Mediation & Collaborative Law

We are proud to announce that we are one of the first practitioners in Pasco County to be trained in Collaborative Divorce. The Collaborative process can provide families a gentler and more private alternative to the traditional divorce. It is an ideal process for those parties wishing to have a more child-centered divorce, or for families with substantial assets who desire more confidentiality or privacy than is had in the typical divorce. As an office, we encourage and promote the Collaborative Law process. Its goal is to maintain a co-parenting relationship between the parties even though the marriage/relationship is ending, thus allowing the parties to start the healing process and make the important decisions regarding their children and assets that have to be made. Please see http://www.collaborativepractice.com/ for more information on Collaborative Law.

We also offer mediation services for parties who want to resolve their divorce, paternity, or post-judgment issues with or without the assistance of attorneys. Mediation may be helpful in resolving pending litigation, as wells as matters not yet filed with the Courts. Our office makes every effort to schedule mediations as quickly as possible, so that cases may be resolved quickly, with less expense to the parties.

WHAT IS COLLABORATIVE LAW?

Collaborative Family Law is a method of resolving disputes where both parties and their attorneys agree to assist each other in resolving issues and conflicts, and reach agreements using cooperative strategies rather than adversarial litigation. The parties and attorneys agree that they will not go to court during the time they are working towards settlement. A key element of the collaborative process is that if an agreement is not reached, both attorneys withdraw and are not allowed to participate in court proceedings.

In other words:

  • Both parties and attorneys commit themselves to settle your case without court or the threat of going to court.
  • The goal is to reach a resolution which meets the needs and concerns of all the parties (and the minor children) in an equitable manner.
  • Timesharing issues are negotiated in a way that protects the children from the dispute.
  • The parties have access to an accountant & mental health professional, who help the parties through the process.
  • The parties and their attorneys sign a ‚ÄúParticipation Agreement‚ÄĚ which outlines the obligations and responsibilities of each towards the process.
  • The parties and attorneys agree that if either party violates the agreement by proceeding to court, both attorneys and the neutral professionals involved all must withdraw from the case.

Since the parties have usually resolved many issues before encountering a roadblock, have normally formed a strong barrier of trust with the attorneys and with the neutral professionals, and have learned better dispute resolution skills, there is a strong incentive to continue to discuss ideas to resolve the problem and move toward a settlement.

THE COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE TEAM & THE INTER-DISCIPLINARY MODEL

The Inter-Disciplinary Model provides for a collaborative divorce team consisting of two lawyers, a mental health professional, and a financial advisor to assist the couple. While this process may sound expensive, it is actually quite cost effective, especially when compared to the traditional divorce process.

The typical divorce has many complicated aspects. There are financial, legal and emotional considerations, and then there are issues involving children. A divorce is a multi task assignment. These tasks include not only reaching a legal division, but also the development of age-appropriate parenting plans, learning communication skills that will move spouses successfully along the road of co-parenting, and moving away from the blame/shame cycle. Financial tasks can be complicated by uncertainty about the structure of a financial settlement and the tax consequences of those decisions.

In the traditional model, lawyers are called upon to handle all of these tasks, which is impossible considering that lawyers are neither accountants, therapists or child specialists. As a result, the divorce becomes final but many issues often go unresolved. In a collaborative divorce, there are neither dueling lawyers nor dueling experts. The Collaborative Divorce model instead uses a collaborative team who provides containment for the couple as they go through the divorce transition. Within this model, clients are informed of their choices, with the involvement of different professionals such as lawyers, mental health professionals who act as divorce coaches, mental health professionals who act as neutral child specialists, and neutral financial specialists. These professionals help the couple make the best possible decisions for the children and their finances, utilizing all the resources they have.

WHAT ARE THE POTENTIAL BENEFITS OF COLLABORATIVE LAW?

  • Mutually agreed upon settlement
  • Create a working co-parenting relationship between the parties
  • Shield minor children from the harm of protracted litigation
  • Atmosphere of cooperation and problem-solving
  • Communication skills building
  • Anxiety reduction
  • Retaining control of the settlement process
  • Give both parties the ability to make educated, informed decisions about their assets and debts
  • No adversarial environment
  • Greater privacy and confidentiality
  • Savings of time and money