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The New Trend? Collaborative Divorce In Florida

I have recently received several phone calls from clients, who begin by asking "Do you do Collaborative Divorce?" When I answer in the affirmative, they are excited and usually mention that the previous attorneys they have spoken with have never heard of this new type of divorce.

Collaborative divorce has been described by some as a softer, gentler technique for divorcing couples who need zealous legal representation, but also place a premium on avoiding litigation." Collaborative divorce is aimed on settlement, as opposed to vexatious litigation. After all, the words of wisdom from the legendary attorneys are "Every case should settle." However, a combination of angry litigants and greedy attorneys can lead to long out court battles.

Collaborative divorce uses a technique, where couples and their attorneys agree in advance not to litigate. If either party ignores the agreement and pursues court, their attorney is mandated to end their representation of the client.

Although Collaborative law is not strictly limited to Divorce, it has achieved its recognition in the marital arena. Collaborative Divorce does not allow the parties to use the Court, except for common filings of stipulations. Many clients enjoy Collaborative Law because it gives the clients more control over the process. Many clients feel that they are more shielded from turning serious decisions over to a judge that has several hundred cases to entertain.

Many divorces require the use of experts, and some attorneys (including myself) agree with the other side that the one expert will be used as opposed to two. This greatly reduces the overall costs and leaves the client in a healthier financial state. Collaborative attorneys are usually trained in reducing conflict and working cooperatively with non-confrontational strategies.

Another advantage of Collaborative Law is that discovery (the exchanging of information) occurs much faster. Parties agree, as part of the process, that they will make full and timely disclosure of all relevant information. This greatly eliminates one side bombarding the other with paper after paper.

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Florida requires an equitable distribution of the marital property (what is fair, not necessarily equal). Each spouse keeps the property and debts that belonged to them before the marriage. Each spouse also keeps any property received as a gift or inheritance, or any property that the spouses agree to divide in a written agreement. Any property that was acquired before the spouses married or that was received as a gift or inheritance is not considered marital property. If the spouses cannot come to an agreement, a court will divide the property and the debt.
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