Collaborative Law is a highly evolved process designed to help families resolve their family law disputes, however difficult, in a respectful, honest, reasonable, and dignified atmosphere. The Family Law court system is often a horribly ineffective tool in which to resolve the problems faced by a family mired in divorce. For many years, family law attorneys have watched their clients throw away extraordinary amounts of money and suffer immeasurable anxiety and grief litigating their family law issues and ending with a family in financial and emotional ruin without any real or clear evidence of a "winner." This is why finding the right family and divorce attorney in Orlando FL is a must.
Collaborative professionals receive specialized training in the resolution of disputes without the use of adversarial tactics, without deception, and without posturing; all of which are tactics utilized in the litigation model. Instead, the atmosphere created by a commitment to the Collaborative Law process allows spouses and their lawyers the freedom to break away from a warrior mentality and to, instead, use their efforts, knowledge, resources and energies towards crafting a more creative and mutually advantageous property, support, and custody arrangement.
When litigation is not an option, creativity and flexibility can more readily take place with the help and support of your Collaborative Team. Let us take a look at who would make up that Team:
The Collaborative Law Model in effect in Central Florida always involves the use of a collaboratively trained neutral Mental Health Professional (MHP) to serve as the team leader. The MHP’s involvement is absolutely fundamental to a successful collaborative process. While the MHP is not providing therapeutic services to either of the parties within or outside of the process, they are providing the key leadership role to the Team and are the "keepers of the Collaborative Process" by ensuring that the spouses and other professionals are meeting their obligations between meetings, that there is a proper agenda, that meetings start and end on time, that there are minutes, and that the Process remains in place – in short, the MHP’s "run the show." Along with providing key leadership, the role of the neutral MHP is to help the spouses and the Team as a whole identify and address the emotional and fear-based issues that stand in the way of resolution and to pave the way for the spouses to find creative solutions and final resolution.
In most cases we also utilize a Neutral Financial Professional (NFP). The NFP’s services, input and knowledge are often crucial in educating the spouses and the Team as a whole about important financial matters, assisting the team in gathering and organizing financial information, helping with cash and income projections, analyzing tax issues, and helping the team develop options for settlement. The skills and ideas our NFPs bring to the table are often crucial to finding a resolution and is far superior to each party trying to out-smart (and out-spend) the other with their respective financial experts or each paying their own lawyer and their staff to organize, synthesize and process the same information.
In the Collaborative Law model used in Central Florida, each party has their own lawyer. The lawyer is not a "neutral" team member. That means that there is still an attorney/client privilege and that we are still charged with advising our client, with helping them understand what to expect in the process and the range of reasonableness of outcomes, and advocating for the client when necessary as any Orlando divorce attorney would be obligated to do. However, the methods used by the lawyers to achieve this set of responsibilities are very different from those used within the litigation model. The lawyers are expected to serve their client's interests through the Collaborative Team method which involves openness, creative brainstorming, and often the presentation of information and ideas to the parties through strategic pre-planning and transparency with the Professional Team.
Just because you are going through a divorce does not mean that there needs to be chaos for you, your spouse and your family as a whole. We want you to know that there is an alternative to the old-fashioned litigation model and that, even when things get difficult within the Collaborative Law process, your Professional Team is specially trained and committed to helping you both find the solutions that work best for you and your family. The first crucial piece is for each spouse to hire a collaboratively trained attorney. The Collaborative Family Law Group of Central Florida website has a list of lawyers who have successfully completed the approximately 2 day training required to join that very active and dynamic group. It is our hope that a discussion with your spouse and the sharing of the information here will result in an interest in this process for you both, even if fear, emotions and anxiety is running high. If unsure about the process after each spouse meets with their individual Collaborative lawyer, we can often arrange for a separate meeting with one or both of the preferred neutral professionals to further assist in deciding if the Collaborative Process is right for you. Call our family and divorce attorney in Orlando Florida for more information.
Once both parties and their attorneys have agreed to handle this as a Collaborative case, the neutrals are engaged and a Collaborative Law Participation Agreement is signed. This agreement commits both spouses and the professionals to the process. If one or the other spouse decides later that they wish to take the case through the court system, set hearings, and generally engage in a litigation model divorce, the professionals who were engaged within the Collaborative Process go away and the parties start over. This means that neutrals disengage and that all of their hard work and work-product goes with them. It also means that, under the terms of the Collaborative Law Agreement, the spouses must start over with new legal counsel. While this may feel uncomfortable at first, this very important provision serves as an "insurance policy" for the spouses and the team as a whole for when conversations get difficult (which they do). When the threat of litigation has serious consequences for both parties, the likelihood of staying in the process during the rough times is vastly increased. Everything that has taken place through the Collaborative Law process is privileged and may not be used in the litigation process.
Of course, like all settlements, everyone has to give a little. But that would be true in the litigation model as well. As an Orlando divorce attorney and family attorney, we fully understand the compromises it takes to get the case moving along and ultimately making the parties involved feel satisfied and making sure our client is well taken care of.
The vast majority of Collaborative Law cases are resolved. Some resolve early on and take only a few meetings while others take longer and require more work and effort. The average Collaborative case requires 4 to 5 meetings. But each case is different and dependent upon the personalities and mind-sets of the parties, the issues involved, the complexity of the finances, the overall health and function of the individuals and the family unit as a whole.
Imagine a case stuck in the litigation model. One where the parties engage in a never-ending struggle through petty disputes over discovery, temporary custody, temporary finances and support, and the dissipation of marital assets; where the efforts and energies of the lawyers are expended at temporary hearings, temporary mediations, depositions, hearings, more hearings, and the exchange of unpleasant letters. Eventually there are one or two mediations, which, if unsuccessful, may result in a very expensive and horribly damaging trial. These cases run through tens of thousands, and some into the hundreds of thousands, of dollars and the process ends with both parties dissatisfied with the results, the costs, etc. Rarely do litigants who follow this model look back on their experience 10 years later and swear that they would do nothing different. As seasoned Orlando FL divorce attorneys, we find comfort in giving you the peace of mind you need to move forward with your case in ways which will leave you feeling stress free and confident.
Are Collaborative Law cases less expensive than traditional litigation model cases? Maybe. Probably. Maybe not. It all depends. We have no way of looking at your case through the litigation model lens or to know with certainty what your litigation case would have looked like, how long it would last, who was hired by the other side, and so on. Collaborative Law is not a bargain basement method of resolution and if cost sensitivity is your first priority, then the least expensive divorces happen when the parties sort out their issues on their own and look to lawyers to draft the agreement, and handle the technical aspects of finalization. Retaining the services of two family or divorce attorneys in Orlando Florida and two neutral professionals at the outset means an initial out-lay of finances that would have looked different if you had pursued the traditional model. There is, however, an unquantifiable value, which includes the likelihood that the parties will get to the other side without hatred for one another; that the parties will operate as effective co-parents; and that they will have reached a resolution that is the result of contemplation, reflection, and collaboration. That is a far cry from signing an agreement out of exhaustion, frustration, and exasperation
How do you want to feel about your divorce 2, 3, or 5 years from now? How do you want your children to reflect on your divorce as they grow up? We believe that, with the right professionals on board, our clients and their families can experience divorce while treating one another with respect, honesty, and dignity, while acknowledging and addressing the fears and concerns (and at times anger) of the other spouse, all while minimizing or eliminating damage to the spouses and children. Our firm believes that the Collaborative Law model is the best method in which to achieve these goals, and this why we hold our standards as high as we do, and strongly believe that we are the right divorce attorney in Orlando for you. Frank Family Law is waiting to help you, so call us now, and become a member of our family today. You deserve to be in good hands.
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