Thinking about divorce is never easy even in the best of the best situation. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines divorce as the “ending of a marriage by a legal process.” But what about the emotional aspect of divorce? It’s hard enough having to take steps to walk through the legal process of divorce. So, let’s focus on a better way of getting a divorce through a combined legal and emotional approach that is respectful, amicable, and private. The Collaborative Law way.
What You Need to Know
What you need to know is that you have options on how to get a divorce. You can choose from eight (8) different ways which are as follows:
- Do-It-Yourself (Pro se)
- Kitchen-Table Plus
- One-Lawyer/One-Spouse Negotiations
- Two-Lawyer/Two-Spouse Negotiations
- Collaborative Process
- Traditional Courtroom Divorce
For the purposes of this article, we will focus on the Collaborative Divorce Process.
What is the Collaborative Divorce Process?
The Collaborative Process is the complete opposite of the courtroom process we see when thinking about divorce. This relatively new way of divorce is a process that promotes mutual respect between the spouses. They are empowered with total control throughout the process, and most importantly, they will stay out of court and out of conflict. Some of the added benefits using the Collaborative process are that it’s less expensive, confidential, private, and is interest-based driven during negotiations.
The Collaborative Divorce Process begins with a conversation you will have with your spouse to discuss this option and whether you both are willing to approach negotiations by working together collaboratively. If you both agree, the next step would be for each of you to hire a Collaboratively trained attorney. If needed, you would hire a financial neutral, and a mental health neutral/facilitator too. Once the Collaborative Divorce team is chosen, a Collaborative Law Participation Agreement would be signed by all. What’s important to know is that the Collaborative Law Process replaces the traditional courtroom process where you will have the final say and not a judge.
Who is Involved in the Collaborative Divorce Process?
It would be you and your spouse and a Collaborative team consisting of four professionals (i.e. a Collaborative Law attorney for each spouse, a mental health neutral facilitator and a financial neutral) to help the couple through the process of making decisions on the financial, emotional, and legal issues of a divorce. Each collaborative attorney methodically guides and assists their respective client through the process. The financial neutral helps the spouses gather the necessary financial records relating to their assets, liability, income and expenses, and may also help to perform analyses, valuations, including business valuations, and other work to help their respective attorneys create solutions for the settlement negotiations such as equitable distribution of assets, liabilities, alimony, and child support. The mental health professional is key in the process as the facilitator in helping the couple with parenting and children’s issues, as well as, helping the Collaborative team stay on course in a collaborative way, not conflictive.
What Happens if the Collaborative Divorce Process Fails?
If the Collaborative Divorce Process fails, the attorneys must resign from representing their clients and they will have to hire new legal representation. Therefore, the Collaborative attorneys have a very strong incentive to make this process work. A failed process will cost them more time, money, and energy and the new attorneys will have to learn everything from scratch.. Not a win-win situation.
Privacy vs Public
The Collaborative divorce process is a private process, not public. This is a huge benefit because everything takes place outside of the court system which is public. Because the Collaborative settlement process is private, all communications and work are confidential and never become part of the public record. Generally, there are a series of meeting during where the parenting and financial issues are address, different options are brainstormed, and decisions are made that meet each spouses’ respective goals and objectives. The meetings are client-centered and interactive which means the spouses set the pace and are in total control. During the process, each spouse is free to confer with their attorney, and/or the mental health professional, or financial neutral as needed. This whole process is meant to be a non-adversarial process that will help to preserve future relationships, especially when there are children involved.
Under Florida Law, the couples may use the Collaborative Law Process to settle their matters that are governed under the divorce statute (Chapter 61), and the paternity statute (Chapter 742). In 2016, The Florida Legislature enacted the Collaborative Law Process Act and, in 2017, the Florida Supreme Court adopted a specific procedural rule for the Collaborative Law Process, as well as, an ethical rule setting for the attorney’s duty to explain the process to their client. The end goal of the Collaborative Law Process is to have an amicable resolution. Currently, Florida statistics show a 90%+ success rate.
Why Estate Planning?
When you are thinking about divorce that is a good time to revisit your estate plan as you start a new chapter in your life. And, if you don’t have a plan, no worries because you can start one now. After your assets are equally distributed, it’s important to protect what you have for your loved ones. Estate planning addresses your tangible and intangible assets and to whom and how you want it to whether it be your kids, friends, significant other, and maybe even a new future spouse. Furthermore, if you were to become incapacitated, sick, involved in an accident, who will be the right person stepping in your shoes to make medical decisions on your behalf? What will be your legacy that you want others to remember you by?
This article is a service of Vázquez Law, PLLC. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That’s why we offer a PEACE Estate Planning Session, during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today at 305.440.1888 or visit our website: bvazquezlaw.com to get the process underway by scheduling a PEACE Estate Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.
Disclaimer: I am not your lawyer unless you have paid me for legal advice and we have signed an agreement. I am a licensed attorney in the state of Florida. The information provided here is solely for educational purposes only, and not legal advice. You should absolutely consult with a lawyer before making any legal decision for yourself or your family. If you do want to work with a lawyer, I strongly recommend considering a lawyer who has the heart of a counselor, and specific training on how to get families talking about hard subjects, with great ease.