Florida Divorce, Financial Affidavits, and Privacy

In almost any Florida family law matter that involves financial issues, such as child support, alimony, division of property and debt, or attorney’s fees, parties are required to exchange and file Florida Family Law Financial Affidavits.  Financial Affidavits outline each party’s source(s) of income, as well as expenses, assets, and liabilities.

And, when they are filed, they become part of the public record, accessible by anyone.

Most people, for any number reasons, do not want their financial profile to become public.  And yet, when people go through the traditional litigated divorce, that’s exactly what happens.

But it does not need to be that way.

As Joryn Jenkins alluded to in her article on the website of the Collaborative Divorce Institute of Tampa Bay, there is a process by which judges in Hillsborough County and around the state are permitting parties to file “naked” or redacted financial affidavits:  collaborative divorce.

Collaborative divorce is a form of private dispute resolution in which each client hires their own attorney whose job is to help the client reach an agreement on all divorce issues.  Collaborative attorneys understand that the courtroom is a very public forum for resolving very private issues, and so the collaborative attorneys are contractually-barred from bringing issues to be resolved by a judge.

A facilitator is hired to help bring the clients together and focus on the issues that are important to them, such as the best interests of any children and the clients’ ability to remain part of the same religious and social institutions.  A facilitator can also help the clients privately address embarrassing issues such as infidelity or addiction.

If there are businesses or extensive portfolios involved, a neutral financial professional (such as an accountant or financial planner) is retained to efficiently gather needed documents, provide sensible options for the division of assets and debts, and recommend how the clients can best position their financial futures.  As is often the case, if one of the spouses is less financially savvy, the financial professional can help teach necessary skills such as budgeting and checkbook balancing.

At the end of a collaborative divorce, like any divorce in Florida, the clients will need to go in front of a judge who will enter a final judgment granting the dissolution of marriage.  However, by the time the case gets in front of the judge, all issues will have been decided in private.  In Hillsborough County, and in more and more counties around the state, most financial agreements, and the Financial Affidavits, will not need to be filed or made part of the public record.

By the way, the collaborative process is not just for divorce.  This private process can be used in paternity, child support, prenuptial, postnuptial, and even post-judgment family law cases.

If you have questions regarding how a Tampa Bay collaborative process can preserve your family’s privacy, schedule a consultation with a collaborative attorney at 813-443-0615 or by filling out our contact form.

Adam B. Cordover is Vice President of the Collaborative Divorce Institute of Tampa Bay and one of 24 professionals around the world selected to be part of the inaugural class of the Leadership Academy 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 www.FamilyDiplomacy.com. 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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