Florida has joined thirteen other states and the District of Columbia that have enacted a Collaborative Law Act and accompanying Family Law Rules of Procedure for Collaborative Law in Family Law cases. The new law and rules went into effect July 1, 2017. Many of us have been utilizing the Collaborative Process in Divorce, Paternity, Prenuptial Agreements and other areas of family law for many years, however, now it is governed by rules and regulations, making it more recognized and uniform. The stated purpose of the act is to create a uniform system of practice to “encourage the peaceful resolution of disputes and the early settlement of pending litigation through voluntary settlement procedures” and to preserve the working relationship between parties to a dispute through a non-adversarial method that reduces the emotional financial toll of litigants”
The Collaborative Law Process begins when the parties enter into a collaborative law participation agreement. If a legal case has already been filed with the Court, the case is put on hold until the collaborative process is concluded or terminated. By entering into the process, the parties agree that the process shall be confidential and prevent disclosure of communications made during the process to any court should the process break down and litigation ensue. In addition, the agreement must provide that, should the collaborative process terminate without an agreement all attorneys must withdraw from representation. By eliminating the possibility that either attorney will assist the clients in any litigation, the attorneys are free to devote their full effort to achieving a settlement in an efficient and cooperative manner.
Collaborative Practice has been around for over twenty years and has successfully assisted many families to resolve their family law matters without the time, expense and stress of litigation. The parties work with a team of trained professionals consisting of the individual attorneys representing each party, a Neutral Financial Professional and a Neutral Facilitator to resolve the issues of their divorce, paternity or other family law matter in a non-adversarial way.
The full text of the Florida Statute can be found here and the full text of the Florida Rules related to Collaborative Practice can be found here. If you would like to learn more about how Collaborative Procedures could assist your family in resolving your matter, please contact our office at 941-228-8571.