Can a Filed Tampa Divorce Case Become Collaborative?

Collaborative divorce is becoming more well-known and more popular in Florida, and for good reason.  Discussions regarding custody schedules and division of assets take place in the private offices of collaborative facilitators, attorneys, or financial professionals rather than being battled in the public courtroom.   Issues are resolved using the expertise of accountants or financial planners and creativity of trained facilitators rather than the rigid dictates of the law.  Tackling the issues inherent in divorce is seen as a team effort rather than a fight to the finish.

Obviously, a case can (and should) become collaborative from the very beginning.  The parties and professionals sign a participation agreement where they commit to resolving their family law issues through the process, and they agree not to involve the court system until a full settlement is reached.

But, if a Florida divorce or other family law case has already been filed, can it later become collaborative?

The answer is an overwhelming “Yes!”

Hillsborough County’s Collaborative Family Law Practice Administrative Order has a provision which specifically addresses the conversion of cases that have already been filed to collaborative cases:

If the collaborative process is to be utilized after an initial pleading has already been filed with the Clerk, then the parties must file the Participation Agreement with the Clerk and notify the presiding judge.  Upon notice to the presiding judge, the court will abate the court proceedings.  A collaborative status conference will be held within six months of the abatement.  The proceeding will remain abated until either an uncontested dissolution of marriage or a motion to withdraw by counsel is heard by the court.  Periodic status conferences may be scheduled at the presiding judge’s discretion.

Though other local counties do not have an administrative order addressing collaborative family law practice, there are ways to bring a filed case into the collaborative process.

Keep in mind that an attorney who started off in a filed case and was retained as general counsel is then limited to solely help negotiate a settlement through the collaborative process, and, once the collaborative process begins, the attorney will not continue if a client insists on litigating.  The limited representation helps ensure that, in the unlikely event that a collaborative case broke down, the attorney cannot utilize information that was revealed during the process by a party against that party.  This promotes collaborative meetings as “safe environments.”

If you have questions on how you can utilized the Tampa Bay collaborative process in your family law case, schedule a consultation with The Law Firm of Adam B. Cordover, P.A., at (813) 443-0615 or by filling out our contact form.

Adam B. Cordover serves as Vice President of the Collaborative Divorce Institute of Tampa Bay and is a member of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals.


About Adam B. Cordover, Attorney-at-Law

Family Diplomacy is dedicated to helping clients restructure their families privately and respectfully. We practice exclusively in out-of-court dispute resolution, with a focus on collaborative divorce and family law, mediation, direct negotiations, and unbundled legal services. We maintain this out-of-court practice because we strongly believe that family disputes should be resolved in a private conference room, not in a hostile and public courtroom environment. This unique perspective on family law stems back to Adam B. Cordover’s experience studying International Affairs in Washington, D.C., and abroad. Adam had the rare opportunity to work closely with ambassadors and diplomats from war-torn regions around the world. He traveled around the globe, learning from diplomatic leaders as they applied dispute resolution techniques to tackle seemingly impossible conflicts. It dawned on him: If these techniques can work in the complex world of International Relations, why not Domestic Relations and Family Law? This realization lead Adam to create an exclusively out-of-court practice and to bring a more peacemaking approach to family law. In his previous role as a litigation attorney, Adam witnessed parties experience the negative emotional and financial effects that long, drawn out divorce battles can have on families. As a result, Adam has become a strong proponent of the Collaborative Process, where a structure is put in place so that life’s hardest moments do not have to be any more difficult than necessary. A thought leader in the international collaborative law community, Adam successfully spearheaded an effort of the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit to draft an administrative order safeguarding the principles of collaborative family law (just the fourth such administrative order in Florida). Adam has been featured in or interviewed about collaborative practice by the Tampa Bay Times, Tampa Tribune, Orlando Sentinel, Miami Herald, Tampa Bay Business Journal, Florida Bar News, NBC, Fox 13, Bay News 9, ABC Action News, The World of Collaborative Practice Magazine, and Spirit FM 90.5. Adam regularly speaks at professional and civic organizations locally and internationally regarding the collaborative process. Adam B. Cordover is president of Next Generation Divorce, a 501(c)(3) and Florida’s largest interdisciplinary collaborative practice group with member attorneys, mental health professionals, and financial professionals throughout Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Sarasota, and Manatee Counties. Adam is also on the Executive Board and co-chair of the Research Committee of the Collaborative Family Law Council of Florida. Further, Adam is a graduate of the inaugural class of the Leadership Academy of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals. You can learn more about us and our services at Attorney Adam B. Cordover is admitted to the Florida Bar and the United States District Court, Middle District of Florida. His office is located at 412 East Madison Street, Suite 824, Tampa, Florida 33602.
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