Create a long lasting plan for your family.The Collaborative Process lets you control the process, cost, timetable, and your privacy.

Collaborative Family Law: Florida Favors Settlement Agreements

Collaborative Family Law: Florida Favors Settlement Agreements

Florida favors settlement agreements of family law disputes. Parents may agree to take on obligations based on future events. That’s true even if a court otherwise couldn’t impose those obligations. This power parents have in collaborative divorce to make agreements…

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Uniform Collaborative Law Act (UCLA) Statewide Chart of Enactment

Uniform Collaborative Law Act (UCLA) Statewide Chart of Enactment

Please see the statewide chart of enactment of the Uniform Collaborative Law Act (UCLA), with links to state laws. On August 16, 2021, New Hampshire became the 21st state (plus the District of Columbia) to adopt the Uniform Collaborative Law…

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Collaborative Family Law Agreements: Parenting Plan Basics

Collaborative Family Law Agreements: Parenting Plan Basics

What is a Parenting Plan? In Florida, a ‘Parenting Plan’ governs the relationship between parents “relating to decisions that must be made regarding the minor child.” Section 61.046(14), Florida Statutes. See CN  v. IGC, Case No. SC20-505 (Florida Supreme Court April 29, 2021). …

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Florida Parenting Coordinator Rules

Florida Parenting Coordinator Rules

The Supreme Court of Florida amended the Florida Rules for Qualified and Court-Appointed Parenting Coordinators (“Parenting Coordinator Rules”). See In Re: Amendments to the Florida Rules for Qualified and Court-Appointed Parenting Coordinators, Case No. SC20-942 (Fla. December 2, 2021). Summary of…

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Remind Employees to Update Beneficiary Designations After Divorce

Remind Employees to Update Beneficiary Designations After Divorce

Employers: think about reminding your employees to update their beneficiary designations after divorce. For multiple covered assets, section 732.703, Florida Statutes voids upon divorce beneficiary designations of an ex-spouse. See State Farm Life Insurance Company v. Stone, Case No. 5:15-cv-267-Oc-30PRL (MD…

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Divorce and Beneficiary Designations — Florida Statutes §732.703

Divorce and Beneficiary Designations — Florida Statutes §732.703

Introduction  How does divorce affect your beneficiary designation of your ex-spouse of assets when you die?  Multiple assets covered under Florida’s automatic revocation statute, Section 732.703, pass as if your surviving ex-spouse died first.  How it Plays Out: Life Insurance Beneficiary Designations…

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Collaborative Parenting Plans: A Child’s Prospective Best Interests

Collaborative Parenting Plans: A Child’s Prospective Best Interests

Collaborative Parenting Plans in Florida divorce or paternity cases may address your child’s future best interests in ways Florida family judges can’t.  Judges are not prophets: A judge has no crystal ball to see how future events might affect your…

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Collaborative Family Law Agreements: A Child’s Future Best Interests

Collaborative Family Law Agreements:  A Child’s Future Best Interests

Judges Must Make Decisions About Children’s Best Interests Based On Present Facts, Not Future Best Interests. Judges must decide parenting issues based on your child’s best interests as of the final hearing, not on your child’s future best interests. A…

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Florida Parenting Plans & Events Reasonably Certain to Occur

Florida Parenting Plans & Events Reasonably Certain to Occur

When Can a Judge Look Ahead? When ordering a parenting plan in a Florida divorce or paternity action, the judge generally must stick to the present. The judge must make determinations based on findings about your child’s present best interests.…

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Children’s Best Interests: Parenting Plans Entail Prediction

Children’s Best Interests: Parenting Plans Entail Prediction

Parenting plans govern parents’ future conduct in relationship towards each other and towards their children.  These relationships comprise regular and holiday timesharing schedules, decision making about major events in a child’s life, and communications. Parents and judges necessarily look ahead to…

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Collaborative Parenting Plans: Extraordinary Burden for Modification

Collaborative Parenting Plans: Extraordinary Burden for Modification

In Florida, parents face an extraordinary burden for modification of a parenting plan. This burden is called the “substantial change in circumstances” test. The test for modification applies unless the initial final judgment provides otherwise. In Wade v. Hirschman, 903 So.2d…

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Collaborative Parenting Plans: Judges Must Safeguard Children

Collaborative Parenting Plans: Judges Must Safeguard Children

When considering parents’ agreements, judges must safeguard kids. A court isn’t bound by parents’ agreements regarding child support, custody, or visitation. Feliciano v. Feliciano, 674 So.2d 937 (Fla. 4th DCA 1996); see also Yitzhari v. Yitzhari, 906 So.2d 1250, 1257 n. 4 (Fla. 3d DCA…

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Collaborative Parenting Plans: Anticipating Events Certain to Occur

Collaborative Parenting Plans: Anticipating Events Certain to Occur

Parents in Florida divorce and paternity cases may anticipate and plan for events reasonably certain to occur in their children’s lives. They may enter into parenting agreements that flexibly adjust provisions when predicted and planned for events take place. Case…

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Parenting Plan Modification: Enlist Court Review When Events Occur

Parenting Plan Modification: Enlist Court Review When Events Occur

A court has an ongoing obligation to safeguard minor children’s best interests. Collaborating parents may agree to enlist court review to approve modifications when events they anticipated in their parenting plans occur. Parents’ attempts to trigger automatic modifications for uncertain…

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Collaborative Parenting Plans: How Will You Resolve Future Impasses?

Collaborative Parenting Plans: How Will You Resolve Future Impasses?

Many parents agree to resolve privately future impasses if they can’t agree on decisions for their children. Parents who choose the collaborative process appreciate court fighting can be costly and drawn out. These concerns apply equally for initial proceedings and…

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Contingencies Parents Build into their Parenting Plans in Florida Divorces

Contingencies Parents Build into their Parenting Plans in Florida Divorces

For events you anticipate, can you build into your parenting plan modifications? CN v. IGC: Leaves Open Question of Whether Agreed On Contingencies are “Modifications” In C.N. v I.G.C., Case No. SC20-505 (Fla. April 29, 2021), a mother invited the…

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Florida Parenting Plans: Agreeing to a Different Burden for Modification

Florida Parenting Plans: Agreeing to a Different Burden for Modification

You may agree your judgment will provide for a lesser burden for modification than the substantial change in circumstances test. Read more about that extraordinary burden here. The Supreme Court of Florida noted a judgment could provide a different standard…

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Beneficiary Designations: Checklist for Collaborative Teams

Beneficiary Designations: Checklist for Collaborative Teams

This Beneficiary Designations Checklist for collaborative teams can help couples develop options for beneficiary designations after divorce. One spouse may want the other named as beneficiary of insurance policies, annuities, accounts or other assets. The couple may have good reasons…

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Collaborative Marital Settlement Agreements: Insurance Policies

Collaborative Marital Settlement Agreements: Insurance Policies

On divorce, Florida law automatically revokes beneficiary designations under insurance policies in favor of an ex-spouse. But you and your spouse may say in your collaborative marital settlement agreement you intend to designate one or the other as beneficiary. Otherwise,…

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Automatic Revocation of Will Provisions that Affect an Ex-Spouse

Automatic Revocation of Will Provisions that Affect an Ex-Spouse

Spouses should know Florida Statutes automatically revokes certain will provisions upon a final judgment of dissolution or annulment.  Florida’s automatic revocation on divorce statute section 732.507(2), Florida Statutes may void provisions of a will that “affect” a former spouse. After…

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Collaborative Marital Agreements — Beneficiary Designations After Divorce

Collaborative Marital Agreements — Beneficiary Designations After Divorce

Florida law revokes on divorce beneficiary designations that “affect” an ex-spouse.  For more, read here, here and here. Therefore, to avoid automatic revocation of beneficiary designations on divorce, Collaborative Marital Settlement Agreements should address interests in: assets subject to beneficiary designations…

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Florida Parenting Plans – Consent to Child’s Mental Health Treatment

Florida Parenting Plans – Consent to Child’s Mental Health Treatment

How do parenting plans provide for consent to mental health treatment for a child?  What does “mental health treatment” even mean and include?  Further, what if parents don’t agree on mental health treatment their child should continue, undertake, or stop?…

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Parental Responsibility and Decision Making

Parental Responsibility and Decision Making

Parents in Florida divorce and paternity cases decide if they will share parental responsibility and decision making for their child. Therefore, they must agree to a “Parenting Plan” or have a judge decide on a plan.  In collaborative practice, parents…

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Shared Parental Responsibility and Sole Parental Responsibility

Shared Parental Responsibility and Sole Parental Responsibility

Parents who “share parental responsibility” retain full parental rights and responsibilities for their child. This means both parents confer with each other to make decisions for their child. See Section 61.046(17), Florida Statutes. In sharing responsibility for decisions, parents generally must…

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Shared Parenting – Retained Consent to Mental Health Treatment

Shared Parenting – Retained Consent to Mental Health Treatment

Florida law treats consent to “mental health treatment” for a child differently from other major decisions. Specifically, when parents share responsibility, their parenting plans must provide each parent retains consent to the child’s mental health treatment. See Section 61.13(2)(b)3., Florida…

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Florida Law: Each Parent Retains Consent to Mental Health Treatment

Florida Law: Each Parent Retains Consent to Mental Health Treatment

In 2016, Florida law changed to mandate, in parenting plans designating shared parental responsibility, that either parent retains consent to their child’s mental health treatment. See Section 61.13(2)(b)3., Florida Statutes, amended by Laws of Florida 2016-241.  Analysis of the final…

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Collaborative Practice: Shared Parental Responsibility for Health Care

Collaborative Practice: Shared Parental Responsibility for Health Care

How do courts in Florida handle shared parental responsibility over a child’s health care? Florida family judges must determine parenting matters according to the child’s best interests and the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act.   Exception to Best…

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Collaborative Process: Clarifying Intent About “Mental Health Treatment”

Collaborative Process: Clarifying Intent About “Mental Health Treatment”

Florida’s divorce and paternity statutes don’t define “mental health treatment.” When they’re sharing parental responsibility, each parent retains parental consent to mental health treatment. However, by clarifying and agreeing to the scope of “mental health treatment” for their child, parents…

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What Is “Mental Health Treatment”?

What Is “Mental Health Treatment”?

Florida law provides either parent may consent to their child’s mental health treatment. But, what is “mental health treatment? Parents in collaborative divorce may attempt to state precisely their intent about “mental health treatment” for their child. Towards that end,…

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Language – “Mental Health Treatment”

Language – “Mental Health Treatment”

Parents in the Collaborative Process may consider using definitions of “mental health treatment.” This article give example language using definitions. For more about definitions, read the discussion here. For our Parenting Plan, “Mental Health Treatment” means these techniques, as defined…

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Informed Consent By One Parent – Florida Mental Health Professionals

Informed Consent By One Parent – Florida Mental Health Professionals

When Florida parents divorce and share parental responsibility, either may consent to mental health treatment for a child. Therefore, mental health treatment providers generally may accept informed consent by only one parent to mental health treatment.  A Parent Has a…

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Florida Mental Health Providers & Informed Consent

Florida Mental Health Providers & Informed Consent

Under Florida Law, mental health treatment providers, and their professions’ corresponding statutory informed consent requirements, include: Mental Health Provider Informed Consent References Psychiatrist licensed under Chapter 458 or 459, Florida Statutes Section 458.325(1), Florida Statutes provides, for electroconvulsive or psychosurgical…

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What If Parents Disagree About Child’s Mental Health Treatment?

What If Parents Disagree About Child’s Mental Health Treatment?

One parent may disagrees with the other parent’s consenting to mental health treatment for their child. The objecting parent often faces costly, time consuming, and inadequate remedies.  When parents disagree about mental health treatment, the objecting parent may ask the…

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Corporation or Trust Challenges to Service of Process and Jurisdiction

Corporation or Trust Challenges to Service of Process and Jurisdiction

By Michael P. Sampson (part 1 of 8)   What corporation or trust challenges to service of process or jurisdiction are available to get out of a family law case? This series discusses challenges to service of process and jurisdiction that…

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Challenge to Personal Jurisdiction: Service of Process

Challenge to Personal Jurisdiction: Service of Process

By Michael P. Sampson (part 2 of 8) Service of Process – Effective Service is Required A corporation or trust a spouse names in a Florida family law action may first consider a challenge to service of process. Through effective…

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Affidavits to Support Challenges to Jurisdiction in Florida Divorce

Affidavits to Support Challenges to Jurisdiction in Florida Divorce

By Michael P. Sampson (part 8 of 8) Affidavits: Important to Be Prepared! An entity drawn into a family law dispute typically must assemble sworn affidavits to support challenges to service of process or personal jurisdiction or both. See Fishman, Inc. v.…

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Domestic Partnership Agreements: FAQs

Domestic Partnership Agreements: FAQs

This final installment of a 7-part series about domestic partnership agreements answers frequently asked questions (FAQs) about them. How do domestic partnership agreements (DPAs) and prenuptial or premarital agreements differ? Marriage contracts between two people who plan to marry are prenuptial agreements…

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Domestic Partnership Agreements: Financial Disclosures and Privacy

Domestic Partnership Agreements: Financial Disclosures and Privacy

This sixth installment of a 7-part series about Domestic Partnership Agreements discusses financial disclosures and privacy. To avoid later attack on the domestic partnership agreement, the partners should make fair and reasonable financial disclosures to each other. Disclosures to Consider For…

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Survivor’s Rights on Domestic Partner’s Death

Survivor’s Rights on Domestic Partner’s Death

This fifth installment of a 7-part series about Domestic Partnership Agreements discusses survivor’s rights on death. Florida law provides for survivor’s rights if a married person dies before the other spouse and they have no premarital or postnuptial agreement.  But…

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Domestic Partnership Agreements: The Home and Joint Expenses

Domestic Partnership Agreements: The Home and Joint Expenses

This second installment of a 7-part series about domestic partnership agreements discusses the home and joint expenses.  Partners Acquiring a Home Together Two people may acquire a home together. They may contribute different amounts to the purchase price. During their relationship,…

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Domestic Partnership Agreements: Overview

Domestic Partnership Agreements: Overview

This first installment of a 7-part series gives an overview of  domestic partnership agreements. Married and Unmarried Committed Couples Many couples who could not legally marry now can. In Obergefell v. Hodges, The United States Supreme Court described the fundamental right…

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Domestic Partnership Agreements: Support When the Relationship Ends

Domestic Partnership Agreements: Support When the Relationship Ends

This fourth installment of a 7-part series about Domestic Partnership Agreements discusses support when the couple’s relationship ends. Florida law generally provides, when there is no premarital agreement, a spouse’s right to alimony on divorce depends on the spouse’s need…

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Custody of Children by Extended Family Member Including Fictive Kin

Custody of Children by Extended Family Member Including Fictive Kin

Effective July 1, 2020, Florida amended its law on Custody of Minor Children by Extended Family.  See Laws of Florida, Chapter No. 2020-146. An “extended family member” may ask the court for “temporary” or “concurrent” custody of a child.  That’s…

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Domestic Partnership Agreements: Separate and Jointly Acquired Property

Domestic Partnership Agreements: Separate and Jointly Acquired Property

This third installment of a 7-part series about Domestic Partnership Agreements discusses separate and jointly acquired property. Separate and Jointly Acquired Property Domestic partnership agreements should list or include an attached schedule of each party’s separate property. If the parties…

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Florida Collaborative Law Process Act, §61.55 – 61.58, Florida Statutes

Florida Collaborative Law Process Act, §61.55 – 61.58, Florida Statutes

PART III, CHAPTER 61, FLORIDA STATUTES COLLABORATIVE LAW PROCESS ACT 61.55 Purpose. 61.56 Definitions. 61.57 Beginning, concluding, and terminating a collaborative law process. 61.58 Confidentiality of a collaborative law communication. 61.55 Purpose.—The purpose of this part is to create a uniform system of practice for…

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Florida Collaborative Family Law Rule of Procedure 12.745

Florida Collaborative Family Law Rule of Procedure 12.745

RULE 12.745. COLLABORATIVE LAW PROCESS(a) Application. This rule governs all proceedings under chapter 61, part III, Florida Statutes. (b) Collaborative Law Process. (1) Initiating Process. (A) A collaborative law process begins, regardless of whether a legal proceeding is pending, when…

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Collaborative Divorce: Dividing Retirement Accounts

Collaborative Divorce: Dividing Retirement Accounts

The Challenge: In collaborative divorce, dividing retirement accounts can be tricky.  Collaborative teams, usually with a neutral collaborative financial professional’s help, must often figure out premarital and marital components of retirement assets.  How might the collaborative team approach the challenge?…

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