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What is the collaborative divorce process?

Since the passage of the Collaborative Law Process Act (CLPA) that took effect in the summer of 2017, many individuals throughout the state of Florida are wondering what exactly it is.

The CLPA is a method of resolving divorces and other family law matters. Instead of going to court, parties meet in an informal setting to work out a settlement agreement.

Each has an attorney present during the negotiations and, depending on the situation, they may also involve counselors, financial advisors, certified public accountants, parenting experts and other professionals to guide the couple in arriving at a settlement.

Benefits of collaboration

Family law advocates tout many benefits of the collaborative process. Unlike litigation, the process is confidential and all aspects of the negotiations and agreement are typically kept private.

Collaboration also allows parties to maintain control of the outcome of their situation, rather than allowing a family law judge to decide the fate of the family, including their parenting schedule and division of property.

Depending on the circumstances, the process can also be less costly and time consuming than traditional litigation.

Drawbacks to using the collaborative process

However, collaboration isn't for everyone. The collaborative process counts on both sides of the dispute to be honest, forthcoming and disclose assets and debts and other pertinent information. This could become an issue for divorcing parties who have encountered trust conflicts during the marriage or parties who demonstrate disrespect or hostility toward one another.

Further, if the parties are unable to settle on the terms of their divorce through the collaborative process, each of them may then be required to hire new attorneys to handle the litigation process. While this requirement creates a risk of increasing the financial costs and time commitments for achieving the divorce, it also acts as a deterrent to walking away from the collaborative process, and provides an incentive for parties to keep working toward resolution.

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