Tampa’s Head Family Law Judge Endorses Collaborative Process

Judge Catherine M. Catlin, Associate Administrative Judge of the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit’s Domestic Relations Division, recently lead a round table discussion sponsored by the Collaborative Divorce Institute of Tampa Bay (“CDITB”). Judge Catlin relayed, among other things, that she encourages clients to participate in private alternative dispute resolution methods such as collaborative practice.

2012-07-12 Judge Catlin and CDITB Board

From L to R: Bob Evans, Christine Hearn, Adam B. Cordover, Judge Catherine M. Catlin, Beth Reineke, Lara Davis, David Harper

Collaborative practice (also known as collaborative family law, collaborative process, and collaborative divorce) is a method of resolving disputes where the parties agree that they are not going to bring their case in front of a judge to decide issues of custody, division of assets, etc. Instead, they hire trained collaborative attorneys committed to reach a settlement. A neutral facilitator or mental health professional is retained to move the process forward and keep the parties focused on the future of the family and children rather than on the arguments of the past. A neutral financial expert is often brought on board to develop settlement options that make sense for the family’s financial well-being.

One of the biggest selling points of collaborative divorce is that the case takes place in the privacy of one of the professional’s offices rather than in the public domain of open court.

Judge Catlin, in her remarks, discussed how Tampa will soon bolster the privacy of the collaborative process. She has been working with the leadership of the CDITB (including Membership Chair Adam B. Cordover) and other local groups to draft an administrative order governing collaborative family law in Hillsborough County. The proposed administrative order will allow for the filing of redacted financial affidavits and will permit final judgments of divorce to be granted without the parenting plans or marital settlement agreements being place in the publicly-accessible court file.

The administrative order is expected to be granted by the chief judge of Hillsborough County within the coming weeks.

If you have question regarding the collaborative process and you wish to schedule a consultation with a collaboratively trained Tampa Bay attorney, contact The Law Firm of Adam B. Cordover, P.A., at (813) 443-0615 or fill out our online form.

Adam B. Cordover is on the Executive Board of the Collaborative Divorce Institute of Tampa Bay.

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