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In 1990, veteran Minneapolis family attorney Stuart Webb sent a letter to Minnesota Supreme Court Justice A.M. “Sandy” Keith outlining his innovative idea – to allow couples to dissolve their marriages in a private and civilized way, outside of the judicial system.
Webb proposed that in this “collaborative” system, family law attorneys would use their negotiation and communication skills to help the parties resolve their differences outside of court. In 1992, some California professionals were working on a similar system when they learned about the system Webb had created, and the two concepts were merged the following year.
Thirty years later, collaborative divorce is being used throughout the U.S. and in 24 countries around the world. Florida passed the Collaborative Law Process Act in 2016, dramatically changing the face of divorce in the state.
A collaborative divorce combines aspects of a traditional divorce and one obtained through mediation. Serving as an alternative to litigation in family law matters, collaborative divorce is a type of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) that aims to resolve a couple’s differences through settlement negotiations rather than litigation. The process is completely voluntary for both parties as well as for the attorneys, and should it break down, both attorneys are required to agree in advance that they will not represent their clients in contested litigation.
The process gives each party a greater degree of control over the divorce settlement, helps to minimize animosity, and aims to keep communication open between the couple once the divorce is settled.
Here is how the collaborative divorce process typically works:
In a collaborative divorce, a team of professionals help the parties resolve their differences, although they are not bound by what the experts tell them. These professionals typically include:
While using a team of professionals to settle a divorce is a different way to practice law for most attorneys, there is evidence of a dramatic reduction in post-judgement litigation when a collaborative divorce process is utilized.
When a divorcing couple is able to sit down together and reach an agreement outside of a courtroom the benefits are substantial:
According to the Florida Collaborative Law Process Act, “the collaborative law process is a unique non-adversarial process that preserves a working relationship between the parties and reduces the emotional and financial toll of litigation.”
For many Florida families, there is a healthier way to resolve their differences than traditional litigation. To learn more about the collaborative divorce process in Vero Beach and whether it might be a superior alternative to litigation for your family, contact the Chesnutt Law Firm online or call 772-492-3330 today.