I frequently address professional and other groups, talking about divorce. Those attending always come up to me afterward and refer to my passion when discussing divorce and helping children and families restructure relationships.
I am a divorce lawyer, and I love my job. Let me count the ways.
- I like helping people and have found a niche and ability to do just that.
- I truly care about people, especially those who are sincere and cooperative. Many persons going through divorce are grieving the loss of a relationship. They can be fearful regarding not knowing what to expect. Many do not even want to divorce. I am able to help by explaining the process, how it works, what to expect in the future, approximately how long the process may take, what is expected of them and the other side, and the approximate cost in terms of fees.
- I save families every day. Children are a precious and fragile legacy. I take the time to explain to my clients the necessity and reasons not to allow a stranger judge to rule. I encourage my clients to take the responsibility to resolve all issues, problems and concerns, especially those relating to children. That agreement is a gift that keeps on giving to their children.
- I sleep well at night. I know I have done my best to help my clients understand the reasons to resolve matters.
- I promote my clients’ minor children’s interests as my highest priority.
- I do not particularly care for the word “DIVORCE.” I prefer “restructuring relationships.”
- I actually promote marriage, mom and apple pie. However, if a divorce must occur, I feel fortunate to be able to help my clients with as smooth or less rocky transition from marriage.
- I enjoy working with my clients, helping them through a hard time. My clients often tell me they know I care about them and are so appreciative.
- Fairness is in the eyes of the beholder. I promote being firm for fairness. I do not ever advise my clients to give in to unreasonable demands. I actually find court enjoyable, as a last resort from the standpoint of a court of competition in which I am always prepared and always professional and never overbearing. I like to think my clients obtain as good of results as can be from the facts and law. My courtroom style is effective and appreciated by judges, who have told me this. With that said, I have never known of a truly good outcome in court in terms of money spent, time expended, and stress and aggravation to the client.
- My clients are like family. We cooperate on all of the major matters in the end, but can respectfully agree to disagree. I ask my clients to be open to alternatives and creative options.
- If a client wants to fight, I tell that client to hire someone else.
- After 40 plus years of practice, I finally understand my role and job as a divorce lawyer. I know my style of practice is different from any other lawyer. I love my job and hope to be able to continue helping people for many years to come.
- Divorce is a grief process. Loss of a relationship can be just as traumatic as death. I know, because I have had a divorce and am a widower. I know grief and its impact on coping and decision making. My past experiences with loss and grief not only make me a better person but better able to understand the emotional torment of clients.
- The initial consultation between the divorce lawyer and prospective clients will likely determine the outcome of the case. At the initial consultation, I listen very carefully and assess my clients’ financial and emotional needs, assess my clients’ feelings toward their spouse and ability to be cooperative, reasonable and practical. I find that I am able to help many who express feelings of distrust, anger and fear. The key is to allow my clients to fully express their feelings.
- Persons with traits of personality disorder are typically difficult to work with and require an entirely different approach from me as their lawyer. I find overly gracious and overly critical comments by a prospective client can either mean this person is married to a difficult person or this person is the difficult person. There are ways in which to attempt to work with difficult persons, but that would be the subject of much more time than we have here. I would also refer any interested persons to Bill Eddy, http://www.highconflictinstitute.com/, the authority on high conflict persons.
The fact that I am a Florida Bar Board Certified Family Law Attorney, recipient of numerous awards and professional recognitions, means nothing in the short run or long run. They are merely the result of years of sincere and dedicated work helping others.
Areas of Practice
- Family Law 100%
Certified Legal Specialties
- Marital and Family Law, Florida Bar Association, 1985
- Florida, 1971
- U.S. District Court Middle District of Florida, 1971
- University of Florida College of Law, Gainesville, Florida
- J.D. - 1971
- University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida
- Honors: Who's Who in American Colleges & Universities
- Honors: Florida Blue Key (Honorary)
- Honors: Omicron Delta Kappa (Honorary)
- Honors: University Hall of Fame
- Major: English
- Major: Political Science
- Advocacy in Collaborative Practice, Collaborative Professionals of Southwest Florida, 04/05/2012 to 04/05/2012
- Being the Best You Can Be in Your Professional Role in Helping Families, Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (FLAFCC Conference), 03/30/2012 to 03/31/2012
- Skills Training Presentation, Charlotte County Family Law Bar Association, 03/28/2012 to 03/28/2012
- The Anatomy of the Cost of Divorce: A Frank Discussion of Fees (co-presented by Shelly Finman, Esq. and Steve Thompson, Esq.), 02/23/2012 to 02/23/2012
- Legal Issues, Parent Coordination Training (FL, Co-presented with the Hon. (Ret) Hugh E. Starnes, Sr., Circuit Judge), The Association of Family Law Professionals, 06/24/2010 to 06/24/2010
- Dangerous Times, Confessions, and Lessons Learned panel moderator, AFLP Annual Conference , 06/11/2010 to 06/11/2010
- Problem-Solving Divorce Procedures and Best Practices, Barry Law School, 2008 to 2010
- Child Focused Negotiation of Parenting Plan: "Through the Eyes of the Child" (co-presented with the Hon. Hugh E. Starnes, Retired Circuit Court Judge, Deborah C. Silver, Psy.D., and JoAnne Holt, CPA), Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, Florida Chapter, 03/12/2010 to 03/12/2010
- Parenting Plans, annual conference of The Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC), 05/29/2009 to 05/29/2009
- A Cooperative Skills Workshop, The Florida Chapter of The Association of Florida and Conciliation Courts (FLAFCC), 02/27/2009 to 02/27/2009
- The Parenting Tribunal Panel (co-presented with Dr. Deborah C. Silver, Psy.D), State Dispute Resolution Center Annual Conference, 08/30/2008 to 08/30/2008
Honors and Awards
- AFLP Second Annual Hugh E. Starnes "Think Outside the Box" award for leadership and dedication to non-adversarial practice
- 1st Annual Career Contribution Award, by The Gainesville Collaborative Divorce Team and the University of Florida Institute for Dispute Resolution and Center For Children and Families
- Lifetime Achievement Award as the Father of Cooperative Law, The Association of Family Law Professionals
- 2009 Professionalism Award by The Lee County Bar Association
- Bar Register of Pre-Eminent Lawyers
- Martindale-Hubbell AV
- First Mediator of any Type in Lee County, Florida
Professional Associations and Memberships
- Association of Family Law Professionals, Attorney, 1994 to Present
- Association of Families and Conciliation Courts (AFCC), Attorney/Mediator, 2000 to Present
- Florida Chapter of Families and Conciliation Courts, FLAFCC, 2000 to Present
- Academy of Family Mediators (AFM), Attorney/Mediator, 1984 to 2000
- Florida Bar Association, Family Law Section, Attorney, 1975 to Present
- Collaborative Professionals of Southwest Florida, Attorney/Mediator, 2009 to Present
- Florida Academy of Collaborative Professionals, Board Member, 2009 to Present
- International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (IACP), Attorney/Mediator, 2004 to Present
Past Employment Positions
- Robinson, Ginsberg, Ross, Yost & Dent, PA, Attorney Associate, 1971 to 1973
- Allen, Knudsen, Swartz, DeBoest, Rhodes & Edwards, P.A., Attorney/Partner, 1973 to 1977
- Sheldon E. Finman, P.A., Attorney/President, 1977 to 2012
Pro Bono Activities
- Lee County Q&A Panel, 2005 to Present
- Private Pro-Bono Client Work, 2000 to Present
- Chair, Family Law Advisory Group (FLAG), 2003 to Present
- President, Family Resource Center Board of Directors (court approve nonprofit parent supervision agency), 2010 to Present
- Divorce Mediation
- Divorce Training in Problem Solving Procedures and Best Practices
- Tau Epsilon Phi