Collaborative Divorce

The Benefits of Collaborative Divorce

Find out why Collaborative Divorce may be the best way to save your emotional well-being and financial resources

  • Minimize conflict – put less strain on yourself and your family.
  • You control the process, and pace  
  • Maintain Privacy – Since your case is handled outside of the courtroom, all of your personal information will remain private and will not become public record
  • We will be using neutral financial expert who will provide you with “spin-free” facts about the total family financial picture. (You will understand your finances in a way that never happens with traditional ligation ). 
  • Save Money – Settling your case outside of court can save a significant amount in fees.
  • Avoid forcing “side-taking” by adult children and extended family.  
  • Allows for customized solutions rather, rather than simply than focus on “what a judge would do.”  
  • Much better outcome for your minor children.  The conflict that occurs with divorce litigation is destructive for children.  Collaborative divorce reduces this conflict, and allows you to come up with a agreement that focuses on your kids.    
  • Dramatically reduced stress when compared to traditional litigation.

What is Collaborative Divorce?

A collaborative divorce is when both clients retain separate lawyers whose only job is to help the clients settle their disputes.  The process involves open communication between the clients and their respective lawyers.  All participants agree to work together in a collaborative manner.  They also agree to be respectful and honest and to participate in good faith to try to reach an agreement, which meets both clients’ interests.  If the case does not settle in the collaborative process, the lawyers must withdraw and cannot participate in court proceedings.  This agreement that the lawyers will not go to court requires the lawyers and the clients to look at the resolution process in a different way.

Collaborative Divorce Video

Watch one couple’s experience with the Collaborative Divorce Process (Produced by the IACP)
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Table of Contents

Divorce is one of the ten adverse childhood experiences listed in the “ACE Test”, a test used to predict future mental and physical illness.

– There is no need to make things worse with a  custody war

Collaborative Divorce vs. Litigation

 CollaborativeLitigation
Who Controls the ProcessYou and your spouse control the process and make the final decisions Judge controls the process and makes the final decisions
Degree of AdversityYou and your spouse pledge mutual respect and opennessCourt process is based on an adversarial system
TimetableCosts are manageable, usually less expensive than litigation; Team model is financial efficient in use of experts Judge sets the timetable; crowded court schedule often results in delays
Use of ExpertsJointly retained specialists provide information and guidance helping you and your spouse develop informed, mutually beneficial solutions Separate experts are hired to support the litigants’ positions, often at great expense to each
Involvement of LawyersYour lawyers work towards a mutually created settlementLawyers fight to “win.” But who wins when a the couples assets are used to engage in expensive litigation
PrivacyThe process, discussion and negotiation details are kept privateDispute becomes a matter of public record.
Facilitation of CommunciationCollaborative team, including a mental health professional, will assist you and your spouse communicate during the process and provide skills for communicating after the divorce. No process designed to facilitate communications
Voluntary vs. Mandatory The collaborative process is voluntary Absent agreement, the litigation process is mandatory
Lines of Communication You and your spouse communicate directly with the assistance of members of your teamYou and your spouse negotiate through your lawyers
Court involvement The collaborative process is conducted outside of court Litigation is a court based model

Florida's Collaborative Divorce Act

Florida has adopted a law called the Collaborative Law Act.  The purpose/mission statement of Florida’s collaborative divorce statutes is:  ” . . . to encourage the peaceful resolution of disputes and the early resolution of pending litigation through a voluntary settlement process. The collaborative law process is a unique nonadversarial process that preserves a working relationship between the parties and reduces the emotional and financial toll of litigation.”  Section 61.55, Florida Statues.

The Attorney's Role

In traditional divorce litigation your attorney  “rides two horses”  The first horse is moving in the direction of settling the case.  The second horse is moving towards getting your case ready for trial.  These two directions quickly become incompatible.  Pushing hard towards trial can make settlement less likely, and focusing on settlement takes time and resources away from preparing for trial.   In a collaborative divorce the collaborative attorneys can never be the trial (litigation) attorneys, so the problem of “riding two horses” is eliminated.  Instead, your collaborative attorney’s sole focus is to help you negotiate a fair resolution.

Some clients are reluctant to try collaborative law because they have a misconception about the attorney’s role.  Specifically, some clients are concerned that their collaborative attorney will not be a strong advocate for them.  To be clear:  your collaborative attorney  is your advocate.  The collaborative process is not  everyone holding hands and singing Kumbaya.  There are real and serious problems that need to be addressed in every divorce case.  Your collaborative attorney will be your advocate in articulating and addressing those problems.  However, rather focusing on litigation, your collaborative attorney will to work creatively and cooperatively with the collaborative team to help you reach a result that is fair and works for everyone.

Other Resources

I am a member of Next Generation Divorce (NGD) which is a group of family law attorneys and other professionals in the Sarasota, Manatee, and Tampa areas that are committed to the collaborative law process.   NGD has a great website that will provide you with additional information about collaborative divorce.

Collaborative Divorce Ebook

Collaborative Divorce Ebook

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