Collaborative Family Law for Divorce
On August 24, 2021 by Eric Klein
No one gets married and expects the relationship to end. However, almost half of all marriages end in divorce and the rates are higher for those who are in their second or third marriage. Across the U.S., the most recent data available shows there were 746,971 divorces granted in 2019, and those statistics did not include California! The divorce rate in Florida is above the national average (3.5 per 1,000 people compared to 2.9 for the 45 states and Washington D.C. which submitted data). The number of divorces involving couples older than fifty more than doubled between 1990 and 2015. Most people enter into their marriages without prenuptial agreements in place, necessitating that decisions including the division of property and other assets be made during a particularly difficult time.
While the number of marriages ending in divorce is higher than previous generations, there are also more options to amicably end the relationship without resorting to costly and painful courtroom litigation. Uncontested divorces are rare, but more couples are pursuing mediation or a collaborative divorce process. What is the difference between the two? Mediation involves only one party working to help the spouses through the divorce process and arranging for an equitable distribution of property and assets, alimony, child custody and other issues. The mediator will attempt to find a mutually agreeable solution to the various aspects of divorce and may present options to consider. However, they will not provide you with legal advice regarding whether the proposed arrangements are in your best interest. There are often unforeseen circumstances that individuals will not anticipate or plan for without an experienced family law attorney to advocate for the best possible outcome for you.
Collaborative divorce is similar to mediation, but involves each spouse retaining the services of a lawyer who has been specially trained in the collaborative process. Not all family law attorneys are qualified to practice collaborative law, which is recognized by courts in Florida and across the country to approve divorces without the need for litigation and all of the added time, fees and pain associated with going to court. Since 2017, the Florida state legislature has codified collaborative divorce procedures in state statutes. If both spouses are committed to making good faith efforts to find an amicable resolution while avoiding time in court, collaborative divorce is an increasingly popular option to consider.
Many people realize that ending a marriage is the best path forward for both spouses but do not want to cause undue stress and hardship for the other party or their loved ones, especially the children. The breakup of one’s parents is documented to cause adverse effects for the children of divorcees and the issues are exacerbated when acrimonious circumstances exist between the former couple. Partners who are intending to divorce can often mitigate these negative consequences by coming to a clear arrangement for how life will continue for themselves, their children and their material assets after the dissolution is finalized. People who wish to follow this route but prefer to have an attorney present to give advice and advocate on their behalf will choose the collaborative divorce process. A family law attorney can also help facilitate the disclosure of all financial information and any other documentation which would be beneficial for your position.
In a collaborative divorce, both parties and their attorneys will sign a “participation agreement” which outlines the good faith efforts for each side to reach a resolution. A series of in-person meetings will be held to exchange information and proposals that will be part of the final divorce agreement that is presented to the court. The agreement stipulates that the proceedings will remain confidential, which may be advantageous for people who do not want their assets and personal information to be disclosed in public records as part of a divorce case which is handled in the courts. Someone who has filed for divorce may request a stay in the case while attempting to work out a collaborative agreement. Only one party is needed to end the collaborative process, making it entirely voluntarily.
People opting for a collaborative divorce may bring other people into the meetings to help facilitate an agreement. In addition to each party’s respective attorneys, couples may obtain impartial assistance from neutral mediators, tax advisors, financial planners and other relevant professionals to gather and clarify pertinent information. Couples who have children may also seek the expertise and advice of child psychologists with respect to custody and visitation matters in order to focus on the best interests of the children. Working towards a shared agreement allows each party to have greater influence and control over the final outcome as opposed to being at the mercy of a judge.
By using collaborative divorce proceedings as an alternative to traditional court cases, couples benefit from greater schedule flexibility in their meetings which often saves valuable time along with saving thousands of dollars in the process. The attorneys will assist with drafting and filing all necessary paperwork related to the agreement and the official dissolution of the marriage. It is important to note that if a settlement cannot be reached without court intervention, then the attorneys involved with the collaborative process will be disqualified from the representing either party during litigation and each spouse will be forced to retain new counsel.
DON’T LEAVE YOUR FAMILY’S FUTURE TO CHANCE
While it can be tempting to negotiate your family’s legal situation on your own, unforeseen issues can bring about serious, long-lasting consequences. Your choice of a legal team is important. Klein Law Group and our Boca Raton collaborative family lawyers have helped many families navigate the changes presented by divorce, earning our firm an Excellent Avvo Rating.
Reach out to our team of highly skilled Boca Raton divorce attorneys today at 561-353-2800 to schedule your free consultation. We are dedicated to helping you make the decisions that will help you transition into a new, more positive phase of your life.