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.

“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.

Preventing Another House of Horrors: Reporting abuse, neglect and exploitation

Family law horror stories continue to shock us. Twelve children are found handcuffed, prisoners of their parents. ‘Child support’ takes on the opposite meaning in shocking cases as parents deny their offspring basic necessities like food and clothing. In situations like the above, typical family law issues like visitation and spousal support take a backseat to restraining orders and foster care. The general public is left to ask the same sad question regardless of individual circumstance: How could this happen?

 

We at the Coleman Law Group wish we had the answer. What we can offer is suggestions for action. Here’s how to identify whether a child is in an unsafe situation, how to report it, and what to do to help those who are hurt heal.

 

Define the situation. Concerned that your neighbor’s disciplinary method for his toddler doesn’t mesh with your hands-off ‘time out’ policy? Keep in mind that the practice of spanking does not necessarily indicate abuse. Corporal punishment that does not lead to a child’s harm is not punishable. You can disagree with your neighbor’s method of punishment for Junior’s shortcomings. However, it is not against the law.

 

Abuse is present if a child is hurt or threatened with hurt that affects their physical and emotional wellbeing. Withdrawing food and other basic necessities also constitutes abuse and neglect. Neglect raises another red flag and needs to be identified and shared with authorities. Do you believe a child is not receiving essential items like medicine? Are they left alone without supervision?

 

If you suspect abuse or neglect, report it. You can share your concern online at Florida Department of Children and Families MyFLFamilies.com. You can also call the Florida Abuse Hotline at 800-962-2873. Be prepared to share as much information as you can, including ages of those involved, what you have witnessed, etc. A list of helpful items to know is found at http://www.myflfamilies.com/service-programs/abuse-hotline/what-we-need-know. Reporting via fax is an option as well.

If you don’t have all the information requested by the Florida Department of Children and Families, call the number anyway. It’s better to err on the side of caution and report the incident. Also, if you believe imminent danger is possible, call the number and forego the online form. Your personal information will be kept confidential – and you may save someone’s life. Please note that the information shared above is also pertinent for other neglect or abuse situations, such as abuse or neglect of the elderly.

We’ll never know why some people choose to neglect, abuse or exploit others. However, we can take action when evidence of such action (or inaction) is present. Further help abused and neglected children by becoming a guardian ad litem and advocate for minors in court. Coleman Law Group founder Constance Coleman is herself an attorney ad litem, and she is dedicated to helping children find peace at the end of their legal journey. Learn more at guardianadlitem.org

Problems Men Face In St. Petersburg Family Courts

Florida family laws have changed over recent years in an effort to create a more level playing field for men and women going through a divorce. Women no longer are automatically awarded sole custody of the children, for example, and now St. Petersburg courts presume a mother and father will share parental responsibility unless one of them proves such an arrangement would be detrimental in some significant way.
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What is Divorce Mediation?

Many people think a costly court battle is the only way for divorcing spouses to resolve their differences. However, more and more Florida couples are taking advantage of a process called divorce mediation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mediation), which offers a less costly, less contentious and quicker alternative to the traditional adversarial, or “Kramer v. Kramer,” approach.
The Coleman Law Group, with offices in St. Petersburg, Tampa, and Land O’ Lakes, has experienced professionals dedicated to providing out-of-court solutions to couples who want to avoid lengthy and expensive trial proceedings.
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Divorce with children can get messy

No one wants to be at the center of a scandal like Jill Kelley, that’s a fact.  No one wants to be at the center of a bitter custody battle like her sister, Natalie Khawam because she lost the fight for her child.

If you didn’t read it in the paper, Jill Kelley is at the center of a scandal involving ex-CIA director David Petraus, and Natalie was also involved because Petraus wrote letters to a judge on her behalf. Continue reading

Who Gets The Debt In A Divorce?

When we’re talking divorce, most people think who gets the money?  But there is another important question that needs to be asked, which is who gets the debt?
With a divorce, debt is divided up just like money.  The more debt, the more it’s divided up.  Does your wife have high credit card balances?  How much does your husband owe on the car?  These are things that are going to come up in any divorce and these are things that will probably cause a fight.
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Topics: Family Law, Divorce, Bankruptcy, and Real Estate Law.

If you would like an appointment with one of our experienced professionals, please call one of our Florida offices.

In St. Petersburg: 727-214-0400

In Tampa: 813-749-9981

In Land O’ Lakes: 863-877-0007

You also can visit our website at colemanlawgroup.com/