Divorce is often portrayed as a messy affair. One that takes family life, daily routines, raw emotion and swirls it around until it can no longer be recognized as the relationship it once was. Throw a family business in the mix and you just might have the Picasso of divorces.
Usually, each party will hire their own attorneys and, in the cases of family businesses, their own forensic or expert analysts to say who owns which lines on the canvas. After each professional gives their findings, litigation moves forward which usually leads to a judge interpreting the findings and making a final decision.
Now there is an alternative to the aforementioned proceedings – The Collaborative Process. On March 24, Governor Rick Scott signed HB-967 into law, otherwise known as the Collaborative Law Process Act. H.R. 967, Reg. Sess. (2016) (enacted). The focus of this law is to provide a “non-adversarial approach” to the divorce process. Moving forward in this method, records from the business are kept private. Something that might mean more when the business is in the family. One of the other main aspects is the use of neutral party experts and analysts. Rather than each side hiring their own independent professional, a single neutral person in the required field gathers their findings, presents it to both parties, and then they decide how to proceed with the information; be it financial settlement, splitting assets, child support, etc.
By using this method, one would be able to see that by taking out the redundancy of separate experts doing the same job, it would automatically reduce the cost of the litigation process. The Collaborative Process Act brings the focus to getting issues resolved in an orderly fashion. The professionals, along with each party, meet together and the information is laid out for each to take in and process accordingly.
Collaborative Divorce is completely voluntary, with either side being able to stop the process at any time. However, if stopped, no expert or attorney used can be used thereafter in the divorce. This insures that every member is there to resolve the issues. This is a promising new approach that appears to be making changes for the better.
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Partner at John F. Schutz, P.L.
Representing clients exclusively in family law cases for the past 24 years, Mr. Schutz is widely regarded as a marital and family law expert. He is Board Certified in marital and family law by The Florida Bar. As a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), Mr. Schutz is committed to elevating the standards and improving the practice of family law.
Latest posts by John Schutz (see all)
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