Florida Enacts Collaborative Divorce Law
Florida Governor Rick Scott signed HB 967, which is entitled “Collaborative Law Process Act,” into law on March 24, 2016. In doing so, Florida joins an increasing number of other states who already have enacted legislation permitting collaborative divorces. Before the Act becomes effective, however, the Florida Supreme Court must approve and adopt Rules of Procedure and Rules of Professional Conduct to govern the collaborative divorce process.
Defining Collaborative Divorce
The collaborative divorce process is a form of alternative dispute resolution by which parties attempt to resolve all issues in their divorce outside of the courtroom. Each party must agree to the process, and each party has his or her own attorney, whose goal also is to reach an individualized agreement that meets the family’s needs. A team of professionals is assembled during a collaborative divorce, including a mental health professional or counselor, as well as a financial professional. The counselor will facilitate the discussions between the parties and engage the rest of the team as needed to help resolve any outstanding issues.
Collaborative Divorce and Confidentiality
At the beginning of a collaborative divorce, the parties and their attorneys enter into an agreement to participate in the process. Part of this agreement establishes a sort of privilege, which provides that the parties cannot disclose the negotiations that occurred during the collaborative divorce process, except under very limited circumstances. The attorneys who participate in the collaborative divorce also are restricted from acting as anything other than settlement counsel. In other words, they are prohibited from doing research or preparing for a court hearing in your case. These restrictions prevent those attorneys from later representing the parties in court if they fail to completely resolve their divorce through the collaborative process.
Elements of Collaborative Divorce
Most divorces center on decisions about children and money. With the help of a counselor or other facilitator, you can work with your ex to create a comprehensive parenting plan that best meets your family’s needs. From which school the children will attend to whom is responsible for providing child care during summer break, your parenting plan has to address all concerns that you have about your children and devise a way that both parents can share in everyday parenting aspects. With respect to deciding financial issues during a collaborative divorce, a financial planner or accountant is part of your team. This individual can help you work through dividing up property and debts, as well as establishing child support and spousal support, in a manner that protects the financial security of both spouses to the greatest extent possible.
Get the Professional Legal Advice That You Need in Your Divorce Proceedings
If you are considering divorce or separation from your spouse in the state of Florida, you need to explore all of the options that are available to you, including the possibility of going through the collaborative divorce process. An experienced family law attorney can guide you through the options for dissolving your marriage and help you make the decisions that are best for you and your family. Contact Vanessa L. Prieto Law Offices, LLC, today and see what we can do to help.