If you are planning to file for divorce in Pinellas County, or elsewhere in Florida, you will need to try either collaboration or mediation before taking your divorce to court. Collaborative divorce is a great option if you want and need the input of a divorce attorney throughout the process. Here are the steps you and your spouse will need to take to utilize this time and money-saving process for your divorce.
1. Hire a Divorce Attorney Experienced in Collaborative Divorce
Both you and your spouse need your own attorneys. As you interview potential attorneys, make sure they are experienced in this type of divorce. The right divorce attorney for a hard-fought court battle may or may not be the right one for your collaboration.
2. Sign a “No Court” Agreement
This agreement must be signed by you, your spouse, and both attorneys. This agreement not only states that you agree not to go to court, but that if either party gives up on the collaboration that both must seek new counsel.
3. Have Separate Meetings with Your Divorce Attorney
Because every divorcing couple has different assets and liabilities, no two are the same. Some families have children, others do not. You need to speak with your attorney about what you want out of the divorce. Help your attorney understand what is non-negotiable and what you would like but are willing to give up in order to get what is on your must have list.
4. Meet Together
You will likely need to meet several times together with your spouse and the attorneys. Rather than going in thinking about the meeting as us against them, think of the meetings as a coming together to settle terms where everyone will walk away with what is most important. With collaborative divorce a positive mindset from day one helps the process work.
5. Go Over Progress with Your Attorney
Although it would be great if you and your spouse could agree on everything, that rarely happens. Because of that, after each session you will likely need to discuss with your attorney where you are willing to give now that you were not willing to previously. You may also decide if you need a financial specialist or accountant brought in to fairly divide assets or liabilities. Once you have a new plan, you will need to go back to step four and repeat until you and your spouse have agreed to terms.
6. Have a Settlement Agreement Drawn Up
Whether your attorney or your spouse’s handles this, it does not truly matter. Ideally you have agreed to all points and are ready to sign the agreement. Once you both sign it, it goes to a judge. Assuming the judge sees the settlement agreement as fair, the judge will sign it and you will be divorced.
Experienced & Compassionate Collaborative Divorce Attorneys
The Wagstaff & Pitelis team has the experience to handle your collaborative divorce. We can also take your case if you tried collaboration but it failed, and you need a new divorce attorney. Call us today at (727) 584-8182 for help with any family law matters.