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Collaborative Law

What is Collaborative Law, and how is it different from a litigated family law case?

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:

Neutral Mental Health Professional
Neutral Financial Professional
The Lawyers
Family Law

The Process

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.

The Collaborative Law Agreement

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.

Agendas, Preparations, Meetings, and Minutes

The Collaborative Law process consists of the spouses preparing for and participating in a series of well-planned, agenda driven 2-hour meetings.
  • Agendas are prepared in advance and closely followed.
  • Issues, goals and interests are identified.
  • Pressing needs are addressed and resolved.
  • Financial and other important information is provided.
  • The role of the law in your case might be discussed.
  • Long-term issues are identified and addressed.
  • Minutes are prepared and communicated to everyone.
  • Between meetings, there is further communications between the lawyers, the MHP, the NFP, and the spouses in preparation for the next full meeting.
  • Between meetings the MHP and the spouses might meet separately to work on a Parenting Plan.
  • When everyone has the information they need to make informed decisions, when the parties and the professionals have established a reasonable level of trust, when the parties are no longer operating out of fear, then the spouses, through the support of their Collaborative Team, are then able to focus on a well thought out, fully informed and well-reasoned global settlement.

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.


Ultimate Resolution

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.

Cost: Are Collaborative Law cases cheaper than other family law cases?

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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