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Five Stages of Grief In Divorce

In 1969, a Swiss psychiatrist, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, published a book in which she described the five stages of grief experienced by terminally-ill patients.  This work was later expanded to help explain the emotions of people who have lost a loved one and others experiencing personal loss, such as spouses going through divorce.

Divorce is a trauma, and anyone going through this trauma may be helped by speaking with a counselor or therapist.  Additionally, you should consider whether the collaborative family law process may be helpful to your family, as it is a private form of dispute resolution that generally involves a neutral facilitator, who usually has a mental health background.  This is in recognition that divorce is not just a legal matter, but also a highly emotional matter.

Regardless, below are the five stages of grief you may experience if you are going through divorce:

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What Your Florida Divorce Lawyer May Not Be Telling You

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

Tampa Same Sex Divorce and Collaborative Practice

Same Sex Couple Seeks Divorce in Florida

Same Sex Couple Seeks Divorce in Florida

I have recently been involved in a Tampa family law matter that has made a couple of headlines lately. I represent a client who married her wife in Massachusetts, they moved to Florida, and ultimately they decided that their same sex marriage was irretrievably broken. The women reached a full settlement on all their marital issues, and, as the media has reported, now they are asking the court to grant them a divorce.

Related: In a Florida Child Custody Case, Does It Matter that I am Gay?

Related: Five Legal Steps Florida LGBT Parents Should Take

What has gotten far less attention is the fact that the women reached a full settlement agreement and formed a united front using the private collaborative family law process.

Unlike the more familiar divorce proceedings where parties hire gunslinger lawyers and have their dirty laundry aired in public courthouses, these women each retained a collaboratively-trained attorney (Ellen Ware and myself) who are experienced in respectful and interest-based negotiations. We attorneys were hired specifically to focus on reaching an amicable settlement in private offices; we both agreed that we would not inflame the situation by “building a case” against the other party and bringing arguments between the clients into the public courtroom.

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How to Avoid a Nasty Divorce Battle in Tampa Bay

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.

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Ask for a Collaborative Divorce Attorney

If you are considering a divorce, ask your attorney whether he or she has received interdisciplinary collaborative training and offers the collaborative divorce option.  Why?

A collaborative divorce attorney will focus on helping you and your family rather than hurting your spouse.  He or she is committed to productive and respectful negotiations for a mutually beneficial outcome rather than conducting an all out war in the courtroom.

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Florida Divorce – What If I Deny That My Marriage Is Irretrievably Broken?

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:

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Tampa Court Publishes Requirements for Divorce

In an effort to make the process for divorce clearer to litigants in Hillsborough County, the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit has published the following Requirements for Dissolution of Marriage:

1.  PROOF OF RESIDENCY. 6 months prior to filing Petition. May be proved by drivers license, voter I.D., Affidavit of Corroborating Witness; or testimony of witness. Section 61.052(2), Fla. Stat.

2.  U.C.C.J.E.A. If any minor child or children born as a result of the marriage. Section 61.501 -61.542, Fla. Stat. (2002)

3.  FINANCIAL AFFIDAVITS for each spouse, Rule 12.285(d)(1), Family Law Rules. (This requirement may not be waived if there are financial issues.) Under $50K/Yr. – Over $50K/Yr.

4.  COMPLETED CHILD SUPPORT GUIDELINES WORKSHEET, if there are minor children. Family Law Rules Form 12.902(e).

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Video: The Smart Divorce

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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This is Why Florida is a “No Fault” Divorce State

Florida is a “No Fault” divorce state.  This means that parties do not have to accuse one another of doing harm to the marriage, such as by committing adultery or domestic violence, for a judge to grant a dissolution of marriage.  Rather, a party merely needs to allege that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.”

The usual test that a Tampa Bay judge gives to determine whether the marriage is irretrievably broken is to ask the question, “Would therapy or counseling help repair the marriage?”  If either party states that counseling would not help, a final decree of divorce will likely be granted.

As it turns out, England is not a “No Fault” divorce jurisdiction.  The New York Times reports that, since English parties must give reasons for seeking divorce, the court record is filled with highly personal, and sometimes downright wacky, divorce allegations.  Below are some of those allegations:

  • A husband insisted that his wife dress in a Klingon costume and speak to him in Klingon;
  • A wife maliciously and repeatedly served her husband the food he least liked: tuna casserole;
  • A wife spitefully tampered with her husband’s television antenna and, even worse, threw away his cold cuts; Read more

Divorce and “No Fault”

Since last year, New York, like Florida, has become a “no fault” divorce state.  Generally, this means that spouses don’t have to allege wrongdoing to have their marriage dissolved.  A petitioner simply has to allege that the marriage is broken beyond repair, and maybe give a few facts (such as a statement that the parties no longer are in love). But, according to attorney Doug Kepanis, at least one New York judge requires more:

In the case of Strack v. Strack, a wife sought to divorce her husband based on the New York “no fault” divorce statute. She alleged, in accordance with the statute, that “the relationship between husband and wife has broken down such that it is irretrievable and has been for a period of at least six months.” This is basically a paraphrase of the actual law.

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