Emerging from Divorce as Friends: The Collaborative Divorce Option
Many people assume that divorce must be a battle between spouses where both vie to take as much as they can from other person. High levels of conflict within the divorce process are easy to envision when the emotional toll of the process is considered along with the important issues that are at stake. However, contentiousness is not a requirement, and some couples have a vested interest in emerging from divorce with at least a working relationship. There are several alternative resolution options used in family law matters, with mediation being the most familiar, but a newer trend that warranted the passage of a new law earlier this year is collaborative divorce. This non-adversarial process is designed to help couples create divorce settlements in a supportive atmosphere while fostering the foundation for a continuing relationship. This method could be particularly effective for spouses that wish to co-parent, and spouses with family businesses they intend to continue jointly operating after the marriage is over. Unlike traditional divorce litigation where each party builds their own team of experts to tear down the claims of the other side, collaborative divorce involves the parties working together with a team of mental health and financial experts to craft a divorce settlement that makes sense for their unique situation. An overview of Florida’s new law on this procedure and some of the advantages over a traditional divorce petition will be discussed below.
Florida’s Collaborative Divorce Law
Collaborative divorce is a voluntary process where the parties agree to work out the terms of a divorce without court intervention. To begin this process, the spouses must enter into a collaborative law participation agreement, which requires each to party to promise to make a good faith effort to form a divorce agreement and not seek the involvement of the traditional legal process. Each party also retains the services of an attorney trained in the collaborative law process to advise them on the legal consequences of their decisions. These attorneys are only permitted to represent collaborative divorce clients during the collaborative law process, and if a party decides to terminate the proceedings in order to file a petition a court, the collaborative law attorney is disqualified from continuing as counsel. Either party can terminate the process at any time and for any reason.
The team of experts hired to help the parties typically consists of mental health counselors to address emotional and communication barriers and accountants to guide the parties on property division. The team of professionals and collaborative law attorneys are there to help the parties problem-solve and take an active part in formulating their own solutions. The process itself takes place in series of meetings where each spouse is given an opportunity to voice his/her concerns and possible compromises.
Advantages Over Traditional Litigation
The parties’ ability to create their own divorce settlement, instead of leaving the decision to a court, is one of the largest benefits of this process. It also allows the couple to keep the terms of an agreement and contents of any discussions or communications confidential and private. Traditional divorce cases are matters of public record that anyone can access as desired. In addition, the parties can set the schedule and pace of the discussions, and avoid the constraints of working around a judge’s schedule and attending status hearings that may not yield any new information. Finally, this process is less expensive than standard divorce cases because the parties work with one team of experts instead of separately retaining their own to contest claims.
Work with a Florida Divorce Attorney
If you are considering divorce, sit down with an experienced divorce attorney to learn how the law applies to the circumstances of your family so you know your legal options. Regardless whether you decide a non-adversarial approach or traditional litigation is best for you, divorce has many consequences that you should understand from the beginning. The Fort Lauderdale Law Office of Joyce A. Julian, P.A. has years of experience in family law matters and can help obtain the best possible resolution of your case. Contact the office for a free consultation.