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What is a collaborative process divorce in Florida?

In July of this year, Florida's new Collaborative Law Process Act (CLPA) went into effect. The CLPA is an alternative method to resolving family matters without court involvement. Just as it implies, it is a form of collaborating and negotiating that does not involve litigation.

The CLPA can be used in any family matter dispute that would normally require litigation in a court proceeding. Divorces, child custody agreements, agreement modifications or family disputes could all be resolved by the collaborative process in lieu of a court hearing.

How does the collaborative process work?

Each party, along with their attorneys -- who are trained in the collaborative process -- meet together to respectfully negotiate a solution to their issue or issues. All parties sign a Participation Agreement pledging not to use the court for any of their proceedings. The agreement also includes a clause stating that if the parties cannot reach a solution or settlement, the attorneys must withdraw and cannot litigate the matter in court.

If coming to a solution or settlement requires additional professionals, other resources are brought into the process and work together as a team. This may include financial experts, certified public accountants, counselors, or mental health professionals.

What are the benefits of using the collaborative process for a divorce?

According to the president of the Florida Academy of Collaborative Professionals, married couples can "divorce with dignity, privacy and without destroying their family." Other benefits include:

  • Privacy: The negotiations are private and confidential; in court proceedings, all information is public record.
  • Client-controlled: Participants can control how fast or slow the process moves and who is involved.
  • Cost-effective: Less expensive than court litigation.
  • Child-centered: When children are involved, their best interests are protected by professionals on the team.
  • Respectful: The experts and professionals are trained in mediation and keeping family relationships intact.
  • Team-oriented: A team of experts are all working towards the same goal -- a successful settlement between the parties.

Whether couples considering divorce choose to use the collaborative process or not, it is an option that is now available to them. The most important fact in any divorce proceedings is to work with your respective attorney to come to a reasonable settlement with your soon-to-be ex, and to do it with as little stress as possible, keeping an amicable perspective in mind.

Source: FACP (Florida Academy of Collaborative Professionals), "Groundbreaking Florida Collaborative Divorce Law Effective July 1, 2017," accessed Dec. 6, 2017

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