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Encouraging Collaborative Divorce in Florida (Part II)

Continued from Part I. A collaborative divorce often includes a therapist as part of the team, as a person to facilitate positive interaction in the meetings, or address the dynamics or emotions that aren’t necessarily readily apparent to the parties and the attorneys. Moving from angry interactions to a process that has the potential to be curative or healing, in many cases is a positive thing. Even if you do not believe a therapist is necessarily capable of super-human results, or that therapy works, in the context of a collaborative divorce process I believe a therapist can help nudge the process in a more positive direction, and possibly help the parties leave feeling a little better. If you couple that with attorneys who are looking to represent their clients but cooperate and move the process forward peacefully, versus encouraging or going along with a party’s first inclination to fight, you have the prospect for a more positive option for resolving a divorce.

The standard for determining most children’s issues in a divorce is the best interests of the children; and division of property is based on equitable distribution – so significant issues in the divorce at a trial, will be decided based on what’s fair or what’s best for the children. You can go through the litigation process and have a judge decide that, or you can work it out among the parties and their attorneys or collaborative divorce team. Something else significant, is that as part of the collaborative divorce team, you would have one financial expert also committed to helping the spouses resolve the case amicably and peacefully, versus each party hiring an attorney, who will then hire a financial expert to possibly testify in court. The collaborative divorce groups in each county, for example the Broward County Collaborative divorce group, include accountants and other financial analysts/experts. As part of a collaborative divorce, however, you will still have your own attorney, with the ethical obligation to advise you regarding Florida law and you options.

There are some situations where a collaborative divorce is not an appropriate or good idea. First, where there are concerns about safety; or if one party has psychological pathology making it not possible for them to collaborate. If it is a grey area, however, and a party is unreasonable or difficult to deal with, but still able to participate/cooperate, a collaborative divorce process (or any process including litigation or mediation where a party seeks to work things out rather than fighting), can be a way for them to seek a more positive outcome for themself. There has been significant research over the years that despite a negative marriage, the divorce process if handled well can in a sense be a success. It is very much I believe, about seeking a positive result versus seeking conflict, and being aware of the consequences of different types of behavior and ways of handling things. There is almost always, however, another side. If a person has been wronged, the legal system can be an avenue to seek justice, compensation for what you’ve been through. It is a significant decision to seek to use the family court process for that end, but sometimes you may want someone to fight for you.


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