© 2005 Arlene C. Richman, Esq.
with Divorce, Custody, Child Support and Visitation Issues
by Arlene C. Richman, Esq.
A family law attorney is constantly confronted with clients who, while no longer wanting to be married to their spouse, want to end the relationship in a way that is fair to both of them. And, with a minimum of fees and costs to do so. The problem is a system that encourages litigation and attorneys who treat the parties as adversaries.
In the 1990's a new concept to deal with family problems was started in Wisconsin by attorney Stuart Webb. The process is called "Collaborative Law." It quickly spread to California and the Western States. Collaborative Law has finally come to Florida.
The concept is simple, but the execution requires attorneys and individuals who understand the principles and procedures and are willing to work within those confinements.
The simple concept: The parties sign a Participation a Agreement. This Agreement requires that they agree to work with each other and each attorney will work with the other attorney to resolve the issues. All parties will voluntarily produce all documents necessary to resolve the action. There will be no hearings, no depositions, and no motions to the court. If experts are needed, such as accountants, psychologists, or appraisers, the parties will agree on one, in order to avoid a "battle of the experts."
BUT!! How do you insure against the threat of court by the client or the attorney?
This is a key to the collaborative law process: If the process breaks down, then the client has to obtain a new attorney. The downside for the client: the additional expense of hiring new counsel, having the new counsel get aquatinted with the case, and the emotional drain on everyone. The downside for the attorney: he or she loses the client.
Needless to state, the advantages are as follows; No costs for depositions; no costs for hearings; no costs for routine discovery; a commitment to cooperation by all parties with attorney's who represent you and use the principles of Collaborative Law.
Another benefit, studies have shown that agreements reached by the parties, rather than court imposed, have a greater chance of success.
The Florida Supreme Court has approved the concept of Collaborative Law and the family law section of the Florida Bar has approved the concept of collaborative law.
The Collaborative Law process is applicable to any aspect of family law, including, divorce, child support, custody, visitation, and modifications.
Since the parties have usually resolved many issues before encountering a roadblock, all participants have a vested incentive to discuss ideas to resolve the problem and move forward with a settlement, a settlement that both parties and their attorneys have worked together to reach.
Arlene Richman is an attorney practicing collaborative law and family law in South Florida (including Broward County, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, (Hollywood) since 1987. Collaborative Lawyers Florida is a state-wide educational and professional development association and business directory of independent Florida licensed attorneys at law and family law firms who practice in the areas of collaborative divorce and collaborative family law.