In July of 2017, Florida joined a growing number of states allowing collaborative law in divorce cases. This is very good for Florida families. Understanding collaborative law and the collaborative law process is essential to deciding whether a collaborative divorce in Florida is the right approach for you and your family.
In a collaborative divorce in Florida, the parties sign a collaborative law participation agreement at the outset. This agreement is signed both by the spouses to the divorce and their attorneys. In the agreement, they indicate their intention to engage in collaborative resolution of the divorce and family law issues without intervention by the courts. Collaborative law addresses issues related to the following family law topics:
- Marriage, divorce, and annulment;
- Division of marital property;
- Child custody and parenting time;
- Alimony and child support;
- Relocation of the child; as well as
- Premarital and post marital agreements.
Limitations in Collaborative Divorce in Florida
Both spouses must agree to a collaborative divorce process. Neither party can force the other to participate in a collaborative divorce in Florida. Further, neither party can initiate divorce proceedings in court during the collaborative process. If the parties initiate a collaborative divorce, but negotiations fail, both attorneys involved are prohibited from representing their respective clients in subsequent divorce proceedings in court.
Benefits of Collaborative Divorce
While there are certain limitations on parties to collaborative divorce, the benefits are great.
The Tone of the Divorce is Civil
Unlike in a typical divorce proceeding, the parties specifically agree to treat each other with respect. In collaborative divorce, the parties work together with a common goal, resolving the issues present in each individual case. Consequently, the parties agree to an honest and open exchange of all relevant documents, such as retirement accounts, income, and asset disclosure. Contrast this with a traditional divorce, where parties are often concerned about making the other side suffer for perceived slights, hurt feelings, or unresolved issues.
Protecting the Children
Collaborative divorces affirmatively protect the children in the family. The parties agree to protect the children from the details of the negotiations. The parties also agree to conduct themselves in ways that minimize the stress of the divorce on the children.
In a typical divorce, each side hires their own experts. These experts may include, for example, financial experts, parenting experts, vocational coaches and the like. Each expert reviews the same evidence, and then writes a report for the party they represent. In a collaborative divorce, on the other hand, the parties share the cost of a single expert for each area of concern. The findings are known to all parties at the same time. As a result, the parties make decisions in the best interests of the family unit, rather than the best interests of one side or the other.
The Details Remain Private
In a typical divorce, the parties litigate areas of dispute in open court. A court reporter records every word of the proceedings. This record can be transcribed and made available to anyone who might have an interest in the details of your divorce – including your family, your in-laws, and your adult children In a collaborative divorce, the parties negotiate the details of the divorce in private.
If You are Considering Divorce
If you are considering divorce, a collaborative divorce may be a good fit for you or your family. Additionally, if you need to modify your child support or time-sharing agreement, collaborative law may also be the best approach. Whatever your family law needs, the Carolan Family Law Firm, P.A. has the skills necessary to assist in a collaborative resolution. Contact the office at 305-358-2330 to schedule a consultation to discuss your family’s needs.