Collaborative law services in Indian River County

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Where compassion results in aggressive representation

Collaborative Law Services in Vero Beach, FL

Susan Chesnutt and The Chesnutt Law Firm

In 2017 the Collaborative Law Process Act went into effect in Florida. Known as the Collaborative Process, this act created a new alternative to litigation for family matters.

Like mediation, the Collaborative Process aims to resolve a couple’s differences in a family matter through voluntary settlement negotiations rather than through litigation in court. Collaborative Process is, however, different than mediation and this difference becomes important when you're trying to decide which process might be better for you in your divorce. While the intent of both approaches is the same, the differences are subtle.

How the Collaborative Process Works

Divorce can be a highly emotional time in a person's life with frustration and hurt running high by the time the process begins. Each party hires their own attorney to protect their rights, with divorce negotiations becoming a battle where each party tries to get as much as they can while giving up as little as possible.

While many divorcing couples handle these matters without the need for litigation, others need options such as the Collaborative Process in order to come to a settlement agreement without court intervention.

In a collaborative divorce, both spouses are required to be completely transparent, truthfully disclosing everything. Keeping the process open in this way gives each spouse a greater degree of control over the divorce settlement itself and their respective futures. The hope is this transparency minimizes resentment while keeping communication friendly between the couple once the divorce is over. This can be particularly helpful when children are involved.

Here's how the process typically works:

  • Both parties list their goals at the outset of the process.
  • They meet at regular intervals to work towards these goals without going to court or using traditional discovery such as depositions. In fact, if your Collaborative Process divorce is successful, you may never have to see a judge for anything other than to have the agreement adopted by the court.
  • The parties sign agreements that set out their responsibility to be truthful and work towards achieving their goals.

While there are times a case cannot be resolved through the Collaborative Process, parties who are committed to making it work usually do reach a settlement. Most importantly, many who resolve their issues in this way report a sense of relief, not anger, at the conclusion of the divorce process.

Other issues that can be resolved using the collaborative process include spousal support, child support and child custody, child visitation rights, parental relocation with children, asset and debt distribution, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, and paternity rights issues.

Benefits of the Collaborative Process

For parties who are able to sit down at the table and attempt to work with one another to reach an agreement outside the courtroom, the benefits are significant.

  • All communication is privileged, which means it’s kept confidential during negotiations. In court proceedings, all information disclosed is public record.
  • The parties determine the pace of resolution and the outcome, not a judge.
  • If there are children involved, their best interests are protected by all the professionals on the Collaborative Process team.

The collaborative process is also a cost-effective way to settle divorce differences and is often far less expensive than litigation. Finally, all the professionals involved have been trained to facilitate a respectful and productive process that works for the entire family, not just one party. This typically results in a situation where family relationships are preserved, not harmed.

Collaborative Law Services at The Chesnutt Law Firm

If you'd like to learn more about the Collaborative Process and how it can be useful for any of your family law matters, contact The Chesnutt Law Firm today either online or by giving us a call at 772-492-3330 for a private consultation.