On March 24, 2016, Governor Rick Scott signed into law Florida's Collaborative Divorce Act.
Collaborative divorce is a less adversarial, less expensive and more private way for individuals to obtain a divorce in the state of Florida. Each party in a divorce that is collaborative retains the services of a specially trained attorney. A mental health professional is retained by the parties to assist them in getting through the emotional aspects of the transition of their marital relationship into a divorce relationship and to assist them in resolving child-related issues. When financial issues are involved, the couple will retain the services of a neutral financial professional whose role is to obtain the necessary financial data, analyze it, and provide financial options for the financial issues in the parties' divorce. The parties and the professionals meet together to identify the issues in dispute and to assist the parties to resolve their own case. In other words, the parties themselves control their own documents, information and destiny. This is confidential to outsiders as opposed to litigation in the public courtroom where their financial information also can be accessed and reviewed by the public.
Because the process is voluntary, either party can terminate the collaborative law process at any time. If the process is terminated, the attorneys are disqualified from representing the parties in a later contested litigation. The neutral professionals cannot be deposed or forced to testify in subsequent litigation.
A collaborative divorce offers significant advantages over the traditional litigation model. Some of those advantages include:
- The parties have more control over their outcome. Instead of placing their destiny in the hands of a judge who is a stranger to both of them, their families, and their needs, the parties can voice their opinions, can vocalize their needs and desires and know that they will be heard;
- The process takes less time than the traditional litigated divorce because the parties choose the time and the place for their meetings instead of dealing with the slow timetable of the congested divorce courts trial dockets;
- The goal is to reach a settlement before any papers are filed in divorce court. It is less expensive than litigation. Anyone familiar with a litigated divorce knows that attorney's fees and court costs can add up quickly. Studies done around the United States demonstrate that a divorce that is collaborative can be anywhere from 30 percent (30%) to 70 percent (70%) less expensive than the cost of a similar litigated case;
- The parties provide all documents and information necessary to generate options to resolve the issues in their case.
- Blame and punishment are not part of the discussion. The parties and professionals are to communicate with each other in a respective fashion;
- You focus on maintaining a civil working relationship with your children and your children’s needs will be respected and valid; and
- All settlement discussions are private;
Consequently, divorces that are collaborative work well for individuals who wish to keep their divorce private, wish to have a process that is less traumatic for their children, wish to preserve a civil and respectful relationship with each other subsequent to a divorce, and wish to have a less expensive procedure.
With the passage of the new law, Floridians have a government approved more therapeutic alternative to resolving their disintegrating relationships or marriages other than battling it out in a courtroom.
Board Certified Marital and Family Law Attorney Charles D. Jamieson understands that divorce is an extremely sensitive and important issue. Thanks to extensive experience and a focus on open communication, Attorney Jamieson adeptly addresses the complex issues surrounding divorce while delivering excellent personal service. To discuss your collaborative divorce, please contact The Law Firm of Charles D. Jamieson, P.A. online or call 561-478-0312.