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The Collaborative Divorce Process in Florida

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In mid-2017, the Collaborative Law Process Act (CLPA) went into effect in Florida. At the time the governor signed the law, Florida was only the 14th state to enact a collaborative law statute. The CLPA helps promote the resolution of family law disputes through a collaborative process rather than letting a third party (a judge) weigh in and make determinations on important matters.

How Collaborative Divorce Works

Couples who are open to settlement negotiations can go through the collaborative divorce process, which is designed to be non-adversarial in nature, helping both spouses feel like their opinion matters and they have a vested interest in the outcome. By focusing on an ultimate goal of settlement, it can help relieve some of the tension that often builds during divorce proceedings.

The collaborative divorce kicks off with each party retaining their own Florida family law attorney once both spouses have agreed to try it. All parties initially meet to discuss a list of goals, and each side will meet with their respective client to keep them on track. The benefit is there is no need to involve the court and utilize traditional discovery methods or wait for the court to rule on the matter.

Not all cases will resolve during the collaborative divorce process. In these situations, you’ve divulged information through the process that now may harm you during a subsequent court proceeding. Thankfully, there is a privilege so participants feel comfortable that neither party will use the other’s side information against them in court.

Parties will need to sign a participant agreement that outlines the terms and conditions of the collaborative divorce process. The agreement requires a signature that states you’re willing to negotiate in good faith with the intent of resolving your divorce out of court.

Pros and Cons of Collaborative Divorce

There are some obvious benefits of collaborative divorce, along with some potential drawbacks to consider.

Pros: Parties have greater control over the results and important decisions like child support, custody, and the division of marital assets. Traditional divorces can cost more since you have to hire experts. In a collaborative divorce, you hire one shared expert and split the cost. Since there is no official court-ordered discovery, things tend to move faster as parties work to get the information needed so the matter can be resolved amicably.

Potential Cons: If the collaborative divorce process fails, you are both required to retain new attorneys, as the agreement contains a clause that states that if the process doesn’t respond, you must hire new attorneys for the court case. Because you are doing this in good faith, there is the chance one spouse may not be so honest and hide assets or important information in order to protect themselves or their hidden assets. If there is a history of domestic violence, the judge may not allow the parties to utilize collaborative divorce.

Hiring a Collaborative Divorce Attorney

It’s important to retain a qualified Florida collaborative divorce attorney because the process is different than the standard dissolution of marriage in Florida. The Boca Raton family law attorneys at the Law Offices of Schwartz | White are skilled in both standard dissolution of marriage matters and collaborative divorce procedures. Contact our office at 561-391-9943 to schedule a confidential consultation.

Resources:

prnewswire.com/news-releases/groundbreaking-florida-collaborative-divorce-law-effective-july-1-2017-300482227.html

leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=0000-0099/0061/Sections/0061.56.html

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