SERVICES WHEN ENDING A RELATIONSHIP
YOUR DIVORCE, YOUR DECISION
Collaborative Law is a more civilized private process that puts you in control of the outcome of your Dissolution of Marriage, not a judge. All meetings, communications, and proposed settlement options are privileged and confidential. Parties are fully informed of all issues and have the assistance of a team of trained professionals every step of the way. You also dictate the time frame to resolve the matter, as opposed to waiting months to schedule a hearing before a judge.
Unlike traditional litigation, the Collaborative process keeps you out of the courtroom so the details of your personal life remain private. Each party retains a separate attorney whose job is to not only advocate for their clients, but counsel them and work towards resolving disputes as opposed to battling it out in a courtroom, which in turn creates excessive attorney's fees for both parties with no guarantee for reimbursement.
As part of the professional team, the Collaborative process includes a neutral financial professional, if needed, to analyze support, assets and property issues. A neutral mental health professional is also used for communications and emotional aspects of the case, especially if there are children involved, and help fashion a Parenting Plan particular for each party's situation. This way, the attorneys can focus on the legal aspects of the case.
Why put your fate and future in the hands of a judge who hears cases all day, every day, and has to follow the black letter of the law? The Collaborative process allows parties to be creative in fashioning a settlement agreement specific to their circumstances. In addition, the parties can include stipulations that a Judge cannot do.
Instead of spending not only up to a year or more in the courtroom, but also large amounts of money on excessive litigation, consider the Collaborative process so you can move on with your life. Wouldn't you rather have money to spend on your children or yourself as opposed to litigation and your attorney?
Almost all family law matters that are litigated are required to be mediated prior to a final hearing or trial before a judge. Additionally, some parties prefer to Mediate prior to filing suit for a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage or other family matters.
In mediation, all parties (and attorneys, if any) negotiate case outcomes with the assistance of a neutral mediator to facilitate discussions. Information is shared between the parties as they deem necessary. The mediator helps negotiate a settlement, but cannot make decisions for the parties or provide legal advice. Settlement occurs only by agreement of the parties. Anything discussed during mediation is confidential and private.
When you are in litigation and ordered to mediate, or would prefer to mediate prior to filing a Petition, consider me as your mediator. I am a Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Law Mediator who has empathy, knowledge, patience, compassion and resolve. As a creative problem solver, my goal is for parties to resolve their matters before turning it over to a judge to decide.
Whether you have decided to end your relationship or your spouse/partner made the decision, and you choose not to use the Collaborative process or mediate prior to filing suit, a Dissolution of Marriage leads to several issues that have to be resolved:
PARENTING PLAN: Both parties will need to decide their respective rights and responsibilities to their children to include the following:
Decision making authority
A time-sharing schedule (formally known as custody) to include summers and holidays
Any additional matters particular to each family's situation and needs
EQUITABLE DISTRIBUTION: Each party's marital assets including real property, in addition to liabilities/debts, will need to be equitably distributed.
ALIMONY/SPOUSAL SUPPORT: Support for the spouse/partner is based on one party's need for financial support and the other party's ability to pay. Depending on the situation and the length of the marriage, various forms of support include:
Bridge-the gap support
Lump sum support
CHILD SUPPORT: If there are children involved, in addition to a Parenting Plan, child support will need to be calculated which is based on a formula involving the following:
Each respective party's income
The amount of time each party spends with each child
Health care costs
I strongly recommend that any individual going through a Dissolution of Marriage consider the Collaborative Divorce process. If your spouse/partner has filed first and already has an attorney, there are still options to consider prior to entering into litigation.
THE END OF OF A RELATIONSHIP
Although your agreement is signed and entered by a judge, situations arise where your former spouse/partner decides not to follow the agreement or a judge's order. What happens next?
You will need your agreement or the order enforced by way of a Motion for Enforcement or a Motion for Contempt. Don't struggle through this alone. I am here to help and assist you in getting before a judge to enforce the agreement you and your spouse/partner entered into or enforce a prior order entered by a judge.
There are never any guarantees that one's situation will stay the same in life. Unfortunately, parties enter into agreements without considering circumstances that can happen in the future to both themselves, their spouse/partner or their children.
You or your spouse/partner may have lost your employment. Perhaps the time-sharing schedule you initially entered into is not working for either you, your spouse/partner or the children.
If these or other issues arise, a modification of your agreement may be appropriate. Contact me and let's discuss your options and what can be done to correct the problem going forward. These issues can also be addressed either through the Collaborative process or mediation prior to filing a Supplemental Petition.
OTHER LEGAL SERVICES OFFERED
LEGAL NAME CHANGE
There are many reasons you may want to change your name. Perhaps you rethought your decision on keeping your married name after a proceeding or you may want to honor one of your parents or a loved one.
Excluding exceptions under Florida Statute 68.07, you can file a Petition to change your name. If you are considering changing your name, contact me so we can discuss the process and make sure there will not be any roadblocks along the way.
Are you a father who wishes to establish rights to your child?
Are you a mother seeking financial support for your child?
I will work to safeguard your rights and determine financial responsibility while guiding you through the process of establishment of paternity through the Collaborative process, mediation or filing a Petition for Establishment of Paternity.
UNBUNDLED LEGAL SERVICES
You may have a specific legal need but do not want or have the financial means to spend money on a full service attorney. Let me help you by tailoring a service to fit your particular need. Some examples of services I provide are as follows:
- Drafting Pleadings such as a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage
- Responding to a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage
- Appearing with you at a Court Ordered Mediation
- Engaging in Direct Negotiations with your Spouse or Attorney
- Assisting you in completing Family Law Forms
- Responding to Discovery Requests
- Drafting letters
- Preparing you to Represent Yourself in Court
- Appearing with you at an Uncontested Final Hearing
SIMPLIFIED DISSOLUTION OF MARRIAGE
Under certain circumstances, you and your spouse or partner may jointly file for a Dissolution of Marriage and schedule your case for a Final Hearing within 30 days or less.
To be eligible for a Simplified Dissolution of Marriage, all of the following must be true:
- The parties have no minor or dependent children;
- The Wife is not pregnant;
- At least one of the parties has resided in Florida for at least six months prior to filing a Petition for Simplified Dissolution of Marriage;
- Neither party is seeking alimony/spousal support;
- The parties are willing to waive their right to trial and appeal;
- The parties are willing and able to appear together at the Final Hearing.
Both parties must complete a Financial Affidavit and agree on how to divide their assets and liabilities in a Settlement Agreement.
I can help you determine if you and your spouse or partner meet the criteria, assist you in completing your Financial Affidavit, and draft the Marital Settlement Agreement.