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New Family Law Policy

Only Accepting Uncontested Family Law Cases and Agree to the Collaborative Process

After 40 years of representing clients in family law litigation, I have come to the realization that it is not in the client’s best interest, or their children, to litigate family law cases before a judge. For quite some time, I have endeavored to fairly settle my family law cases in mediation or between counsel. Unfortunately, that is not always possible.

Therefore, beginning now, I will only accept family law cases that are uncontested or where the parties agree to the collaborative process.

An uncontested divorce is one in which the parties have a verbal agreement – and they simply need help getting it on paper and navigating the legal system. In such a case, my job would be to turn the verbal agreement into a Marital Settlement Agreement along with all the other necessary papers to accomplish the divorce. This would include preparing a Parenting Plan if there are minor children. I charge a very reasonable flat fee to do this task. Of course, I can provide guidance as to what is fair and reasonable.

The collaborative process is different. This process is used when the parties do not have an agreement but do agree to sign a Collaborative Participation Agreement. This agreement requires the parties to cooperate fully with two neutral experts. One expert would help draft a parenting plan if needed. This expert is usually a psychologist or licensed mental health counselor who is wellversed in drafting a fair and reasonable parenting plan that is in the best interest of the child(ren). This expert would be familiar with section 61.13 of the Florida Statutes, which deals with time-sharing.

The second expert would be a forensic accountant who would gather all the financial data from the parties and create an equitable distribution worksheet. This expert would be familiar with section 61.075 of the Florida Statutes.

In essence, the collaborative process provides the parties with a method to prepare a parenting plan using a neutral expert rather than a judge who only hears the parties say bad things about each other. The collaborative process also allows for a fair division of all assets and debts because a neutral accountant can prepare an accurate equitable distribution worksheet. In my experience, the collaborative process is much more effective and fair. I cannot say enough about this process.

I want to conclude by thanking all my family law clients over the last 40 years. I do appreciate your confidence in my services. Now, I hope my clients will even appreciate me even more knowing the two methods I offer will result in a more efficient and fair result for all parties.

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Tampa Estate Planning Attorney

Paul Riffel Law is located in Tampa FL and serves clients in and around Brandon, Tampa, Valrico, Odessa, Thonotosassa, Gibsonton, Sydney, Dover, Land O Lakes, Oldsmar, Apollo Beach, Lithia, Safety Harbor, Trilby, Plant City, Durant, Holiday, Hillsborough County and Pasco County.

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