Navigating Divorce the Collaborative Way: A Guide for New Florida Residents

By: Carol Ann Mazza Date Posted: October 26, 20231:01 am

Navigating Divorce the Collaborative Way: A Guide for New Florida Residents

Introduction

The first association with the mention of divorce is a prolonged court battle, increased stress, anxiety, and further deterioration of relationships. However, there is a better way out of divorce disputes involving collaboration instead of focusing on adversarial confrontation.

An alternative approach, known as Collaborative Divorce, offers an opportunity to resolve disagreements out of court, allowing couples to reach mutually beneficial outcomes with the guidance of legal professionals.

This article will delve into the specifics of CollaborativeCollaborative DivorceDivorce and compare it with traditional divorce proceedings. Next, we will offer a comprehensive guide to its legal, procedural, and emotional aspects to new Florida residents who might be considering it. Read on to learn more!

Collaborative Divorce in Brief

Collaborative DivorceDivorce is an out-of-court method involving couples and their attorneys who work together toward a mutually agreeable divorce arrangement, taking into account both parties needs and goals and the needs and goals of the family. Each party in CollaborativeCollaborative DivorceDivorce hires an attorney, but unlike litigation, they act in concert and cooperate to bring positive outcomes for their clients.  It is non-adversarial advocacy.  Collaborative DivorceDivorce would not be as effective without experts from various fields (accountants, financial specialists, appraisers, psychologists, child specialists, etc.) assisting parties and their lawyers in building an accurate factual foundation from which they can work toward a dispute-resolving settlement.

How Collaborative Divorce Compares with Traditional Divorce Proceedings

Traditional litigated divorce involves an adversarial process in which parties take opposite sides, throwing legal arguments at each other and trying to persuade the judge and the jury of the accuracy of their claims. Despite investing utmost efforts to win the case, the outcome is out of the parties’ control. A state-appointed judge imposes mandatory decisions resolving the dispute in which one party always gets out as a loser. Traditional litigation is a zero-sum game involving high stress, increased costs, and uncertainty over the outcome.

Unlike traditional divorce, the Collaborative approach offers parties a sense of agency over their destinies, reducing stress through flexible and cooperative interactions and opening endless opportunities through constructive negotiations.

Legal Aspects of Collaborative Divorce in Florida

The first question newly arrived residents ask is if Florida law recognizes Collaborative Divorce and whether the agreement reached through the Collaborative process is legally binding in the Sunshine State. Here are the answers:

  • Recognition and Legality of Collaborative Divorce in Florida

Florida law recognizes Collaborative Divorce as a legitimate method for resolving marital disputes. Florida’s Collaborative Law Process Act, section 61.56, Florida Statutes (came into effect July 1, 2017), and Rule 12.745 of the Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure regulate the Collaborative process. The statutes and rules ensure that the divorce proceedings are within the established legal guidelines and promote a cooperative and less contentious environment.

  • Legally Binding Agreements in a Collaborative Divorce

Settlements parties reach through Collaborative negotiations are legally binding in Florida. The agreement, covering various aspects of divorce (marital property division, child custody and support, alimony, etc.), is obligatory and enforceable in court after signing.

The Timeframe: Is Collaborative Divorce More Time-Effective Than Traditional Methods

Another vital aspect to look at when considering Collaborative Divorce is its time-effectiveness. Is it that much better than litigation?

  • Duration of a Collaborative Divorce in Florida

The duration of a Collaborative Divorce varies depending on the circumstances surrounding each case, but it is safe to say that it far surpasses litigation in terms of time effectiveness. An average Collaborative process in Florida takes less than six months (78% of the cases), while over 91% of divorces are complete in less than nine months. In 85% of the cases, Collaborative Divorces end in a comprehensive agreement.

  • Comparison of Timeline with Conventional Divorce

The above data shows a stark contrast between Collaborative Divorce and litigation. The traditional court-based process can last for years. Couples must wait for months to get an initial court hearing date. It may take several years and considerable costs to go from the initial court appearance to the final resolution of their dispute.

Benefits of Choosing a Collaborative Divorce in Florida

Benefits of Choosing a Collaborative Divorce in Florida

Opting for a Collaborative Divorce instead of a contentious litigation offers many benefits. Some are evident during the process itself, while others become visible in the post-divorce period.

  • Cost, Emotional Well-being, and Control-related Advantages

Unlike heated court battles, Collaborative Divorce plays out in an amicable environment where parties can express their emotions and concerns without fear of consequences. That can help to reduce anxiety and produce positive overall effects. Furthermore, parties engaging in a Collaborative process are behind the steering wheel, determining the dynamics and the outcome. A sense of agency over their destiny offers invaluable emotional well-being benefits. Finally, the process is cost-friendly due to reduced court appearances, streamlined process, and lower attorney fees. That allows the parties to allocate resources to build a better and more stable post-divorce future for themselves and their children.

  • The Post-Divorce Benefits of a More Amicable Process

In addition to the benefits, you feel during the process, Collaborative Divorce offers long-term advantages that can help you live a happy and fulfilled life long after divorce. Ending the marriage in an uncontested, out-of-court setting helps spouses retain mutual respect and continue their relationship in co-parenting roles. Such a transition into post-divorce reality benefits children the most.

Finding a Collaborative Divorce Lawyer in Florida

Not all Collaborative professionals are experts in their craft. The right Collaborative lawyer can be effective between successful outcomes and wasted time and energy. Here are the tips on how to choose the best of the best:

  • Search the local bar associations databases. Scan their member lists and look for Collaborative attorneys with specialized training and relevant experience.
  • Perform online research. Check the local Collaborative organizations’ websites and see their clients’ reviews.
  • Ask for referrals from friends and family. First-hand experiences provide more accurate insights into prospective attorney’s practice.
  • Conduct in-person interviews. Schedule conversations with the best candidates to see if their values, work ethics, and communication styles resonate with you.

Child Custody in Collaborative Divorce in Florida

One of the dilemmas many new Floridians have about Collaborative Divorce is whether you can settle child related issues out-of-court. Let us find out.

  • Determining Child Custody in a Collaborative Divorce Setting

Child custody is one of the divorce issues that couples can work towards agreement on during the Collaborative process. Florida law allows parents to negotiate the terms of shared parenting plans, defining visitation schedules and other details of child custody. Although judges should pay special attention to child-related issues during litigation, they often lack the time and resources to deal with each case with the same devotion. The Collaborative approach allows parents to fix that by providing resources for parents to create a plan that supports the child’s emotional and physical well-being. 

  • Focus on the Best Interests of the Child and Cooperative Decision-making

The best interests of the child are the standard in all child-related proceedings. But unlike litigation, Collaborative law encourages cooperative decision-making, minimizing the negative impact of divorce on children and maintaining a healthy parent-child relationship.

What Happens If the Collaborative Divorce Process Fails?

Collaborative Divorce is not an omnipotent method for resolving every possible divorce dispute. As with any human-made procedure, it can fail to achieve its initial purpose. See what happens when Collaborative efforts end unsuccessfully.

  • Options and Steps if the Collaborative Process Breaks Down

If the Collaborative process breaks down, couples are encouraged to choose other out-of-court methods, such as mediation or arbitration.  The Collaborative team will work hard to help avoid a break down, sometimes calling in a mediator to help the couple get back on track.  Of course, litigation is always available as a last resort.   It is worth noting that all discussions and information you shared during Collaborative sessions remain confidential. No one can use the settlement discussions as evidence in court or within other dispute resolution procedures.

  • Transitioning to Court-based Proceedings and Associated Implications

Transitioning to a court-based divorce or initiating an alternative dispute resolution process can slow down the dynamics of your case, prolonging the timeline and increasing the costs. But regardless of the implication, finalizing the divorce by achieving a resolution is crucial for the disputed spouse and their children.

Resources for Couples Considering Collaborative Divorce in Florida

Couples contemplating or undergoing the Collaborative Divorce process in Florida have numerous resources available, including professional associations, Collaborative practice groups, and online platforms. Relying on these resources and letting professionals help you navigate the process can make your out-of-court divorce experience smoother and more enjoyable.

Key Takeaways

Key Takeaways

  • In contrast to the adversarial nature of traditional litigated divorce, Collaborative Divorce focuses on cooperation and mutual benefit.
  • Collaborative Divorce is legally recognized in Florida, providing a less contentious environment for divorce proceedings.
  • Collaborative Divorce is more time-effective compared to traditional litigation (lasting less than six months).
  • Cost-effectiveness and reduced emotional stress, as well as a sense of control, are key advantages of Collaborative Divorce, in addition to post-divorce benefits (maintaining mutual respect and better co-parenting relationships).
  • To find the right Collaborative lawyer, check with local bar associations, perform online research, use referrals, and conduct in-person interviews.
  • Collaborative Divorce allows couples to negotiate child custody arrangements, encouraging cooperative decision-making and focusing on the best interests of the child.
  • If Collaborative Divorce efforts fail, couples can consider transitioning to other out-of-court dispute resolution methods or litigation.
  • Couples in Florida contemplating Collaborative Divorce can benefit from various resources such as professional associations, Collaborative practice groups, and online platforms.

Secure Your Family’s Well-being: Reach Out to Carolann Mazza for Collaborative Divorce Guidance

Collaborative Divorce in Florida offers an amicable and efficient way out of divorce disputes. Top-notch Collaborative lawyers focus on the needs and interests of all participants, providing them with stress-free experiences and creative and mutually beneficial solutions.

However, not all Collaborative attorneys are the same. To reap the full benefits of out-of-court experience, you must invest utmost efforts in searching for the best lawyer, like looking for a needle in a haystack. Luckily, you are in the right place. Seek no more because you just found an attorney who will help you understand the legal aspects of Collaborative Divorce, its benefits, and available resources and provide you with a cooperative and respectful approach to divorce.

A Supreme Court of Florida certified family mediator and Collaborative lawyer, Carolann Mazza, has been encouraging South Florida couples to take control over their future for over two decades.

Empower your future with Carolann Mazza - schedule your consultation today! Call 954-527-4604 or email us at carolann@cmazzalaw.com to learn what is best for you and your family.