Tag Archive for: dissolution of marriage

Can I Get A Discount For Virtual Divorce Legal Services?

If you are facing divorce and have done your research, you probably realize how expensive divorce can be.  Not only are you charged for your attorney’s time spent engaging in the actual legal work, but it is also common practice for you to be charged for travel time to go to hearings, mediation sessions, or Collaborative Divorce meetings at the lawyer’s regular hourly rate.  Further, firms that practice mainly in person incur additional expenses including leasing larger office space, renting additional equipment, and purchasing additional office snacks, drinks, and supplies.  And, of course, those expenses get passed on to you, the client.

But what if you were comfortable working with your lawyer through Zoom, telephone calls, e-mails, and other virtual means, and you did not feel the need to meet in person?  Since it ends up costing less for the law firm, shouldn’t you get a discount for virtual divorce legal services?

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How to Smartly Negotiate Your Divorce

Divorce is undoubtedly one of life’s most challenging experiences, requiring emotional resilience and practical decision-making. When navigating the complex terrain of divorce negotiations, a strategic and smart approach can make all the difference. In this blog post, we’ll explore three key principles to help you smartly negotiate your divorce and pave the way for a more amicable and satisfactory resolution.

Focus on the Big Things, Not the Small Things

It’s easy to get caught up in the minutiae of divorce proceedings, arguing over every detail from who gets the newly purchased air fryer to who keeps the television. However, a smart negotiator knows the importance of focusing on the big picture. Prioritize the key issues that will significantly impact your post-divorce life, and don’t sweat the small stuff.

Consider the division of larger assets, child support, alimony, and child custody as primary areas of focus. By concentrating on these critical aspects, you’ll streamline the negotiation process and avoid unnecessary emotional turmoil over trivial matters. Remember that keeping your eye on the big picture is key, and being willing to let go of smaller items can lead to a more expedient and less emotionally taxing divorce.

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Short Video: Can A Divorce Be Collaborative?

We at Family Diplomacy are a Collaborative Law Firm serving clients virtually throughout Florida and with offices in Tampa, Saint Petersburg, and Sarasota.  We get asked all of the time whether a divorce can even be Collaborative.  This short video (about 3 minutes in length) attempts to answer that question.

You can find a transcript of the video below:

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Title Photo: A Humane Divorce

A Humane Divorce Option: Collaborative Family Law

Introduction

Divorce and family law matters are notorious for their adversarial nature, fostering an environment of conflict and animosity. However, there is a more humane alternative known as Collaborative Family Law or Collaborative Divorce. In this blog post, we will explore three points that make Collaborative Divorce a preferable option for many families in Florida.

A Private Alternative to Public Courtroom Battles

One of the key advantages of Collaborative Divorce is the private and confidential nature of the process. Unlike traditional litigation, where personal matters are dissected in open court, Collaborative Divorce takes place in a private Zoom room or the private conference rooms of attorneys or other team members. This setting allows for open, honest, and transparent communication between the parties involved. By keeping discussions privileged and confidential, families can protect their privacy and avoid having intimate, personal details entered into the public record.

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Reality Check: Collaborative Divorce is Still Divorce

I am a huge proponent of the Collaborative Divorce process.  It offers more privacy, more support, and less fighting than a traditional court-based divorce.  But I think there is a misperception of the process because it has the term “Collaborative” in it.  Collaborative does not mean easy.  It is still divorce, and divorce is tough.  This post explains Collaborative Divorce, provides a reality check on challenges, and also explains why everyone facing a family law issue should still look into it.

What is Collaborative Divorce?

Collaborative Divorce (also known as Collaborative Family Law, Collaborative Practice, and the Collaborative Process) starts with a simple premise:  your private family disputes should not be resolved in a public courthouse.  But, still, you and your spouse should have access to separate, independent legal advice to help you make decisions in one of the toughest moments of your life that will affect the rest of your life.

So both you and your spouse have separate lawyers in a Collaborative Process.  But unlike traditional attorneys, we Collaborative Lawyers focus solely on helping you reach an out-of-court agreement.  This means that no time, energy, or money will be focused on gearing up for a court battle.  The Collaborative Lawyers’ interests are aligned with your interests:  If we help you reach an agreement, we succeed; if the lawyers cause unnecessary fighting and you are unable to reach an agreement, we get fired (this is known as the “Disqualification Clause“).

Fortunately, the vast majority of Collaborative Divorce matters come to a full resolution.  In my experience, 90%+ of Collaborative matters have concluded with a full agreement in place.  So though we can never guarantee that you and your spouse will reach an agreement, chances are that you will.

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Video: FACP is Diversity

At the 2022 conference of the Florida Academy of Collaborative Professionals (“FACP”), I had the honor of participating in the filming of a short video showcasing FACP’s commitment to inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility.

Per its website, FACP is

Florida’s statewide organization of lawyers, financial, and mental health professionals whose mission is to guide families to peaceful divorce using the Collaborative Divorce Process.

Our vision is to create a culture in which the Collaborative Process is the prevailing method for the resolution of disputes beginning with family law and evolving into all other areas of law.

You can find the video, and a transcript, about the FACP, Collaborative Divorce, and diversity below. Read more

Short Video: Collaborative Divorce

Have you heard about Collaborative Divorce?  If you are looking for an alternative to the divorce court battles that have plagued Florida’s families, this form of private dispute resolution should be on your list to research.

This short video (less than 3 minutes) lays out the basics of Collaborative Divorce, and you can also find a transcript below:

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“Never Leave It In The Hands Of The Judges”

Several years ago, I wrote a blog post revealing that I am a huge fan of mixed martial arts and comparing the Unified Family Courts with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (“UFC”).  The main point of the post: both the Unified Family Courts and the UFC may be interesting to observe, but I would never want to be a participant in either as it would be too painful.

Interestingly, the UFC has a maxim that applies to most family law situations: “Never Leave It In The Hands Of The Judges.”  In both situations, this applies because no matter how persuasive you are, or how hard you fight, when you let judges decide your fate, you are giving up control of the outcome and your future.  Further, as wise and dedicated as judges are, they can get things wrong.

Fortunately, there are alternatives, including uncontested divorces, mediation, and Collaborative Divorce.  This post will focus on why you want to reach an out-of-court agreement rather than rely on contested court hearings.

Judges Are Not Your Friend

It is common at the end of UFC fights, when all rounds are over but before the judges have made a decision, for both fighters to raise their hands in victory.  Both fighters’ cornermen will tell them that they won.  Then the decision comes, and one fighter loses.  That fighter’s cornermen will tell them that they were robbed.  They were not.  They left it in the hands of the judges.

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ChatGPT on Collaborative Divorce

Does ChatGPT Get Collaborative Divorce Right?

We have been hearing a lot about ChatGPT over the last few months.  For those unaware, ChatGPT is a form of artificial intelligence that uses plain language to produce an answer to a prompt.  According to a ChatGPT FAQ page, “These models were trained on vast amounts of data from the internet written by humans, including conversations, so the responses it provides may sound human-like. It is important to keep in mind that this is a direct result of the system’s design (i.e. maximizing the similarity between outputs and the dataset the models were trained on) and that such outputs may be inaccurate, untruthful, and otherwise misleading at times.”

So, does AI get Collaborative Divorce correct?

The Prompt

The way that the program works is that, in plain language, you ask a question or make a request, and it produces a response.  For these purposes, I entered the following prompt: “Explain Collaborative Divorce in a blog post.”  The first response provided 6 paragraphs of text.  To simplify things, I refined my query, and I asked it to respond in 3 paragraphs.

Below is the result.

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LAWYER MAGAZINE: Who Is Disqualified if a Collaborative Divorce Terminates

As a family law attorney who specializes in Collaborative Divorce and Family Law, I can confirm what research shows:  Collaborative Divorce tends to be successful.

What Is Collaborative Divorce?

Collaborative Divorce is a private, non-adversarial form of dispute resolution where you and your spouse retain separate, specially trained lawyers who focus solely on helping you reach agreements that work for your family.  Oftentimes, you will have the help of a Neutral Collaborative Facilitator who specializes in family dynamics, childhood development, and communication to help keep the process moving forward.  You will also usually retain a Neutral Financial Professional who brings efficiency to the process and can help give both of you the information and tools you need to feel comfortable with whatever agreement you reach.

If a Collaborative Divorce does not result in an agreement, or you or your spouse wish to discontinue the process, then it Terminates.  This means that both attorneys and all professionals must withdraw from your matter (in other words, they are “Disqualified”), and you can move on with successor litigation lawyers, if you wish.

As I mentioned earlier, Collaborative Divorce tends to be successful, and it is relatively rare for the process to Terminate.  A study by the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (“IACP”) found that 86% of cases ended in a full agreement, with an additional 2% ending in reconciliation between the spouses.  Research by the Florida Academy of Collaborative Professionals has found similar results.  In my personal practice, 90+% of my Collaborative matters have ended in a full agreement between the spouses.  Of course, we cannot guarantee that your Collaborative Divorce will be successful; however, chances are that it will be.

Who Is Disqualified if a Collaborative Divorce Terminates

 

There has been some questions in our local community as to who is Disqualified if a Collaborative Divorce Terminates.  I recently wrote an article for The LAWYER Magazine, a publication of the Hillsborough County Bar Association, on the topic.  You can find an excerpt below:

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