Finding Alternatives to Adversarial Divorce
When I began practicing law in 1971, one member of a couple had to sue the other for divorce, forcing that person to take an adversarial stance. From there, each person would retain a lawyer and come at the proceedings with a “hackles up” attitude, making the entire process into an ordeal that takes far longer than it should, costs a small fortune and leaves the entire family in an emotional, financial and physical shambles.
The old model of divorce is not conducive to a healthy life going forward.
As I watched this occur over and over again, I realized there had to be a better way for families to transition through divorce so that the family bonds that will always exist can be strengthened instead of distressed or destroyed. I became the first certified mediator in Lee County, Florida, in 1983 with the intention of giving families an alternative to the traditional methods of divorce. Working with divorce mediation led me into learning about other problem-solving methods of resolving legal conflicts.
Since then, I have dedicated my law practice to helping our clients find alternatives to an adversarial divorce. My daughter Julia joined the law firm in 2016. Prior to joining the firm, Julia worked as a family law attorney in Tampa for over 6 years. Our law office is in Fort Myers and we represent clients throughout southwest Florida, including Cape Coral.
In the 1990s, I worked with retired Judge Hugh E. Starnes to create a cooperative divorce process. This allows couples to work together to come up with a divorce settlement through interest-based negotiations. The intent is for each side to consider the other’s goals and wishes while coming up with a solution that will serve everyone, including the couple’s children, and allow for continued clear communication after the divorce. If the couple cannot resolve their issues to the satisfaction of both people, the case is moved forward into court.
I started practicing collaborative divorce in 2000. This alternative dispute resolution process was created by attorney Stu Webb and is focused exclusively on the two sides coming together to focus exclusively on problem solving in order to reach a settlement that allows both sides to be comfortable with the final outcome and feel that they have control over the decisions made. If the couple is unable to resolve their differences, the attorneys on both sides are required to withdraw from the case, and the couple will begin again from square one in court.
All of these methods are designed to have the minimum impact on the post-divorce family. I have found by letting people talk and understanding where they are coming from, we can get a lot more done and come up with solutions that satisfy both parties instead of resorting to the adversarial method of divorce.
For More Information About Our Approach To Family Law
For more information about our problem-solving approach to divorce and family law matters, call us at 239-215-4952 or complete our contact form to schedule an initial consultation. Our law office is in Fort Myers and we represent clients throughout southwest Florida, including Cape Coral.