Tag Archive for: divorce

Maintaining Privacy In Your Divorce

Just because you are going through divorce does not mean you have to give up your privacy.  Yes, in traditional divorce, proceedings are open to the public.  Sure, most Florida divorce lawyers will tell you that you have to file your divorce in the county where you last resided with your spouse, making it easier for family, neighbors, and business competitors to snoop on you.  And, historically, you have been required to file financial affidavits in a court file that anyone can access.

Fortunately, there are alternatives to all of these issues to help maintain your privacy.

Collaborative Divorce – Private Negotiations

Collaborative Divorce is a private form of dispute resolution where discussions take place in discreet conference rooms or via Zoom rather than in a public courtroom.

In the Collaborative Process, you and your spouse each have your own, separate lawyers to provide each of you with independent legal advice.  Your lawyers are prohibited from fighting in court; if court action is needed, your Collaborative Lawyers are fired.  This aligns the incentives of both lawyers and both spouses to focus on reaching an agreement rather than stir up trouble and engage in costly trial work.  And the vast majority of Collaborative Divorce matters are able to reach a full resolution; about 92% of Collaborative matters we have been involved in have been successful.

Oftentimes, you and your spouse will have additional support in your Collaborative Divorce.  A neutral Collaborative Facilitator, who specializes in communication, family dynamics, and childhood development, will help you navigate and overcome the emotional impediments to divorce.  Additionally, if you have children, the Facilitator will help craft a parenting plan tailored to your kids’ needs rather than have a cookie-cutter parenting plan based on a bunch of legal factors.

Further, you may have a Financial Neutral on your Collaborative Divorce team.  We have found that many divorce discussions get stuck because one spouse just does not understand the family finances or fears they are being taking advantage of.  The Financial Neutral, who is typically a CPA or financial advisor, works with both spouses to efficiently gather needed financial information and help even the playing field so both of you can feel that you are making informed decisions.  This helps play a big role in getting through the “fight, flight, or freeze” instincts that can overtake a person going through divorce.

Choosing Where To File Your Divorce for Privacy

Most Florida divorce lawyers will tell you that you need to file your divorce in the county where you and your spouse last resided together.  And that is because most Florida divorce lawyers focus their practice on contested trial work; if you file a contested matter in the wrong venue, and your spouse objects, then you have to go through a costly legal fight and you may then need to pay to have your matter transferred to the “correct” county.

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The 4 Phases of Collaborative Divorce

Embarking on a journey toward resolution of your divorce can be a daunting task, especially when faced with challenging family matters. Collaborative Divorce offers a unique approach that emphasizes cooperation and mutual understanding. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the four essential phases of Collaborative Divorce, also known as the 4 D’s of Resolution, to guide you through the Collaborative Process.

1. Decide to Enter the Collaborative Process

A. Understand what is required of you: The first step in any Collaborative Matter is to grasp the expectations. Familiarize yourself with the Collaborative Process, its principles, and the commitment it demands.  It is also important to understand that your attorneys and other professional team members are only there for the purpose of reaching an out-of-court agreement, and all of the professionals are disqualified from ever engaging in contested court battles.

B. Review and sign the Participation Agreement: Formalize your commitment by reviewing and signing the Collaborative Participation Agreement. This document outlines the rules and guidelines, ensuring that you and your spouse are both on the same page.  This is also the document that, once signed, formally commences the Collaborative Process.

C. Commit to the Process: Collaborative Practice works best when both spouses are committed to reaching a resolution. Make a conscious decision to fully engage in the process, recognizing that cooperation and open communication are key elements in reaching a resolution.

2. Disclose all Relevant Information

A. Decide what information is needed: Transparency is a cornerstone of Collaborative Practice. Your professional team will help you determine the financial and other disclosure that you and your spouse will need to make informed decisions later on.

B. Assign information gatherer(s): Delegating responsibilities is an integral part of Collaboration. Assign individuals to gather the necessary information, fostering a sense of shared responsibility.  Some of the information may be gathered by a Neutral Financial Professional, and other information will be gathered by the spouse that has the best access to that information.

C. Review shared information: Once gathered, you will thoroughly review the shared information. This step sets the stage for open discussions and helps in understanding the full scope of the situation.  As oftentimes one spouse knows a lot more about the family finances than the other spouse, this step helps put the spouses closer to equal footing so they are working off the same information.

D. Work through differences: Differences are inevitable, but Collaborative Divorce is about overcoming them. You will work through any disparities in the shared information.  Your professional team can help identify what additional information is needed, including what types of appraisals or valuations may be helpful to help bridge any differences in understanding.

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Child Support in Florida

Child support in Florida is the financial obligation aimed to provide a fair and consistent means of sharing the costs of raising a child between separated parents. There’s a Collaborative Law process that offers an alternative way to address child support matters. This approach emphasizes cooperation, open communication, and prioritizing your child’s well-being. In this post, we’ll take you through the fundamentals of child support in Florida and the benefits of pursuing child support solutions through the Collaborative Process.

CALCULATING CHILD SUPPORT

In Florida, you’ll find child support guidelines laid out in Florida Statutes §61.30. You’ll notice that the calculation takes into account key factors like your income and your partner’s income, the number of children involved, and the time each of you spends with them. It’s essential to understand that the state utilizes a specific formula incorporating these elements to calculate the exact amount of child support owed.  Though you may deviate from these calculations under certain circumstances, the child support guidelines determine the default amount you can expect to pay or be paid.

CONSIDERING YOUR INCOMES

Remember, both your incomes play a pivotal role in calculating child support. It’s worth noting that not all types of income are straightforward (for example, income from a private business). Additionally, it’s important to keep in mind that if either of you is voluntarily unemployed or not fully utilizing your earning capacity, income may be attributed to you based on your potential earning capacity.

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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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