Family Lawyers & Therapists Work Together on Divorce

family lawyers and therapists

Picture for a moment the following Florida collaborative divorce scenario. We’re inside a Bay Area law office. Two people who have decided to dissolve their marriage due to irreconcilable differences sit across from each other at a table. Each is flanked by family lawyers and therapists. The nervousness is palpable.

The soon to be ex-husband repeatedly sips from an over sized cup of coffee; the nearly ex-wife taps her index finger on the mahogany table in an endless percussion. The therapists and lawyers begin the meeting by stating what their clients hope to achieve, and the mood in the room changes to one of acceptance.

Divorce is not a lovely process by any means, but collaborative divorce proceedings can lessen the painful journey, says St. Petersburg therapist KathyDan Moore, LMFT. You can open a tab to her page by holding the Ctrl key and clicking here. This is not a courtroom; no judge presides with the gavel at the ready. Others are not deciding the fate of these plaintiffs. They entered into this marriage contract on their own terms, and they will now dissolve it. They have the control. This is the main benefit of collaborative divorce.

After all the arguments and impasse, the most painful decision has already been made: this marriage will soon be over. What remains is the aftermath. And these lawyers and therapists are there to help. Meetings with just the lawyers may have already occurred; now, this joint meeting is the kickoff for a timeline of mutual agreeance. What financial and custody agreements must be solidified before this marriage ends? It’s decided here. Inside this room is the beginning of the end. And after all the months of fighting, that realization is comforting.

The therapists remind the couple that thanks to their willingness to undertake Florida collaborative divorce, a judge will not be the one who has the final say in their settlement. These spouses have decided to limit emotional pain by collaborating with professionals trained in such cases – and by doing so, they will limit the financial fallout of the divorce as well. Both nod. They are willing to go through the divorce process without adversarial attitudes.

Even though they understand what they hope to accomplish from the meeting, as the session progresses, negative emotions flare.  One spouse points at the partner’s lack of daily help with child-rearing as a reason for lessened visitation and begins listing all the ways he has fallen short of paternal expectations. He counters with a reminder of his breadwinner status in the relationship and therefore his lack of time.

The therapists manage the situation and remind their clients of the goal at hand. Cooperation is tantamount to the success of Florida collaborative divorce; without it, a more traditional divorce proceeding will be necessary. Both parties share information openly and state what they hope to keep from the union. By speaking clearly and without passion, they are able to come to an agreement.

The therapists had already pre-qualified this couple for the collaborative divorce process, so it’s not surprising that by the end of the hour, there’s a solid plan in place for dissolution. If an agreement had not been reached, new lawyers would have had to be hired and litigation begun.

The session is over. The lawyers leave to draw up a Marriage Settlement Agreement, which the spouses will willingly sign. And that courtroom battle that seemed inevitable months ago during all the disagreements? It never comes close to fruition.

For more information about collaborative divorce and how involving both a therapist and a Florida divorce attorney can save you time, money and heartache during marriage dissolution, visit the website for the Coleman Law Group.

Texting and Driving? – Think Again.

Injured car passenger calling an ambulance, in the background unconscious car driver.

We have all heard the message that texting and driving don’t mix. It’s common knowledge that the practice is extremely dangerous, but what are the legal ramifications if a Florida driver does choose to text while behind the wheel? You may be surprised to learn that the Sunshine State’s texting ban is considered weak compared to most of the country.

The most glaring difference is how the ban is enforced. Let’s say you’re driving down a city street and you quickly respond to a text from your mother about dinner tonight. After all, you can’t wait to tell her you want steak instead of chicken, right? There’s a police cruiser next to you, and after your press ‘send’ you and the officer lock eyes. Unless another reason exists to pull you off the roadway, that officer may not do so. Another infraction must be visible first.

This is a blessing for text-happy drivers – but it’s also a curse that can make them more complacent and lead to safety concerns. According to the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles, a car traveling 40 miles per hour will travel 290 feet in a mere five seconds. Stare at the phone for that amount of time, and you will lose all perspective of what is happening on the road. Should a child or animal run across the street, it’s likely you will not brake in time to avoid them – and loss of life is never worth a text.

Phone records aren’t usually examined unless a serious accident occurs. However, if you are caught speeding in a school zone and the officer also witnesses you tapping away at the phone, two points will be added to those incurred by the primary offense. Be involved in a crash caused by texting, and expect six extra points on that license. As you can imagine, adding texting to an existing offense can quickly lead to the loss of a license. While the first offense leads to just a warning, if you are caught again the points could be even higher.

Whether Florida will crack down further on texting remains to be seen. There is definitely some uproar in the legislature regarding the relative ease of penalties levied to those texting and driving in Florida. Proponents of a tougher ban argue that the mere act of texting while behind the wheel should be cause for enforcement. Indeed, most other states agree and have passed tougher laws.

What will it take to keep text-happy fingers away from phones while in transit? Consider the ultimate cost when you are tempted to answer that message: loss of life. It could be yours or another person’s life that hangs in the balance – all because you absolutely could not wait to press ‘send.’

For answers to questions about texting and driving and for legal advice, contact the Coleman Law Group at 727-214-0400. Their attorneys offer a free consultation and will explain your legal options.

“We want Prenup!” Don’t Wait – Until It’s Too Late!

Conflicted husband and wife during divorce consultation with lawyer

The topic of Florida prenuptial agreements naturally gets tossed around our Tampa law office often – after all, love is always in the air, and as everyone knows, love can make you blind. Kanye and Jamie Foxx have a whole song about the dangers of these rose-colored glasses. Their iconic prenup anthem Gold Digger is basically a family law cautionary tale to the max.

Our legal advice to couples who come to us for marriage preparation is much tamer than Kanye’s take on the matter. We’re not suggesting you’ve got a gold digger situation. Still, here are a few instances that inspire our clients to enter the office and yell, We want prenup! We want prenup! (Ok, there is never any yelling of this. We had to get some lyrics in this post somewhere).

When should you have a Tampa lawyer draw up a Florida prenuptial agreement for you and your intended? 

In short – the earlier it’s planned before your marriage, the better. Consider these instances:

You have read the statistics and are a realist. ‘Happily ever afters’ are possible, of course. Our lawyers happen to believe this wholeheartedly on a personal level. However, the Florida divorce rate is high. By both parties understanding what is at stake if divorce does happen, the details will be laid out for the least painful dissolution of your Florida marriage if you have a prenuptial agreement.

You don’t want any surprises, money-wise. Kanye raps about the ‘you’re not the father’ scenario, where it’s revealed after 18 years that a child is not biologically the offspring of the person who financially supported him. Your reasons for a Florida prenuptial agreement need be much less dramatic. If one or both parties bring children to the union, it is to their benefit that you agree upon ‘what if’ scenarios ahead of time.

Consider this scenario: Junior is about to go away to college when his parents file for a Florida divorce. All of a sudden, that Ivy League education his stepdad promised to fund seems like a sub-par investment. The future graduate is left to scramble for loans to fulfill his educational aspirations because there was no prenuptial agreement signed. Concerned about protecting an inheritance? -Opt for the prenup.

There are other instances where a prenuptial agreement is advisable, of course, and none of them are mentioned in the rap song (though we believe they should be because that would be fabulous and educational). If you and your partner are interested in learning whether a prenuptial agreement is right for your unique situation, contact our compassionate Florida lawyers at the Coleman Law Group who can explain the benefits of the document at www.TheColemanLawGroup.com or (727) 214-0400.

Trust us, you’ll want to work with a caring professional who at no time in the planning process will stop, point his/her finger at one of you, and yell, “Gold Digger!” Most Florida prenups aren’t about people marrying for reasons other than love. Just as with most things in life, it’s just comforting to know what the future will hold if a certain outcome is to occur. Now go tell that to Kanye.

The Irma Aftermath Checklist

Irma Aftermath

 
When the last squall quieted and the final advisory ceased, Hurricane Irma left a mess in her wake – along with thousands of Floridians wondering who is liable for the cleanup. The storm is past; the damage is done. The next steps a homeowner takes can mean the difference between a speedy recovery and a painful learning experience. Find answers to common post-storm questions below. Continue reading

What to do if I get in a Car Accident?

 
 
If you have been injured in a car accident, there are two urgent things you need to do: call 911 and get medical treatment.

A car accident is a traumatic and life changing event.  Whether you are seriously injured or only have damage to your vehicle, the events that will follow the accident will be difficult, expensive, and frustrating. Continue reading