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About Collaborative Family Law

Collaborative Law is a process that enables divorcing couples and couples involved in other family law
disputes, each represented by counsel, to resolve their differences in a non­adversarial setting.

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HOW DOES THE COLLABORATIVE LAW PROCESS WORK?

Collaborative Law, also known as Collaborative Practice is a non-adversarial form of alternative dispute resolution that operates in an environment grounded in good faith, cooperation, integrity, honesty and professional ethics to facilitate the resolution of the couple’s differences without the threat of litigation. Although Collaborative Practice is a legal process, in the Collaborative Divorce process, the couple and a team of specially trained Collaborative Professionals, including neutral Mental Health and Financial Professionals, as needed, enter into a contract called a tyticipation Agreement wherein they agree to work together to achieve a satisfactory settlement in a cooperative manner without court intervention. (Also see the Statement of Principles of Collaborative Law.)

The cornerstone of the Participation Agreement is that if the matter does not resolve, the lawyers must withdraw from the case and can never represent their clients in court. The participants voluntarily disclose all relevant information and agree to cooperatively resolve all issues outside of litigation. Settlement is accomplished through informal discussions, settlement conferences, mediations and other amicable alternatives. Collaborative Family Law Professionals more efficiently and effectively work together toward settling your case rather than preparing for and conducting a trial, resulting in savings, financially, emotionally and relationally for divorcing couples and their family. The Collaborative process can also be utilized to resolve other legal matters including the drawing up of pre and post-marital contracts, and disputes outside of the family law arena.


WHAT ARE THE POTENTIAL BENEFITS OF COLLABORATIVE LAW?

– Non-adversarial atmosphere of cooperation and reduced conflict
– A team of specially trained professionals with expertise in law, finance, and mental health working together to assist families
– Improved communication
– Improved co-parenting relationships (when applicable)
– Retaining control of the settlement process
– The couple makes decisions together toward a mutually agreed upon settlement, instead of a judge who knows nothing about your family
– Greater privacy and confidentiality
Savings of time, money and family relationships


WHAT HAPPENS IF SETTLEMENT CANNOT BE REACHED?

Both lawyers (and potentially the entire professional team) must withdraw from the case. The lawyers will assist the couple in finding new counsel who can pursue their case in court, and will work to make a smooth transition for their clients.


HOW DO I START A COLLABORATIVE LAW PROCESS?

Share this information with your spouse and encourage him or her to also hire an attorney who is familiar with and committed to the collaborative law process. The attorneys can then confer and schedule the first meeting to review your situation and sign a participation agreement if the collaborative approach is appropriate for your case.


MY SPOUSE HAS ALREADY INITIATED A LEGAL PROCEEDING. IS IT STILL POSSIBLE FOR US TO USE THE COLLABORATIVE LAW PROCESS?

Yes. If your spouse’s lawyer will agree to utilize the collaborative law process, the action can be dismissed or abated.


WHO IS A COLLABORATIVE FAMILY LAWYER?

In Florida, a collaborative family lawyer is a member in good standing of The Florida Bar who is committed to the process of dissolving marriages and resolving family law matters through non-litigation alternatives. Collaborative Facilitators are licensed mental health professionals who have the background, education, and training to assist families transitioning through divorce. Neutral Financial Professionals are generally CPA’s who also have specialized training in working with families in divorce.

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