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Groundbreaking Florida Divorce Law

Groundbreaking Florida Divorce Law

While many divorces are handled in a friendly manner in a court of law, some divorces can become public affairs. Nobody going through a divorce wants their private matters aired for the public to see. Previously, going through a court of law where almost everything is public knowledge was the only option. Recently, there was a groundbreaking law passed in the state of Florida that could represent the birth of a new option for couples going through a divorce. The Florida Supreme Court has newly accepted Florida Bar Rules and Professional Responsibilities regarding the Collaborative Process.

What is the Collaborative Process?

Many people are aware of the options for settling a divorce case through litigation in court. The Collaborative Process represents an option that achieves the same end through voluntary settlement negotiations instead of through the litigation process. This could represent an attractive option for some people who are trying to end the divorce on amicable terms. For over five years, the FACP (Florida Academy of Collaborative Professionals) has been working hard with the Florida Bar's Family Law Section in order to reach this important milestone for family law in the state of Florida. Now, there are multiple options for divorce proceedings instead of the previous one-size-fits-all approach. This allows couples and families to have multiple options at their disposal when going through a divorce proceeding.

Dignity and Privacy

While litigation in court tends to be more public in nature, a divorce proceeding through the Collaborative Process represents an alternative option that has both dignity and privacy for the families involved. A divorce can already be a tense procedure that is only exacerbated in a court of law. Families and children do not have to worry about their family matters becoming public if they are able to reach a voluntary settlement through the Collaborative Process. This new option represents a landmark agreement for families everywhere.

Interdisciplinary Approach

The Collaborative Process involves several professionals specializing in different fields that come together in the family’s best interests during one of the most difficult times in their lives. The professionals involved include a neutral forensic accountant, who investigates that marital estate and determines the value of certain marital assets, and a neutral mental health professional who facilitates the process and focuses on the children’s issues and prepares a Parenting Plan. Of course, each party is represented by her or his own attorney representing their interests. The attorneys should be specially trained in the practice of Collaborative Law.

Commitment to Resolve Matter Without Litigation

At the commencement of a Collaborative Law Case, the parties and the professionals all sign a Participation Agreement. An important provision in the Participation Agreement is the Disqualification Clause, which states that if the matter does not get resolved in the Collaborative Process, the attorneys can no longer represent their respective clients in contested litigation. The result is that the clients and the professionals are committed to resolving the matter outside of court. Since the majority of cases that start in the Collaborative Process get resolved within the process, clients can rest assured that there is a high probability that their case will get resolved within the process.

In the end, every marriage is different and every divorce has slightly different circumstances. It is important for families and couples to find the right divorce process for them, should that time arise. There are legal professionals available to help everyone work through this tough time and find the right approach that sets them up for a successful resolution and fresh start. It is important for everyone going through a divorce to consider this new option because it could be right for them and their family. An experienced family attorney can guide someone towards the right process for their particular situation, whether it be the Collaborative Law Process or otherwise. It is important to note that the Collaborative Law Process is not limited to divorces. Couples needing a paternity action, or a post judgment action can also benefit from the Collaborative Process.

Article updated October 1, 2020.

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