By The Law Offices of Ronald H. Kauffman of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Agreements on Monday, May 16, 2016.

Divorce is not easy. Fortunately, Florida has joined several other states adopting the Collaborative Law Process, an alternative to traditional notions that divorce must be a war. Here’s what is involved.

I’ve written about various types of alternatives to traditional divorce cases. Under the new collaborative law, the following issues are subject to resolution through the collaborative law process:

-Marriage, divorce, dissolution, annulment, and marital property distribution;

-Child custody, visitation, parenting plans, and parenting time;

-Alimony, maintenance, child support;

-Parental relocation with a child;

-Premarital, marital, and post-marital agreements; and

-Paternity.

There was a recent article in the Tampa Bay Times about the collaborative process and the new law. The Collaborative Law Process Act creates a pathway toward a more civil and less contentious way for couples to change the status of their relationships.

Essentially, each spouse retains a specially trained collaborative attorney. Then, both parties would hire a mental health professional – to guide both of them toward an emotional outcome – and an independent financial adviser.

Then, everyone – the spouses, their attorneys, and the retained professionals – sit down and examine all the relevant issues. Everyone shares documents and information.

This process is private and confidential in stark contrast to a litigated divorce, where testimony and evidence may be considered to be in the public domain.

It is a voluntary process, and all issues are explored and settled via negotiation. Either party can put an end to the collaborative process at any time, but there are consequences to that; if litigation follows a failed collaborative process, neither lawyer can represent their client in the litigation, and the professionals cannot be deposed or testify in that action.

Therefore, unlike any other alternative dispute resolution process, the lawyers “have skin” in working toward resolution versus conflict.

Collaborative law is a new way of doing business for everyone involved. But, there are a few steps that remain before the statutes created by the Collaborative Law Process Act become effective.

The Florida Bar must submit the collaborative rules of procedure and rules of professional conduct that lawyers in the state must follow in order to practice collaborative law, to the Florida Supreme Court for approval and implementation, making the collaborative process more accessible for Florida families.

The Tampa Bay Times article is here.