing during coronavirus.

Take a Breath

Divorce is difficult enough in the best of times.  During coronavirus, you are likely facing two traumas at once:  the end of a relationship with someone you thought you would be with forever, and the upending of your life and inability to go out and be with friends who would otherwise console you.  You or your spouse may begin doing things or saying things that seem completely out of character.

Take a breath.  A deep breath.  Try to center yourself.  This is especially important if you have children who are looking to you to be their rock.  They, too, are probably frightened, and need you to be stable for them when there is much instability around them.

And even if you do not have children, it is important that you make wise decisions now.  After all, these decisions will likely affect the rest of your life.  And you may find that these decisions may be easier if you just stop and take a deep breath first.

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Online Collaborative Divorce

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.

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Avoiding a Nasty Divorce

Avoiding A Nasty Divorce in Tampa Bay

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.

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Top 3 Tips To Prepare For Divorce

Now may be a tough time if you are considering divorce.  Your mind is racing, your future is unsettled, and your questions are unanswered.  But rest assured, there are things that you can do to prepare for divorce.

Here are the top 3 tips for you to consider when you are preparing for divorce.

1.  Gather Your Financial Documents

As part of any divorce process, you and your spouse are going to need to divide your marital assets and debts.  These could include funds in checking accounts, savings accounts, money market accounts, retirement accounts, investment accounts, and other accounts.  These would also include liabilities such as mortgages, credit cards, charge cards, and loans.  Your marital assets might also include cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, or Ethereum.  You should make sure that you have access to (or make copies of) documents, statements, and/or screenshots reflecting all of these so you and your lawyer know what there is to divide.

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Podcast: Collaborative Coach on Women Mean Really Business

Earlier this year, Melissa Sulkowski, R.N., M.A., L.P.C., of Erie, Pennsylvania, appeared on the Women Really Mean Business Podcast.  Melissa is a Collaborative Coach, what we in Florida call a “Collaborative Facilitator.”  She helps families who are going through the Collaborative Divorce Process remain focused on what is most important to them rather than the arguments of the past.  She helps clients work on the emotional aspects of divorce and get through the tough moments so they can move on with their lives.  Melissa also helps families develop parenting plans that are tailored to their children’s needs and developmental stages.

Additionally, Melissa is trained as a mediator and works with families in various forms of alternative dispute resolution.  Her goal, regardless of which process is utilized, is to help families amicably reach agreements and stay outside of the adversarial court system.

You can find the audio of Melissa’s appearance on Women Really Mean Business at the following link: https://womenreallymeanbusiness.com/2019/09/melissa-sulkowski-women-really-mean-business-048-dont-let-a-crisis-force-you-into-self-care

Below is a partial transcript, edited for clarity:

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Article: Collaborative Lawyer Discusses Holiday Custody Schedule

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.

Connecticut Collabortative Divorce Group“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.”

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Cordover Speaks at Reimagining Advocacy Conference

Family Diplomacy managing attorney Adam B. Cordover recently spoke at the Reimagining Advocacy conference held at Stetson University in Gulfport, Florida.  Cordover spoke on the topic of “Training Divorce Lawyers to Become Peacemakers.”

Center for Excellence in Advocacy

The conference was sponsored by Stetson University Law School’s Center for Excellence in Advocacy.  According to the Center’s website:

The Center for Excellence in Advocacy promotes the continuing development of unparalleled advocacy skills through teaching, scholarship and research.

Stetson Law’s Advocacy Resource Center offers instruction to a worldwide audience through online video presentations by experts in the field of advocacy.

The Stetson Law community is committed to the concept of the complete advocate – one who commands a superior understanding of the law, the ability to persuasively present evidence, and the humanity to know when to do the right thing.

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