New Law in Florida
On March 26, 2016, Governor Scott signed into effect the Collaborative Law Process Act which applies to divorce, custody, and all other Florida family law matters. The components of the Act can be found in Florida Statutes §§ 61.55 through 61.58 and took effect on July 1, 2017 after the Florida Supreme Court enacted certain necessary procedural rules. But exactly what is Collaborative Law? The Act defines the Collaborative Law Process as “a process intended to resolve a collaborative matter without intervention by a tribunal and in which persons sign a collaborative law participation agreement and are represented by collaborative attorneys.”
In addition, it provides that “the collaborative law process begins, regardless of whether a legal proceeding is pending, when the parties enter into a collaborative law participation agreement. Further, the Act codifies that communications made by the parties and their attorneys during the Collaborative Law process are confidential (with some minor exceptions) and more importantly it creates a privilege in that “A party may refuse to disclose, and may prevent another person from disclosing, a collaborative law communication.”
Benefits of Collaborative Law
Essentially, the Act creates uniformity throughout Florida for those attorneys who practice Collaborative Law. Collaborative Law by design is a non-adversarial form of dispute resolution where the Husband and Wife in a divorce or the parents in a paternity matter spend all of their energy and other resources on working towards reaching an amicable agreement instead of fighting it out before a Florida Family Law Judge. Collaborative Law is excellent for a husband and wife who really desire to avoid the financial and emotional damage that routinely occurs during a contentious divorce. The minor children of the parties also benefit because they are not involved in a tug of war or put in a position where they feel that they have to choose one parent over another.
This process requires cooperation by both of the parties as well as their attorneys who have been trained in the Collaborative Law. The Family Law Court cannot order either party to agree to participate in the Collaborative Law process. At New Horizons Law, P.A., Michael J. Costantino, Esq. has had the appropriate training and is experienced in guiding clients through the process. At the onset of the Collaborative Law process both parties and their attorney have to agree to refrain from seeking intervention by a Florida Family Law Court.
Eliminate the Court
The core of the Collaborative Law process is that since the threat of going to court is removed, the parties can openly interact with each other in order to efficiently allow each of them to resolve matters with less animosity towards the other.
This is the first in a series of blogs that will discuss Collaborative Law and provide more details about how the process works as well as what is required by the parties and their respective attorneys. If you have questions about the Collaborative Law Process Act or you want to learn more about collaborative divorce, schedule a consultation with New Horizons Law, P.A., Michael J. Costantino, Esq.