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Proposed family law bill would support collaborative divorce

For many Florida couples, the end of a marriage does not necessarily include a mix of anger, bitterness or resentment. Many spouses are simply ready to move on, and eager to complete the legalities required in order to do so. For these couples, collaboration offers a divorce approach that focuses on reaching a mutually agreeable resolution, not on waging war with one's soon-to-be ex. One state is considering family law legislation aimed at promoting collaborative divorce.

When spouses work together to resolve their differences, the outcome can be faster, less costly and far less stressful than a traditionally litigated divorce. In addition, spouses who share children can use the lessons learned during collaboration to shape their new relationship as co-parents. By using divorce attorneys who are trained in the collaborative method, spouses will have plenty of guidance as they move through the process.

The proposed legislation that is being considered in Pennsylvania and some other states is meant to support the collaborative process, and to ensure that spouses who seek this type of resolution will have a standardized experience no matter where they reside. The bill would prohibit divorce attorneys from providing any additional legal services to a spouse who is unable to complete the collaborative process. The intention is to motivate attorneys to work toward a successful divorce settlement by way of collaboration.

Collaborative divorce law is a relatively new approach, but one that can yield an array of benefits to those Florida families that are looking for a less contentious path from married to single. While collaboration will not be a good fit for every divorcing couple, this family law approach could change the way that Americans think about divorce. Instead of framing the experience as an act of war, collaboration could shift the focus to one of mutually advantageous problem-solving. 

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Divorcing? Dial it down", Debra Denison Cantor and Ann V. Levin, July 5, 2015

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