Florida Supreme Court Adopts New Collaborative Divorce Forms

Florida collaborative dissolution forms

Effective Thursday, October 15, 2020, the Supreme Court of Florida adopted new Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure Forms 12.985(a)-(g). These new collaborative divorce forms are for couples like you who may be considering the collaborative process for dissolution of your marriage.

The new forms generally guide lawyers newly engaged in the collaborative law process. In July 2017, Florida’s Collaborative Law Process Act, section 61.56, Florida Statutes, took effect. On May 18, 2017, the Supreme Court of Florida adopted Florida Rule of Family Law Procedure 12.745 and Florida Rule 4-1.19, Rules Regulating the Florida Bar.

Florida Family Law Forms 12.985(a) – (g)

The new forms, effective October 15, 2020, for collaborative Florida divorce cases, work with the collaborative Florida statute, procedural rule, and ethical rule.

Click on the linked title to download a pdf of these Florida Family Law of Procedure Forms 12.985(a)-(g) for collaborative dissolution of marriage:

  1. Introduction and Explanatory Remarks for Forms 12.985(a)-(g) Collaborative Dissolution Process Forms.
  2. Explanation of Collaborative Dissolution Process (Attorney – Client) – Florida Family Law Form 12.985(a).  The lawyer must explain the collaborative law process to you before you choose collaborative law option.  Lawyers must explain available process options. When you’re informed, you can choose wisely the option that best fits your family.
  3. Collaborative Law Participation Agreement Principles and Guidelines Florida Family Law Form 12.985(b)(1) – Lays out for the collaborative team principles and guidelines for the collaborative law process. The principles and guidelines include:
    • Goals – Avoid litigation and its negative economic, social, and emotional consequences to you and your family.
    • No Court Intervention – The collaborative process is voluntary and private. It allows you and your spouse, not a judge, to take control of solutions and important decisions.
    • Information gathering – Transparent exchange of important information gets rid of formal discovery (depositions, subpoenas, interrogatories, lawyers’ requests to produce).
    • Separate, independent attorneys – You and your spouse each have your own attorney, but they work with the collaborative team.
    • Interest-based negotiation – With your attorney’s help, you assert your interests, rather than inflexible legal positions. What is important to you and your family?
    • Professionals’ fees and costs – At each team meeting, you and your team will plan and discuss paying professionals’ fees.
    • Integrity, privacy, dignity, respect, good faith negotiation – you and your spouse commit to living by these principles during the collaborative process.
    • Children’s issues – The collaborative team makes your children a priority.
    • Disqualification in litigation – Your collaborative attorneys, neutrals, and experts can’t represent you or your spouse in contested litigation. But you, your spouse, and the collaborative experts may agree to use in contested litigation work product the team has developed in the collaborative process.
    • Confidential communications – Communications during the collaborative process are confidential, with limited exceptions.
    • Termination of Collaborative Process – Describes how the collaborative process terminates by final order or otherwise.
  4. Collaborative Law Participation Agreement – Florida Family Law Form 12.985(b)(2) is an approved form for a contractual commitment known as a Collaborative Law Participation Agreement. Signing such an agreement officially starts the collaborative process. The agreement covers:
    • Beginning and ending the collaborative process.
    • Attorneys and “disqualification clause”
    • Other Professionals – often include a neutral facilitator with a background in mental health
    • Confidentiality and Privileged Collaborative Communications
    • Clients’ acknowledgements and responsibilities
    • Termination of the Process
  5. Joint Notice of Collaborative Law Participation Agreement – Florida Family Law Form 12.985(c) – Used to notify the court, if litigation already started, that you and your spouse have signed a Collaborative Law Participation Agreement and have committed to resolving your issues collaboratively.
  6. Confidentiality Agreement for Neutral, Individual Consultant, or Note Taker – Florida Family Law Form 12.985(d). In a full collaborative team model, a neutral collaborative mental health professional and neutral collaborative financial professional guide you, your spouse, and your lawyers through the process. The neutrals and sometimes consultants for you or your spouse, help with gather information, identifying issues, developing options, and reaching agreements. A notetaker or “scribe” may help with reflecting in meeting notes important discussions.
  7. Amendment to Collaborative Law Process Participation Agreement – Florida Family Law Form 12.985(e) – A collaborative law attorney may substitute for an attorney in the process without terminating it. The substitute attorney signs this form and the process continues with the other collaborative team members.
  8. Notice of Termination of Collaborative Law Process – Florida Family Law Form 12.985(f) If the collaborative process terminates, a pending action put on hold during the collaborative process may resume.
  9. Joint Verified Petition and Verified Answer for Dissolution of Marriage – Florida Family Law Form 12.985(g) – filed with the court after you and your spouse resolve your divorce issues, to ask the court to ratify your collaborative agreements and, if there are dependent children, a parenting plan.

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