The Collaborative Process: A Different Way To Divorce

by:  Sydney A. Towne, Esq.

Marks and West, P.A.,

Months spent stuck at home trying to work and simultaneously homeschool can show the fault lines in a marriage. There will undoubtedly be marriages that can recover from the stresses of the current pandemic; however, there will also be marriages that were not working before and for which this crisis is the final straw. That does not mean that those marriages which will end, must end in a contentious, expensive, and public battle in a courtroom. There is an alternative to end your marriage respectfully, frugally, and privately – Collaborative Divorce.

In 2017, the State of Florida legislature passed new laws that allow couples to divorce almost entirely without having to enter a Courtroom. This procedure is called “Collaborative Divorce,” and it can provide you and your spouse with a different divorce experience than you see in the media or that your friends or family have experienced.

In a Collaborative Divorce, each spouse hires their own collaboratively trained attorney who represents and protects their interests. Upon recommendation of counsel, you, and your spouse will hire a neutral mental health professional and, depending on your assets and liabilities, a neutral forensic accountant. These trained, impartial professionals will guide you and your spouse, along with your attorneys, through a series of team meetings to identify your goals, concerns, assets, and liabilities. After those are identified, you and your spouse, not a Judge who has limited knowledge of your family and circumstances, will make the ultimate decisions about your children, your finances, and your family’s future.

Information regarding your income, the marital estate, reasons for getting divorced, and the amount of any spousal support, is not filed with the Court and remains private. In the same way, your marriage was between you and your spouse; your divorce can also be as well.

Perhaps more important than preserving your privacy and allowing you to control the outcome during what is inevitably a difficult and emotional experience, the Collaborative Divorce process allows you and your spouse to redefine your relationship with the support and experience of trained professionals. If you have children and you want to be able to attend graduations, weddings, and other celebrations without animosity or lingering ill will, Collaborative Divorce provides the best process for working through the end of your marriage civilly.

If the current pandemic has taught us anything, it should be that difficult experiences that are handled calmly by trained and experienced professionals can minimize adverse outcomes and protect the things and people who need it the most. If you are contemplating a divorce, I, as a collaboratively trained attorney who also litigates divorces, would strongly encourage you to consider the Collaborative Divorce process.