Florida divorce: consider collaboration as an alternative to litigation

On behalf of Mary Greenwood

Collaborative divorce is a relatively recent process developed in response to the adversarial experience in traditional divorce.

Many people approaching divorce are not aware of a modern alternative to the traditional divorce trial in which the judge decides all contested issues for the couple. That alternative is collaborative divorce, a more dignified process in which the divorcing spouses agree to settle their issues through respectful negotiation instead of in contentious litigation.

The process begins with the execution of a participation agreement in which the terms of collaboration are agreed to, mainly:

  • Both parties will act respectfully.
  • Both parties will voluntarily and transparently share all pertinent information such as details about income and assets.
  • The negotiation will occur in a series of four-way meetings with the parties and each of their attorneys.
  • Neutral experts may be retained to participate when needed, including financial or tax professionals, mental health professionals or divorce coaches who help the parties through emotional or communication gridlocks.
  • The procedure is confidential.
  • Both parties pledge to attempt to resolve all issues out of court and if the process fails, they must hire new lawyers to continue in a new divorce process like mediation or litigation.
  • The final agreement is submitted to the court to become part of the divorce order.
  • And more

Some of the supporting reasons to use collaboration include:

  • Less emotional trauma to the spouses and children
  • Better relationship after divorce, especially if the couple must continue to co-parent
  • Solutions may be creatively arrived at that would not happen in the court process.
  • Family matters remain private
  • Satisfaction of dignified behavior
  • Cheaper, in many cases
  • Faster, in many cases
  • Control over the schedule
  • And more

It is important for a divorcing Floridian to discuss the pros and cons of collaboration and other divorce processes in light of the particular family circumstances with an experienced attorney with special training in collaborative law. While it may be a good option, sometimes other choices may be preferred. For example, a spouse with a history of deceit, substance abuse, domestic abuse, control issues or explosive anger is not a good candidate for a collaborative negotiation partner.

This only scratches the surface of the collaborative process. Legal counsel can answer questions and provide more information.

From offices in Brandon, Florida, the lawyers of Brandon Family Law Center, LLC, represent divorce clients in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area and across the state in the collaborative process, in mediation and in traditional litigation.