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Collaborative Divorce Law

Collaborative Divorce is an emerging method of alternative dispute resolution that helps parties in family law cases resolve their disputes respectfully, confidentially, fairly and relatively quickly by engaging a team of professionals to assist with the process. In 2017, the Florida Legislature passed the "Collaborative Law Process Act" found in Title VI, Chapter 61, Part III of the Florida Statutes.


Both parties and their collaboratively trained attorneys must agree in writing to engage in this unique process.  The parties with the help of their attorneys assemble a team of professionals including a third party neutral (the facilitator) who is often a certified mediator, a financial professional (usually a CPA or Certified Divorce Financial Analyst) and a mental health professional, if necessary. The team approach demands transparency of finances from both parties as a neutral financial professional completes both parties financial affidavits and prepares equitable distribution spreadsheets.  The professionals help both parties define objectives in an open setting so a positive result is achieved for all involved.


One of the unique aspects of Collaborative Law is that the Court is informed that the parties are engaging in the Collaborative Process and the normal deadlines and court involvement is placed on hold pending the outcome of the process.  Once a settlement is reached through the Collaborative process, the Court is informed and a Final Judgment is entered approving the Settlement Agreement.  The Courts are supportive of the process because it frees up the court's time and dockets so the Judges can focus on traditional litigated cases.


Another unique attribute of the Collaborative divorce process is that to encourage settlement, once the parties agree to the process, in the unlikely event the process breaks down, the attorneys involved can no longer represent the parties if litigation ensues.  This creates an atmosphere where the parties are motivated to settle so they don't have to find new attorneys and pay new retainers. This commitment by the parties and attorneys to take the threat of litigation "off the table" has the effect of facilitating meaningful and productive negotiations that would not otherwise occur under threat of litigation. The Collaborative process is gaining in popularity among family law attorneys and divorcing couples who view this process as a more cost-effective and respectful way of reaching agreements than the traditional litigation route where it's "all out war" in litigation and there are no winners. Collaborative Divorce allows each party to exit the marriage with civility, their financial resources preserved and better able to make the transition to single life again.


Mr. McDermott completed his formal training in Collaborative Divorce in early 2017 and since that time has represented clients in multiple collaborative divorce cases including several high net worth cases. Collaborative Law is not right for every case. Mr. McDermott is trained to assess whether this process is a good fit for you.  Remember, both parties must agree to the Collaborative process for it to be a Collaborative Divorce pursuant to the newly passed Collaborative Law Process Act. Read more about Collaborative Divorce and whether this process is best for your case in our Legal Guide published at McDermott is a member of the Sarasota Collaborative Family Law Professionals.  You can read more here: Sarasota Collaborative Family Law Professionals.




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