Understanding Collaborative Divorce in Florida

The traditional divorce process has a reputation for being complicated and stressful. The tensions that contributed to the decision to move forward with a divorce often contribute to making the process more adversarial.

In 2017 the Florida Supreme Court passed an act with accompanying rules putting into place the collaborative law process. This process allows couples who can work together to reach a peaceful settlement agreement to present to the court. Before diving into the benefits of the process, it is important to understand better what the process entails.

What is Collaborative Divorce?

A collaborative divorce is highly recommended as a peaceful dispute resolution process. It is voluntary, meaning the government doesn’t mandate it. The process works well for a divorcing couple who believe they can work together in a non-adversarial way. This will allow them to achieve the best resolution for everyone involved. It will enable them to avoid the “us versus them” mentality of the courtroom and take steps to reach a common ground.

To begin the collaborative process, each individual needs to retain their attorney. Sometimes the process is recommended by another party such as a financial planner or mental health expert. Still, they each need to secure their attorney and notify their attorneys that they would like to pursue a collaborative divorce. The attorneys ensure that each party’s interests are being taken care of and provide legal advice when necessary.

If both parties agree to a collaborative divorce, there will be an initial meeting between the respective parties and their attorneys. At this meeting, they will sign a participation agreement outlining the terms of the process. It also sets the divorce rules and dictates that neither party can litigate the agreement’s issues via the court system.

Note: If one of the parties decides to withdraw and pursue a traditional divorce, they will each have to find a new attorney. That is because the current attorneys will have to withdraw from the case.

There are many matters to be discussed, including co-parenting, child support, and property distribution. Depending on the different issues covered, several meetings may take place during the process. Experts may be called in to help settle various problems and offer advice. For example, a neutral financial expert may be consulted to resolve financial disagreements. In some cases, it may be wise to have a mental health expert lead the collaborative process.

Trust is an essential aspect of the collaborative divorce process. The couple should be transparent; however, in many cases, there are issues with trust. In this case, it is essential that they feel confident that they can trust the process. The professionals they have hired to help mediate, advise, and support them are there to ensure they reach a mutual agreement.

There are some circumstances when it may be best not to pursue a collaborative divorce. This includes cases where domestic violence occurs.

When Can I Initiate a Collaborative Divorce?

If a couple knows they would like to pursue the collaborative process, they should let each of their attorneys know upfront.

However, suppose a couple initially decides to pursue a traditional divorce or learns about collaborative divorce during the divorce process. In that case, they can choose to pursue a collaborative divorce later on in the process. This will enable them to avoid more court proceedings for any issues that have not yet been settled.

Collaborative Divorce Benefits

There are many benefits to pursuing a collaborative divorce, especially if there is a desire to maintain good relationships. This can be significant in many different situations, such as when children are involved. Other benefits can include:

  • Keeping the process confidential. 
    • Private information is not discussed publicly in a courtroom setting.
  • Saving time. 
    • The process is not bound by court dates. 
  • Saving money.
    • You can split the cost of experts like financial planners and mental health professionals.
  • More control.
    • You have more control over the terms of the settlement agreement.
  • Options for unique family situations.
    • According to the Florida Academy of Collaborative Professionals, “Collaborative Process can also help non-traditional families or unmarried couples resolve unique issues of which a court may be unfamiliar or lack authority to consider.”

Next Steps: Hire the Right Family Law Attorney

If you believe the collaborative process is right for you, it is important to hire an experienced attorney who can advise you and protect your rights.

Dave Roy Law, located conveniently in West Palm Beach, can handle all your family law needs. Staffed with experienced lawyers, our law firm helps individuals navigate the divorce process. Contact us at 561-729-0095 to schedule an appointment.