Collaborative Divorce In Sarasota, Bradenton, and Venice, Florida
If you are considering divorce, then you are probably dreading the expensive, time-consuming, and potentially emotional process that awaits you. Fortunately, all divorces do not have to be combative and acrimonious. In Sarasota, Bradenton, and Venice, Florida, a collaborative divorce is something that reasonable couples can enter into if they are motivated to end their marriage. This form of dispute resolution does not involve expensive litigation or contentious arguments in court. While collaborative divorce is not the only way to end a marriage without going to court, it can be especially helpful for couples that are close on the issues but still need to work out an agreement concerning property distribution, alimony, child custody, and/or child support.
Sarasota, Bradenton, and Venice, Florida divorce attorney Matt Martell of the Law Offices of Matthew Z. Martell, P.A. is collaboratively trained, has experience representing clients in collaborative divorces, and can help determine whether this approach is right for your circumstances. Based on the ins and outs of your individual situation, we can advise you on the best approach for ending your marriage and guide you through whichever process will give you the best chance of receiving the outcome you deserve. For a 30 minute free initial phone consultation, contact our Sarasota, Bradenton, and Venice, Florida collaborative divorce lawyer by calling (941) 556-7020 or by contacting us online.
What Is Collaborative Divorce?
A collaborative divorce typically involves multiple meetings of both spouses and their lawyers in an effort to come to an agreement concerning the issues surrounding the termination of the couple’s marriage. It is important to understand that a collaborative divorce is voluntary. This means that both spouses must agree to enter into the collaborative divorce process by signing a participation agreement. No one can be forced or bullied into a collaborative divorce. At any point, either spouse has the option of walking away from the collaborative divorce process and pursuing another form of more traditional form of dispute resolution such as mediation.
Collaborative divorce also involves the open and honest sharing of information relevant to the divorce. This means that spouses cannot hide or obscure financial information or refuse to turn over documents relevant to the issues. Again, the purpose of a collaborative divorce is for spouses to come together to work out an agreement concerning how to end their marriage. This can only be achieved if both spouses are willing to engage in an honest and forthright discussion of the issues at hand. In some cases, spouses will agree on the financial information that both sides will disclose prior to any formal discussions. This approach better ensures that all parties are fully informed and are in a position to cooperate in good faith.
If, at any time, either spouse or their lawyer violates the rules of collaborative divorce, the lawyers and any professionals involved – such as a joint neutral forensic accountant – must withdraw from the case and cannot be involved in any litigation that may follow. This feature of collaborative divorce helps to ensure that lawyers and other professionals behave in good faith when working to form a mutually-beneficial agreement. Because they have no financial stake in future divorce litigation in your case, lawyers who represent clients in a collaborative divorce must focus all of their energy and effort on coming to a resolution.
If a marital settlement agreement is reached through the collaborative process, it will be forwarded to a judge assigned to the couple’s divorce case to ratify and approve in a Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage . Once this happens, it becomes an official order of the court and will effectively end the marriage. It is important to note that if spouses are having a difficult time with the collaborative process, they may be able to bring in other professionals, such as real estate appraisers or mental health therapists/counselors, to help facilitate the process. However, bringing in these professionals must be formally agreed on by both spouses beforehand.
What Are The Benefits Of Collaborative Divorce?
There are many reasons that divorcing couples choose a collaborative approach. Many couples like to avoid litigation if they can, and collaborative divorce can be an effective alternative to hashing it out in open court. Some of the other benefits of a collaborative divorce include:
Privacy – Oftentimes, divorces reveal painful or embarrassing facts about a personal relationship. Issues like infidelity, financial inequities, mental abuse, physical abuse, and drug problems may become public if the spouses end up in court. A collaborative divorce Is confidential, and the spouses are in control of the outcome. This can prevent unwanted information from being shared and can shield the children from disputes leading to custody hearings.
Cost – Depending on the rate your lawyer charges, you may end up spending over $100,000 to litigate a divorce. If there are considerable assets at play, that number could be even higher. The cost of collaborative divorce is almost always less than litigation. This is because spouses who enter into the collaborative process are usually somewhat close on the issues and are motivated to come to a resolution. Because of this, less time is spent on arguments and delay tactics, thereby increasing the chances of a quick and suitable agreement. While lawyers are involved in a collaborative divorce process, their end goal is an agreement, as they are prohibited from representing either spouse if the matter ends up going in front of a judge.
Control – Divorces that end up in court are typically decided by a judge. What this means is that the lawyers will present evidence and make arguments, and the judge will determine how the issues are to be resolved. The spouses will have no direct say in how the judge will decide their case. Collaborative divorce is designed so that spouses work together to come to an agreement concerning how to end their marriage. There is no judge or arbitrator deciding how the issues will be resolved. Spouses must both sign off on any agreement in a collaborative divorce, giving them full control over issues including property distribution, alimony, custody, and child support (subject to Florida legal requirements).
Respect – Couples that seek an amicable process often elect to engage in a collaborative divorce. They do this in order to facilitate a quick and fair resolution to their marriage but also to maintain respect for each other throughout the process. Additionally, many couples that divorce but have children together want to continue having a respectful relationship for the sake of those children. Collaborative divorce can offer a peaceful, respectful way to end a marriage and continue to maintain civility as individual spouses move forward.
As mentioned, collaborative divorce is not the only method to end a marriage that does not involve litigation. Many spouses can work out a suitable divorce settlement by simply negotiating through their respective lawyers. Others have found success by undergoing mediation (which utilizes some collaborative divorce processes, in a sense, too). These methods share some of the same features as collaborative divorce while also avoiding the pitfalls of litigation. In any event, figuring out what will work best for your specific situation is something an experienced divorce attorney such as Matthew Z. Martell can help you with, as he will be aware of all the options and has likely handled similar cases in the past.
Sarasota, Bradenton, and Venice, Florida Collaborative Divorce Attorneys Are Here To Help
The Sarasota, Bradenton, and Venice, Florida collaborative divorce attorney at the Law Offices Of Matthew Z. Martell, P.A. understands how difficult a divorce can be. We also know that there are many options to consider as you seek to end your marriage. If you and your spouse are fairly close on the issues in dispute and are looking for an alternative to litigation, then collaborative divorce may be right for you. After taking a look at your specific circumstances, we will craft a strategy and advise you on the best course of action for ending your marriage. We have experience in all types of dispute resolution and can counsel you on how to best proceed with your divorce. For a 30 minute free initial phone consultation, reach out to us today by calling (941) 556-7020 or by contacting us online. We look forward to speaking with you.