Florida’s Collaborative Law Process Act

Florida’s Collaborative Law Process Act, section 61.56, Florida Statutes, took effect July 1, 2017. On May 18, 2017, the Supreme Court of Florida adopted Florida Family Law Rule of Procedure 12.745 and Rule 4-1.19, Rules Regulating the Florida Bar.

Collaborative: Promoting Peace & Early Settlement

The Florida Collaborative Law Process Act and rules create a uniform process in collaborative Florida family law cases.  The collaborative option encourages the peaceful resolution of disputes and the early settlement of pending litigation through voluntary settlement procedures. 

When the Supreme Court adopted the collaborative rules, it noted the collaborative approach tries to preserve the working relationship between parties.

The Collaborative Process: Informed Consent

Under Florida’s collaborative ethical rule, Rule 4-1.19, Rules Regulating the Florida Bar, your prospective lawyer team member must have your  informed consent to resolve your matter using the collaborative method.  Therefore, as you consider your options, expect that your prospective lawyer and you will discuss:

(1) the material benefits and risks of using the collaborative law process to resolve your family law matter;

(2) the nature and scope of the matter to be resolved;

(3) alternatives to collaborative (including do-it-yourself, mediation, or litigation);

(4) that participation in collaborative is voluntary and any client may unilaterally terminate the process for any reason;

(5) that the collaborative law process will terminate if, after signing the collaborative participation agreement, any participant initiates a court proceeding or seeks court intervention related to the collaborative law matter;

(6) limitations on the lawyer’s participation in subsequent proceedings imposed by family law court rules; and

(7) fees and costs you can reasonably expect to incur, including fees of the lawyers, mental health professionals, and financial professionals.

Collaborative: Transparent and Goal-Focused

The collaborative process is transparent.  First, a collaborating couple commits to resolve issues openly and with respect. Further, the couple commits to listening.  Next, the couple agrees to not get stuck on positions.  Instead, they agree to focus on future needs and goals.  The couple starts by identifying on a whiteboard their goals and interests and often find common ones.

Consistent with these principles, Florida Family Law Rule of Procedure 12.745 states the couple will make timely, full, candid and informal disclosure of information.  In collaborative matters, there’s no formal discovery.  Clients must promptly update information that materially changes.

Read More About Florida’s Collaborative Rules

Read the Supreme Court of Florida’s opinion adopting the collaborative rules at In Re Amendments to Rule Regulating Florida Bar 4-1.19, 218 So. 3d 440 (Fla. May 18, 2017) and amended January 4, 2019, effective March 5, 2019 at In Re Amendments to Rule Regulating Florida Bar – Biennial Petition, 267 So. 3d 891 (Fla. January 4, 2019)

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