Collaborative divorce is a special hybrid of amicable divorce in Florida.
The Three Major Pieces Of A Collaborative Divorce
Collaborative divorce in Florida is defined by three major pieces.
Rules of the Game
The first part is a very strict agreement by both parties as to what the rules of the game are going to be.
For example, in a collaborative divorce, you often find the parties signing a contract or agreement at the beginning of the case that says they will act in a certain manner and the parties will work together to coordinate a series of one to four meetings. These meetings will be approximately two to four weeks apart.
In the first meeting, the parties will meet to discuss preliminary considerations.
At the second meeting, the parties will go over temporary relief issues.
And at the third and the fourth meetings, the parties will try to resolve their case.
Agreement Between the Parties to Not Go to Court
The second piece of a collaborative divorce or collaborative divorce is defined by an agreement between the parties to not go to court.
This is unique because, in any other way you go through the divorce process, the default process is the parties getting together and going to court, filing a case, and then doing either mediation or actually going in front of the judge.
But in a collaborative divorce, you actually agree not to go to court. And the genius of it is that in the agreement it states that if the collaborative process fails and you do have to go to court, you end up losing your attorney.
So, you’re vested in this process. Actually, both parties are vested — so both parties really, really want to get a deal done. That’s why collaborative divorce has something like a 95-98% success rate.
Utilizing Neutral Professionals
The third component of a collaborative divorce is a focus on utilizing neutral professionals.
Each party will have his or her own attorney. But unlike other divorce processes where Mom might have her own accountant and Dad might have his own financial guy, in the collaborative process the parties jointly hire neutral experts (i.e. a neutral accountant) to work together with both parties to help everyone understand everything that is going on; basically, to keep things transparent.
Collaborative divorce also often utilizes a professional called a facilitator, who is usually a mental health professional. The facilitator often guides the four collaborative divorce meetings.
So instead of having one of the attorneys guide the meeting, it’s this neutral party who will sit at the front of the table and be the facilitator to guide the meetings. And having somebody with a mental health background can be really beneficial, especially in cases where there are high emotions.
More About The Benefits Of A Collaborative Divorce
The benefits of collaborative divorce include the cost; it’s almost a cost-protective measure.
However, a collaborative divorce is not necessarily the cheapest option — because you are engaging a lot of professionals and it can take months to get things done.
But you don’t have that risk of things going astray; there isn’t any unnecessary litigation, in fact, there’s usually no litigation. There isn’t a lot of running around and doing those traditional lawyer things where people are filing this pleading and that pleading.
And perhaps most importantly, especially with the neutral facilitator involved and because of the rules of the game, we often don’t see people spiraling out of control — which is the biggest concern in divorce, somebody just basically losing their shit for a period of time and causing all this unnecessary litigation and back-and-forth.
And another benefit of collaborative divorce is that it is an amicable process where people often come out of the process feeling as good as they can be given the circumstances. Nobody wants to have a divorce, nobody wants the marriage to fail, but it’s not uncommon at the end of a collaborative process for the parties to shake hands or even give each other hugs. This is especially important when there are children involved and the parties will have future co-parenting responsibilities.