In 2020, the Supreme Court of Florida adopted collaborative divorce forms. See Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure Forms 12.985(a)-(g). See In Re Amendments to the Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure – Forms 12.985(a) – (g) (Collaborative Law Process), 345 So. 3d 1, Case No. SC19-1032 (Fla. October 14, 2020). These forms are for couples like you who may be considering the collaborative process for your divorce.
The 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.
Collaborative Divorce Forms: Florida Family Law Forms 12.985(a) – (g)
Click on the linked title to download these Florida Family Law of Procedure (updated July 2022) collaborative divorce forms:
- Introduction and Explanatory Remarks for Forms 12.985(a)-(g) Collaborative Dissolution Process Forms.
- Explanation of Collaborative Dissolution Process (Attorney – Client) – Florida Family Law Form 12.985(a). The lawyer must explain the collaborative law process and other options available to you. You can then choose wisely the option that best fits your family.
- Collaborative Law Participation Agreement Principles and Guidelines – Florida Family Law Form 12.985(b)(1) – Lays out principles and guidelines for the collaborative law process. They include:
- Goals – Avoid litigation and its negative economic, social, and emotional consequences.
- No Court Intervention – The collaborative process is voluntary and private. It allows you and your spouse, not a judge, to create and take control of solutions.
- Information gathering – Open 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, who 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? You get to say!
- 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 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.
- Collaborative Law Participation Agreement – Florida Family Law Form 12.985(b)(2) is an approved form for a contractual commitment called 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 a “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.
- Joint Notice of Collaborative Law Participation Agreement – Florida Family Law Form 12.985(c) – Notice to the court, if litigation started, that you and your spouse have signed a Collaborative Law Participation Agreement and have committed to resolving your issues collaboratively.
- 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. The neutrals, and sometimes consultants for you or your spouse, help you gather information, identify issues, develop options, and reach agreements. A notetaker or “scribe” may help with reflecting in meeting notes important discussions.
- 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. The process continues with the other collaborative team members.
- Notice of Termination of Collaborative Law Process – Florida Family Law Form 12.985(f) If the collaborative process terminates, an action put on hold during the collaborative process may resume.
- Joint Verified Petition and Verified Answer for Dissolution of Marriage – Florida Family Law Form 12.985(g) – After you and your spouse resolve your divorce issues, this joint petition asks the court to ratify your agreements and, if there are dependent children, a parenting plan.