What comes to mind when you think about divorce? A sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach. Images of screaming spouses. How do we tell the kids? Who will keep the house? What will happen to my retirement account? How did we get to this point? Those unpleasant images are commonly associated with dissolution of marriage for a reason.
Once upon a time, most divorce cases entailed ugly court battles that destroyed all aspects of a person’s life: a marriage, relationships with closest family members, finances, and living arrangements. It was unfortunate, but also the nature of family law.
And then there was hope…
Enter the year 2012, when the Family Law Rules Committee proposed amendments to the Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure to include parameters for a collaborative divorce process. Suddenly, Collaborative Law had become an option and it seemed that spouses in Florida might have another avenue to a non-adversarial, peaceful end to their marriage.
What did this mean for family law in general?
Collaborative divorce has gained momentum and popularity because it bypasses the typical contentious court battle. Both parties keep their dignity and set the foundation for their new relationship as exes and/or co-parents.
In 2016, the Florida Legislature enacted the Collaborative Law Process Act. However, the statutes included one caveat: they wouldn’t become effective until 30 days after the Supreme Court of Florida adopted rules of procedure consistent with the act.
It took a while, but we’re getting there
This past May 18, 2017, the Supreme Court of Florida amended the Rules Regulating the Florida Bar and the Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure to include provisions pertaining to the collaborative divorce process. So now it’s official: Collaborative Law is here to stay, and attorneys participating in the process have specific duties with which to comply when explaining the process to a prospective client: the pros and cons of the process, potential fees and costs involved, and limitations of the attorney should the spouses fail to reach a collaborative agreement, among other things.
As with any legal proceeding, questions will arise as your matter develops. Considering that the collaborative law rules are so recent, it’s imperative to talk with a family law attorney who has substantial experience with the process. Let Open Palm Law help you.
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About this week’s authors: Joryn Jenkins.
Joryn, attorney and Open Palm Founder, began her own firm here in Tampa after a 14-year career in law, 2 of which she served as professor in law at Stetson University. She is a recipient of the prestigious A. Sherman Christensen award, an honor bestowed upon those who have provided exceptional leadership to The American Inns of Court Movement. For more information on Joryn’s professional experience, take a look at her resume.