Traditionally, divorce has been an adversarial process, with lawyers making arguments in front of a judge about what his or her client should get. And yet, you are probably not looking to get in a prolonged battle with your spouse; rather, you are likely looking to move on with your life and ensure your kids do not get caught in the middle. This is why I specialize in Collaborative Divorce, which unbundles divorce negotiations from the adversarial court process. In effect, I am a resolution specialist.
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The International Academy of Collaborative Professionals has established Minimum Standards for Collaborative Practitioners, most recently revised in October 2014. When you consider hiring a divorce attorney, and you are exploring the option of Collaborative Divorce, ask your potential attorney whether he or she meets each of the following Minimum Standards:
1. General Requirements:
1.1 The Collaborative practitioner is a member in good standing of: IACP; and a local Collaborative Practice group.
1.2 The Collaborative practitioner accepts the IACP Mission Statement.
1.3 The Collaborative practitioner diligently strives to practice in a manner consistent with the IACP Ethical Standards for Collaborative practitioners.
1.4 The trainings referred to in 2.2, 3.3 and 4.3 must be trainings that meet the IACP Minimum Standards for trainings delivered by trainers who meet the IACP Minimum Standards for Collaborative Trainers.
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.
The International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (IACP) is the premier organization urging families to resolve divorce and other family law matters in a better way. Collaborative Divorce, also known as Collaborative Practice, Collaborative Law, and the Collaborative Process, is a structured method of private dispute resolution that keeps families out of court.
The short video below, produced by the IACP, explains why families facing divorce should consider Collaborative Practice.
If you are looking at your divorce options (from traditional divorce to collaborative divorce to mediation), you may have come across the term “Collaborative Facilitator.” What is a Collaborative Facilitator?
A Collaborative Facilitator is a neutral professional in a collaborative divorce. He or she is oftentimes utilized as a team leader and communication specialist within the collaborative family law process. He or she generally has a background in family dynamics, childhood development, and/or conflict management. A Collaborative Facilitator will have credentials and a license. These will be in the area of marriage and family therapy, mental health counseling, social work, psychology, or psychiatry. However, the Collaborative Facilitator is not engaging in therapy as part of the collaborative process.
Author, psychologist, and collaborative trainer Jeremy S. Gaies, in A Clear and Easy Guide to Collaborative Divorce, discusses the role of the Collaborative Facilitator (which he describes as “coach,” using the nomenclature of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals) in the following excerpt:
If you have children and are going through a divorce, your biggest concern is likely how your kids will be affected. When is the best time to tell your children, and how much should you share with them?
Your Children Will Know
Your children will know that something is going on, and leaving them in the dark may cause more apprehension and stress in them than just being upfront. Establish a united front early in the process, and tell your children together that you are separating. Assure them that while things will be different, everything will be okay. Alleviate their fears that your divorce is in any way their faults. Remind them often during the process that everything will fine and it is not their faults.
When determining which attorney to hire for your divorce, you may be tempted to believe that your best option is to hire an overly-aggressive lawyer. But is that truly going to benefit you and your family? Do you want to make your spouse “the enemy” and make your children collateral damage? Well, there is another option. Instead, you can hire a family-focused divorce lawyer.
In the video below, Minnesota collaborative attorney Ron Ousky, former president of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals, discusses, among other things, why you should consider hiring a family-focused divorce lawyer.
On May 18, 2017, the Florida Supreme Court published an opinion approving collaborative law rules. The collaborative law rules are the last step necessary before Florida’s Collaborative Law Process Act goes into effect.
The opinion approves Rule Regulating the Florida Bar 4-1.19 and Florida Family Law Rule of Procedure 12.745.
Rule Regulating the Florida Bar 4-1.19
Florida Bar Rule 4-1.19 is a rule of professional conduct. It creates certain obligations of attorneys representing clients within the collaborative process. Among other things, the rule requires collaborative lawyers to do the following when contemplating collaborative practice with a client:
- Provide sufficient information about the benefits and risks of the collaborative process;
- Explain alternatives to the collaborative process, including litigation and mediation;
The March 31, 2016 edition of the Tampa Tribune published a Letter to the Editor penned by Family Diplomacy Managing Attorney Adam B. Cordover on the newly signed Florida Collaborative Law Process Act (“CLPA”). You can find the Letter to the Editor below:
LETTER OF THE DAY: TAKING THE FIGHTING OUT OF DIVORCE
Recent bills passed by the Florida Legislature reforming alimony and changing child time-sharing laws have received a lot of attention, but something that has flown under the radar is the passage of the Collaborative Law Process Act (CLPA). Gov. Rick Scott signed the bill on March 24 after a seven-year effort by licensed mental health counselors, marriage and family therapists, psychologists and other family advocates.
The CLPA applies to divorce and other family law matters, and it creates a uniform system for the practice of collaborative law (also sometimes referred to as collaborative divorce, collaborative practice or the collaborative process).
The goal of collaborative law is to take the fighting out of divorce. Each spouse retains an attorney for the sole purpose of reaching an out-of-court agreement. Collaborative attorneys are barred from wasting any of the clients’ energy, time or money on opposition research, discovery motions or preparing for trial.
Collaborative law often involves a neutral facilitator with a mental health licensure. This is in recognition of the fact that divorce is not just a legal process, but it is predominately an emotional process. The facilitator helps parents learn to communicate and focus on what is most important to them, such as the health and welfare of their children.
Last Friday, the Florida Senate passed its version of HB-967, the Collaborative Law Process Act, priming Florida to become the 14th state to pass a version of the Uniform Collaborative Law Act.
The bill, which was voted on in the Florida Senate by 39-0 after passing the Florida House last month by 117-0, is now enrolled and expected to be signed by the governor. At the earliest, the Collaborative Law Process Act becomes binding on July 1, 2016. However, it may take longer, as the bill itself states that it will not go into effect until 30 days after the Florida Supreme Court adopts Rules of Procedure and Rules of Professional Responsibility consistent with the bill. It is my understanding that proposed rules have been provided or will be provided to the Supreme Court.
[Update: On March 24, 2016, Governor Scott Signed the Collaborative Law Process Act]
The Collaborative Law Process Act, which applies to divorce, paternity, and other family law matters, does several things:
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