Collaborative law takes a foothold in Florida.Arguing couples spending fortunes in legal fees. Spouses using their children as bargaining tools. Weeks dragging into months as husband and wife fight over assets and belongings gathered during the happy years of their marriage.
Ask any family lawyer and he or she will tell you this can be a common divorce scenario.
But now, some Florida family attorneys are taking matters in a different direction -- a non-adversarial one.
Family lawyers in several circuits are promising their clients to stay out of court, making the entire process better for the attorneys, the court system, the clients, and, most importantly Adv. 1. most importantly - above and beyond all other consideration; "above all, you must be independent"
above all, most especially , any children involved.
Both collaborative law Collaborative Law
Collaborative law is a dispute resolution process that does not involve the courts. It is a process that is based on facilitative principles, such as mediation, but is distinct from mediation in that the parties are represented by their own attorneys who and cooperative divorce are spreading rapidly across the state as more and more attorneys tout Tout
To promote a security in order to attract buyers.
To foster interest in a particular company or security. For example, a broker might tout a security to a client in the hope that the client will purchase the security. the merits of these non-adversarial methods' and more and more clients learn the benefits of working together to stay out of court.
Created by Minneapolis solo Stuart Webb Stuart Webb (born September 3, 1980 in Uralla, New South Wales, Australia) is an Australian rugby league player for the South Sydney Rabbitohs in the National Rugby League competition. 10 years ago to remedy his dissatisfaction with adversarial ad·ver·sar·i·al
Relating to or characteristic of an adversary; involving antagonistic elements: "the chasm between management and labor in this country, an often needlessly adversarial . . . family law, the collaborative law model emphasizes positive negotiation to stay out of court.
Both parties and their lawyers agree, typically in a written contract, to negotiate a settlement out of court. If the parties. can't reach an agreement, the lawyers for both sides must withdraw, and the parties have to hire new lawyers to litigate the case.
With the threat of court removed, divorcing couples and their lawyers have an incentive to cooperate and settle the matter as quickly and fairly as possible. And, unlike divorce mediation, both parties have the assistance of an attorney to advocate on their behalf.
"The entire process is grounded" in good faith," said Rosemarie Roth, founder and president of the Collaborative Family Lawyers Institute in Miami. "If there isn't good faith, it isn't going to work. There must be trust between the two attorneys."
The mutual interest in a quick and fair settlement also allows for open communication of information that normally would be sought in a lengthy discovery process. The parties come to the table with financial and other records in order to divide assets and decide child custody The care, control, and maintenance of a child, which a court may award to one of the parents following a Divorce or separation proceeding.
Under most circumstances, state laws provide that biological parents make all decisions that are involved in rearing their issues with a positive attitude and positive results.
"It doesn't make these people like each other any more or make them trust each other anymore," said Roth. "But, they're working toward a common goal. Divorce can be a very, very horrible, hostile situation. The kids are pulled into the process. Children bear the terrible effect of it that can last forever.
"We have found that we're saving the kids from having to be any part of that process," she said.
Keeping the children out of the process is a definite plus, and when couples will be sharing custody of their children, it's best that their relationship is not completely destroyed, Roth added.
"The one thing that none of us knows is what the long term effect of litigation An action brought in court to enforce a particular right. The act or process of bringing a lawsuit in and of itself; a judicial contest; any dispute.
When a person begins a civil lawsuit, the person enters into a process called litigation. will be on children," said Joe Hood, cofounder co·found
tr.v. co·found·ed, co·found·ing, co·founds
To establish or found in concert with another or others.
co·found and vice president of the Collaborative Family Law Group of Tampa Bay Tampa Bay, inlet of the Gulf of Mexico, 25 mi (40 km) long and 7 to 12 mi (11.3–19 km) wide, W Fla., separated from the Gulf by numerous small islands; it receives the Hillsborough River. St. . "We all believe everyone is doing things in the best interest of the children. But at the same time, every psychologist will say that litigation is bad for kids. Collaborative lawyering, because of the perception that everyone is working together, is less harmful."
And unlike litigation, where each party hires his or her own accountant, psychologist, or other expert witness, in collaborative law, the couple decides on neutral experts that will assist them both.
"We just settled a very significant case after 14 hours of conference. This was a collaborative case with substantial assets in it. The husband is an attorney and the wife was a homemaker, and they have two kids," said Roth. "What it saved them in terms of the amount of time that was spent for them and the attorneys, and for the neutral accountant is overwhelming. Had it been litigated, it would have cost them a ton."
And that is one of the major selling points selling point
An aspect of a product or service that is stressed in advertising or marketing.
Noun 1. selling point - a characteristic of something that is up for sale that makes it attractive to potential customers for collaborative clients -- the lower cost. Experts estimate the cost of collaboration to be one-third that of litigation.
"I know that it would be almost impossible to run up the kinds of fees that people do in litigating divorce cases in a collaborative context," Hood said.
Additionally, family law sports perhaps the largest percentage of pro se litigants in the system. Hood argues that informing laypeople lay·peo·ple or lay people
Laymen and laywomen. about this alternative methodology may open the door to a whole new source of clients that weren't there before.
Another non-adversarial process steering divorcing couples away from court has cropped up in Ft. Myers, thanks to the pioneering work of attorney Shelly Finman.
Cooperative divorce shares many parallels with collaborative law, most notably the emphasis to resolve disputes out of court and work in a non-adversarial environment. However, the cooperative lawyer does not withdraw from a case if the parties can't come to an agreement.
"The primary advantage in the cooperative and collaborative models In psycholinguistics, the collaborative model(or conversational model) is a theory for explaining how speaking and understanding work in conversation, specifically how people in conversation coordinate to determine definite references. is the prevention of emotional wear-and-tear on the family, so that when the parties are done, the family relationship is restructured, not destroyed," Finman said.
"Our cooperative model was developed prior to and independent of the collaborative model," he added. "Our cooperative model involves the judge as a significant resource for cooperation, if necessary to involve the court."
Finman argues that while the collaborative model is good for people who trust their spouse, the cooperative divorce model can apply to a much larger percentage of divorcing couples while still keeping the process non-adversarial.
And in Lee County, where Finman created the cooperative model, there is a cooperation track within the court system that parties and their lawyers can opt into. If participating attorneys eventually do end up in court and the judge finds that either side is not cooperating, 'the court can and usually will reward or withhold fees, he said.
"It's geared solely to be fair," he said. "As a result, we don't have motions to compel in Lee County [family court] anymore."
The cooperative model also provides for the use of a neutral expert, and the model allows the expert to have a broader scope of responsibility than typically allowed. For example, if a CPA (Computer Press Association, Landing, NJ) An earlier membership organization founded in 1983 that promoted excellence in computer journalism. Its annual awards honored outstanding examples in print, broadcast and electronic media. The CPA disbanded in 2000. is involved to handle the financial aspects, he or she, if certified, could also mediate for the couple.
This also makes for a lower total cost to clients -- 30- to 50-percent less than a litigated divorce, according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
But in both collaborative and cooperative models, the lower cost to clients does not necessarily translate to less money for the attorneys. Each case may produce fewer billable hours Billable Hours is a Canadian comedy series, which airs on Showcase.
Set in the fictional Toronto law firm of Fagen & Harrison, the series focuses on three young lawyers struggling to balance their expectations in life with the difficult realities of building a career for an attorney. However, they typically settle faster, which allows for a larger volume of cases.
"I think people are concerned that it won't be as income-generating," Hood said. "Our group is roughly 70 members right now. That's a large number of attorneys in the area committed to the process."
Finman added that, in fact, the process makes for less accounts receivable accounts receivable n. the amounts of money due or owed to a business or professional by customers or clients. Generally, accounts receivable refers to the total amount due and is considered in calculating the value of a business or the business' problems in paying and more earnings.
"If I work with satisfied people and I work with cases that take a shorter period of time, then these folks are going to pay me and pay me promptly," he said. "Plus, when they're done, they're so pleased and so respectful of the system that the referrals come flooding in."
Florida judges appear to be supportive of these non-adversarial models, as well.
"They are excited about the possibility of taking some litigation out of the courtroom," Hood said. "If we take more of the litigation cases out of their hands and resolve them, then they've got more time to deal with their biggest problem -- prose cases. Any way you look at it, how can that not help the judiciary."
Due to the relatively long history of non-adversarial methods in Lee County, 20th Judicial Circuit Judge Hugh Starnes is now able to carry a full family law docket and volunteer to do some first-appearance criminal matters, he said.
"And I have the luxury of doing that because the family law docket runs so smoothly," he added.
"As a judge, there is no more miserable position to be in than to walk into the courtroom with angry, hostile people. You feel it in the air, you see it in the body language, and if the attorneys get enmeshed en·mesh also im·mesh
tr.v. en·meshed, en·mesh·ing, en·mesh·es
To entangle, involve, or catch in or as if in a mesh. See Synonyms at catch. in that, too, you hear it in their arguments," Starnes said. "It's a miserable process to be involved in."
But thanks to collaborative law and cooperative divorce, these family law proceedings don't have to be World War III World War III (abbreviated WWIII), or the Third World War, is a term used to describe a hypothetical conflict on the scale of World War I and World War II, or even larger, such as a nuclear holocaust. , said Starnes, who is a member of the Supreme Court Family Court Steering Committee steer·ing committee
A committee that sets agendas and schedules of business, as for a legislative body or other assemblage.
Noun and chair of its "ADR ADR - Astra Digital Radio +" subcommittee.
Roth, Hood, and Finman are doing their best to spread the word about collaborative law and cooperative divorce to attorneys, clients, and judges, in the hopes of spreading some of their happiness to others. They may also have help from the Florida Supreme Court, based on recommendations from the Family Court Steering Committee for use of non-adversarial methods within the model family court.
But to them, it's not just about doing what's right. It's also about doing what feels right.
"We're just trying to make things easier and more practical for everyone involved," Hood said. "I think we can all live longer and enjoy life more through a collaborative approach."
The Florida Bar The Florida Bar is the mandatory state bar association for the state of Florida. It is the third largest such bar association in the United States. Its duties include the regulation and discipline of attorneys. Family Law Section will be highlighting collaborative law and other non-adversarial family law models at the Bar's Midyear mid·year
1. The middle of the calendar or academic year.
a. An examination given in the middle of a school year.
b. midyears A series of such examinations. Meeting on January 10 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Speakers at the "Matrimonial mat·ri·mo·ny
n. pl. mat·ri·mo·nies
The act or state of being married; marriage.
[Middle English, from Old French matrimoine, from Latin m ADR -- Mediation, Arbitration, and Collaborative Lawyering" seminar include Roth, who has organized a collaborative divorce Overview and History
Collaborative law (also called collaborative practice, collaborative divorce, and collaborative family law) was originally a divorce procedure in which the two parties agreed that they would not go to court, or threaten to do so. demonstration, and Alan Rubinstein, a Ft. Myers attorney who will discuss matrimonial arbitration.
For more information about the seminar, refer to the insert in the Dec. 15 Bar News, or contact Debby Beck at The Florida Bar, (850) 561-5650.
For more information about the Collaborative Family Lawyers Group of Tampa Bay, visit www.tampbaycollaborativelaw.com, and for the Collaborative Family Lawyers Institute in Miami, visit www.collaborativefamlaw.com.