COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE AND FAMILY LAW IN FLORIDA
No matter how you look at it, divorce and family law matters are difficult to go through. Expectations of stability are shattered, mistrust grows, and bills pile up. And then the litigation begins. Attorneys file and serve petitions, counter-petitions, requests to produce, and motions to compel. Each party hires dueling mental health experts to convince a judge that he or she should have more time with the children. Privacy is eliminated as each party’s life is probed and publicly questioned so that one side may gain a tactical advantage.
But there is a different way. A more civilized way. And it is called Collaborative Family Law (also known as Collaborative Divorce or Collaborative Practice).
A Collaborative law firm is dedicated to helping people resolve personal disputes without destroying their families. They encourage the use of the Collaborative Family Law model in divorce, child custody, child support, alimony, post-judgment, prenuptial, and most other family law cases
A PRIVATE ALTERNATIVE TO PUBLIC COURTROOM BATTLES
All meetings, communications, and proposed settlement options that take place within the Collaborative context are privileged and confidential. Discussions are held, not in open court, but at the office of one of the attorneys or other team members. This private environment allows both the clients and team members to fulfill their agreement to be open, honest, and transparent toward one another. Unlike traditional litigation, any agreement that is reached may not need to be filed with the clerk of the court, helping private lives stay out of the public record.
A HEALTHIER FAMILY LAW OPTION
Unlike traditional family law cases, attorneys in the Collaborative model are retained solely for the purpose of helping the clients reach an agreement. In practical terms, this means that the attorneys are not conducting the usual opposition research to highlight an opposing party’s parental or other flaws in preparation for trial (which can be the most destructive part of the traditional divorce process). In addition, a facilitator—generally a licensed mental health professional—helps the clients and the attorneys focus on what’s most important to the family’s future happiness and well-being.
A TEAM APPROACH TO FAMILY LAW
The traditional divorce model pits husband versus wife, mother versus father. Collaborative Law is a refreshing team-oriented alternative. Each client retains a separate attorney whose job is to counsel the client and help resolve disputes. The attorneys work together to help both clients meet their needs. Open communication is advanced by a trained facilitator, while support and property options are developed by a neutral financial professional. The clients, attorneys, and other team members agree beforehand that the matter will not be brought into the court system until a full agreement is reached.
CREATIVE SOLUTIONS TO FAMILY MATTERS
The Collaborative Process allows for flexible, creative solutions to a family law matter. The team explores options that look beyond a legal framework by incorporating the skills and expertise of the facilitator and financial professional. Clients are encouraged to focus on the best interests of their family, rather than rigid negotiation positions, to reach their goals. In the unlikely event that a settlement is not reached, the Collaborative attorneys withdraw and litigation lawyers may be retained. The knowledge that the Collaborative attorneys cannot bring the case in front of a judge further permits the parties to speak openly about potential settlement options (and frees attorneys from conducting exhaustive, costly opposition research).