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Collaborative Divorce Law Goes Into Effect in Florida

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Last month, The Collaborative Law Process Act (CLPA), went into effect in Florida after the Supreme Court officially adopted the Florida Bar’s Rules and Professional Responsibilities on the Collaborative Process. The new law creates an alternative to litigation in family law matters that focuses on resolving differences through voluntary settlement and mediation rather than litigation in a courtroom setting. While the collaborative divorce process allows many couples to dissolve their marriage privately and with as little disruption to their lives as possible, this method is not right for every family. To learn more about the collaborative process and whether it is right for you and your family, please call us today to speak with an experienced divorce lawyer who can address your concerns.

What is the Collaborative Process? 

Parties who choose to attempt the collaborative process must each retain an attorney who will help represent their interests. Both parties and their attorneys then meet, both jointly and privately, to negotiate a settlement regarding the issues in question, which could relate to any of the following topics:

  • Division of marital property;
  • Child support;
  • Alimony;
  • Parental relocation;
  • Paternity;
  • Premarital agreements; and
  • Child custody and visitation.

The parties will also be required to sign a Participation Agreement, which includes a commitment to refrain from using court proceedings and to focus on reaching an out-of-court settlement. Although the parties are required to sign an agreement, they are also permitted to terminate the process at any time, with or without cause.

During negotiations, the parties will be accompanied by their attorneys as well as facilitators who can help them remain focused on reaching a peaceful settlement. Usually this group of professionals includes financial experts, parenting specialists, a divorce coach, and in some cases, a business valuation expert. After a series of meetings, the parties will either come to an agreement, which is recorded and then presented to a judge for approval, or will agree to resolve the issues in court.

Concluding the Process  

Although the Florida Legislature passed the CLPA with the hope that it would help encourage peaceful negotiations between spouses, the reality is that some issues cannot be resolved through collaboration. For this reason, the law includes a provision stating that a collaborative law process can be concluded for any of the following reasons:

  • The parties have reached a resolution and signed an agreement;
  • The parties have resolved some of the collaborative matters and have agreed that the remaining issues will be resolved in court; or
  • The collaborative process has been terminated.

A termination has occurred when one of the parties:

  • Gives notice to the other that the process is concluded;
  • Begins a proceeding related to a collaborative matter without the parties’ consent;
  • Files a motion with a court in a pending proceeding that is related to a collaborative matter;
  • Requests that the proceeding be placed on a court’s calendar; or
  • Discharges an attorney.

The parties are also permitted to include their own stipulations for concluding the process in the Participation Agreement.

Contact an Experienced Divorce Lawyer Today  

Collaborative divorces are a good option for those looking to save money and avoid contention and numerous court appearances. To find out if this process is right for you, please contact Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. in Fort Lauderdale at 954-945-7591.

Resource:

leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=0000-0099/0061/Sections/0061.56.html

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