Traditional divorces in Florida always seem to be a messy affair, even when both clients have the right documentation, such as a prenup. Depending on the reason for the divorce, emotions, such as hurt and frustration, are already high by the time the petition for divorce is filed, whether it is traditional, collaborative or pro se. Each party needs an attorney in Palm Beach, Florida, to help protect their rights, and negotiations can quickly become a game so that each party gets as much as they can without giving up much. By the time it's all said and done, there's significant animosity between the couple. Once a judge rules on the matter, those feelings get solidified. If the clients also have children, the entire matter can be even worse.
However, the traditional divorce might be out, and a new way to handle divorce-related issues is emerging. Collaborative divorce is highly popular in Florida because the method uses a unique approach to deal with conflicts and disputes in the divorce matter. What is it, though, and what benefits does it provide as opposed to a traditional hearing in court?
What's a Collaborative Divorce?
The primary focus of the collaborative law process is to settle. What drives the Florida clients to the collaborative divorce is the desire to protect each other's rights while reaching a settlement or agreement about any disagreements and disputes.
This process is actually designed to be non-adversarial, so both parties feel like they're treated fairly and working toward the common goal. Both spouses use negotiation as a way to resolve their differences, each with an attorney present.
How Does the Collaborative Divorce Process Work
The collaborative divorce process in Fort Lauderdale, FL, allows each client to retain an attorney of their choosing, but they aren't obligated to have an attorney. This is similar to the initial step for a regular divorce, and the role of the attorney is similar, too. In a sense, the attorney's presence ensures that the party's rights are fully protected throughout the process. Plus, attorneys can offer the parties important legal information regarding what consequences there could be on the agreements the parties may reach.
When each client in Florida has met with their respective attorneys, they should determine whether or not they prefer to resolve issues through the collaborative divorce process. Since collaborative divorce is voluntary (no statute or court requires a party to participate in it against their will), the collaborative law process can only work if each client is agreeable and wants to do it. It's possible to enter into the process immediately or later, but no one has to enter this process at all.
If each client in Florida wants to use the collaborative divorce framework, there's an initial meeting between them and their attorneys to create the collaborative divorce agreement. This identifies any major issues that the client wants to resolve through this process and focuses on the decisions that have to be made. Ground rules are established here, too.
This collaborative agreement identifies the evidence and documents each client requires to negotiate in good faith without the help of the family court. Typically, this can include information about the mental health of the client and whatever else is required for each person to work together.
Each person has to consent not to use the courts to deal with issues within the agreement. If one person chooses to do that, the agreement must state that the attorneys have to withdraw and cannot represent them in a court of law.
Though it's still considered family law, this participation agreement works a little differently.
Say that Carol and Clyde have been married many years and have two kids together. Recently, Clyde saw a decrease in hours and money coming in, which strained the marriage. Clyde moved out of the house, and the couple lives separately for many weeks. Though they try to seek counseling from a mental health counselor, it doesn't work, and they decide not to stay married. In the end, Clyde starts the process by filing for divorce.
At this point, the couple would have a decision to make. If they feel they can't negotiate or settle, it can continue like a regular divorce case. However, if both parties believe that they can work with each other to resolve their differences despite the feelings they've got for each other, they can request a collaborative law process. If they choose the collaborative process, they require attorneys with experience representing their clients in a collaborative divorce.
Collaborative divorce is an example of family law matters, but it's a specialty area. Choose a law firm in Florida that can help with such a process and case. Often, they include a free consultation to ensure that they are the right company for the couple.
An initial meeting is held between the attorneys and the parties involved in a collaborative divorce within Florida. The purpose of the meeting is to make sure that both parties want to enter a formal collaborative divorce agreement and to set the details of it. Assuming they both do, these provisions are necessary:
Conduct Rules - Each party has to agree that they can treat each other civilly while participating in the collaborative law process and are going to work with each other in good faith. The rules of conduct are sure to prohibit either person from screaming or yelling and engaging in any disruptive behaviors. The parties may also consent that they don't discuss the negotiations with others, including family and children. The collaborative process agreement requires that both parties cooperate in the discovery process and respond to documentation requests and answer questions about the financial assets and other information.
Issues that Need to Be Resolved - Next, the couple outlines the major issues they want to resolve and the significant decisions that have to be made. This varies for each couple, but it can include what assets are going to be divided, who gets what properties, and more. If the couple has children, child support, scheduling visits, and parenting time come into play. Finally, spousal support can be discussed if needed.
Experts Required - Many times, divorces use expert witnesses to determine business values, unique assets, or what's in the best interest for the child. Parties can agree on which expert is necessary and designate who's going to be hired to provide the information.
Agree to No Litigation - The key provision for the collaborative process is that both parties agree not to litigate disputes or try to resolve the issues in court. They can only go to court to submit routine stipulations and documents. If either party chooses to go to court later, they are in violation of the collaborative process agreement, and the attorneys would be required to withdraw from the case.
If the collaborative divorce is successful in Florida, both attorneys prepare appropriate stipulations for the court to inform of the decisions made. The attorneys then ask the courts to adopt the arrangement. Once this happens, those conditions and terms agreed to in the Florida collaborative process are enforceable and binding.
Why Consider a Collaborative Divorce
A collaborative divorce in Florida can be less expensive than a regular one, but it isn't for everyone. For some spouses, sitting with their soon-to-be ex is unpleasant, especially when trying to work with one another to reach a particular settlement. However, if it's possible, there are many advantages available:
More Control Over the Results - Instead of putting important decisions (custody, property division, and child support) into the hands of a judge, the collaborative process allows the spouses to dictate results.
More Satisfaction - With a traditional divorce, one party could walk away feeling like a winner while the other walks out like the loser. In a collaborative divorce, both parties participate and create a workable settlement agreement, so they each feel like winners. Though neither party is sure to get everything they prefer with the collaborative process, what the clients reach is usually agreeable without hurting anyone's feelings.
Low Cost - Lawyers cost a lot of money, but in a collaborative process, the legal fees would be lower. With a regular divorce, litigation requires experts, and they must be hired by the parties involved. With collaborative divorces, only one accountant or expert is necessary, so the parties can split the bill for the expert. This results in significant savings for one another in these matters.
Fast Discovery - Since the parties in the collaborative divorce agree to work with one another in good faith to reach the settlement, discovery is faster. This is the process where important info is exchanged. That leads to a quick turnaround but can also save each person money.
No Adversarial Proceedings - Many people dislike the courtroom because their private matters are made public to anyone who visits. This would be scary for anyone, but with the collaborative process, no financial data is made public. In fact, this can protect a person's mental health. Another benefit is that if the collaborative process is successful, a judge may not be involved at all. The lawyers deal with the court system.
How to Get a Collaborative Divorce
Those who think it's time to try something different must consider the new method of collaborative divorce. When a Florida resident chooses collaborative divorce, it's important to hire an attorney who is experienced in the collaborative process. We are available to help spouses. Consider live chat or other contact methods today.
This area of family law isn't as easy to handle, but collaborative divorce is a great method to work through disagreements in South Florida more easily. As our client's St Petersburg divorce attorney, we work to preserve the family assets and family needs so that everyone can benefit. Those who live in Boca Raton, Florida, can get a family attorney to help them with the collaborative process if that's what both clients want.
Clients living in Broward County, Florida, also have access to the area of family law referred to as collaborative divorce. Both parties must want it, but it's a great way to create a settlement agreement for the entire family.