COURT ALTERNATIVES

Litigation is not the only way to resolve a case.  Alternative Dispute Resolution offers different non-adversarial options for resolving your case without going to court.  At The Loris Law Group, we strongly believe that resolving your case without the need for litigation is far superior to letting a judge make important decisions that will affect you, your family, and your future. 

We offer several methods of alternative dispute resolution at The Loris Law Group, including uncontested divorce, mediation, and the collaborative process.  Click on the links below to learn more about these options and whether one of them might be right for your case.

Mediation


Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution method that assists litigants in resolving their legal issues without the necessity of adversarial court proceedings. A neutral third party who is certified by the Supreme Court of Florida will assist the parties in reaching an agreement on the issues in their case.

Mediation is almost always court-ordered in divorce and other family law matters. Therefore, choosing mediation prior to starting a court action can save money, time, and the stress of litigation. Mediation can be accomplished with or without attorneys present for the parties. All that is necessary is the agreement of both parties to attend mediation and the selection of a Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Law Mediator. The Loris Law Group provides mediation services for all family court matters, including divorce, paternity, child support, alimony, property issues, contempt and enforcement, and modifications.

At the Loris Law Group, mediation services are offered by Attorney Tiffany Loris, a Certified Mediator who is also an experienced Family Law Trial Attorney. Therefore, mediation will offer the parties the benefit of a neutral legal professional, well-versed in Florida family law, who can act as a facilitator to encourage discussion and joint problem solving between the parties. Although a Mediator is not permitted to give legal advice during a mediation, a mediator who is also a family law attorney may offer advantages to your case. For example, an Attorney/Mediator will be experienced in drafting legal documents, which will be beneficial as the Mediator prepares the Mediation Agreement so that the details are adequately addressed. The Mediator will also assist the parties in sorting out the issues and exploring creative alternatives for settlement.

Mediation may result in a full agreement on all issues, a partial agreement on some of the issues, or an impasse. Even a partial agreement can save time, money, and stress, because the court will have fewer issues to deal with and the parties will have resolved the uncertainty of court as to the issues that were resolved. Attorney Loris strives to reach a full or partial agreement in all her mediations and is committed to have as few mediations result in an impasse as possible.

Mediation offers a safe and confidential opportunity to explore settlement options in your case. Pursuant to the Florida Mediation Rules, all communications that occur during the mediation must remain confidential and generally cannot be used against either party if litigation later becomes necessary. The mediation process also offers the opportunity to resolve your case at a lower cost, in less time, and with less emotional distress for the parties and the family.

The Loris Law Group has a centrally located mediation facility and offers two conference rooms for convenience and confidentiality. If you believe mediation could be right for your case, call The Loris Law Group to inquire about our fees and to schedule a mediation session. We can contact the other party for you to inquire about their willingness to participate in the mediation process.




Collaborative Family Practice


Collaborative family practice is a process that may enable divorce and other family legal disputes to be resolved in a non-adversarial manner, utilizing attorneys, mental health and financial professionals. The process requires both parties to agree to use the process and to have an attorney who is trained in the collaborative process. The attorneys and other professionals, such as a financial professional and a divorce counsellor, will focus on settlement options rather than preparing your case for trial. The result is a more cost effective, streamlined process that may resolve your legal dispute faster and with less emotional turmoil to you and your family.
Collaborative practice operates in an environment that is grounded in good faith, cooperation, integrity, honesty, and professional ethics. This process can help avoid the hostility and pitfalls inherent in the adversarial litigation system and allows parties to be integral participants in fashioning a resolution that best suits their families’ circumstances.

How does Collaborative Law work?
The parties and their attorneys enter into a Participation Agreement wherein they agree that they will work together to achieve a satisfactory settlement in a cooperative manner. The participants agree not to go to court and to voluntarily disclose all relevant information. Settlement is accomplished through conferences between all the parties, informal discussions, mediations and other non-litigation alternatives. Collaborative attorneys expend their time and effort toward settling your case instead of preparing for and conducting a trial. The result is a more cost-effective, streamlined process that resolves your legal dispute faster and with less emotional turmoil to you and your family.

What happens if settlement cannot be reached?
If a settlement cannot be achieved or if one of the parties becomes adversarial or insists that the lawyer act in any manner inconsistent with the terms of the Participation Agreement or the principles of Collaborative Law, BOTH LAWYERS AS WELL AS ANY OTHER PROFESSIONALS INVOLVED MUST WITHDRAW FROM THE CASE. The lawyers will assist the parties to find new counsel to pursue their cases in court and will work to make a smooth transition for their clients.

What is the difference between Collaborative Practice and Mediation?
In mediation, an impartial third party (the mediator) facilitates the negotiations of the disputing parties and tries to help them settle their case. However, the mediator cannot give either party legal advice, and cannot be an advocate for either side. If there are lawyers for the parties, they may or may not be present at the mediation sessions, but if they are not present, the parties can consult their counsel between mediation sessions. Once an agreement is reached, a draft of the settlement terms is usually prepared by the mediator for review and editing by the parties and counsel. Collaborative Law, on the other hand, is designed to allow clients to have their attorneys with them during the negotiation process, maintaining the same commitment to settlement as the sole agenda. It is the job of the attorneys, who have received training similar to the training that mediators receive in interest-based negotiation, to work with their own clients and one another to ensure that the process stays balanced, positive and productive. Once an agreement is reached, it is drafted by the attorneys and reviewed and edited by both the attorneys and the parties, until both parties are satisfied with the document. Both Collaborative Practice and mediation rely on the voluntary and free exchange of information and a commitment to resolutions that respect the parties' shared goals. If mediation does not result in a settlement, the parties may choose to use their counsel in litigation, if this is consistent with the scope of representation upon which the client and attorney have agreed. In Collaborative Practice, the attorneys and parties sign an agreement, which aligns everyone's interests in the direction of resolution, and specifically provides that the collaborative attorneys and any other professional team members will be disqualified from participating in litigation if the collaborative process is terminated without an agreement being reached. At The Loris Law Group, we can provide professional advice to help you decide whether mediation or Collaborative Practice is the best process for your case.

What is the difference between Collaborative Practice and conventional divorce?
In a conventional divorce, one party sues the other for divorce and sets in motion a series of legal steps. These eventually result in a settlement achieved with the involvement of the court. Unfortunately, couples going through a conventional divorce can come to view each other and all those involved as adversaries. The ensuing conflicts can take a tremendous toll on the emotions of all the participants, including the children. In a collaborative case, it is, by definition, a non-adversarial approach to divorce. The parties, and their attorneys, pledge in writing NOT to go to court. The mental health and financial professionals are not allowed to go to court. They all negotiate in good faith to achieve a mutually agreed upon settlement outside of court. The cooperative nature of a collaborative case can greatly ease the emotional strain caused by the ending of a marriage, and can help protect the well-being of the children.

What does Collaborative Practice do to minimize the hostility often present in divorce?
The Collaborative Practice is guided by a very important principle: RESPECT. By setting a respectful tone, Collaborative Practice encourages the divorcing couple to demonstrate compassion, understanding and cooperation. In addition, collaborative professionals are trained in non-confrontational negotiation to help keep discussions productive. The goal of the collaborative process is to build a settlement on areas of agreement, not to perpetuate disagreement.

How does the Collaborative Process actually work?
Once a couple decides to divorce, they each must hire attorneys who are trained in Collaborative Process. All of the parties agree IN WRITING NOT to go to court. Additional team members, such as mental health and financial professionals, are also part of the process. Open communication and mutual problem-solving by all the parties involved leads to a final divorce agreement.

Is the Collaborative Process a faster way to divorce?
By it's very nature, the Collaborative Process can be a more direct and efficient form of divorce. From the very beginning, it focuses on problem-solving, not blaming or endlessly airing of grievances. Full disclosure and open communication help to ensure that all the issues are discussed in a timely manner. Finally, because settlement is reached out of court, there is no waiting for hearings and trials that is typical of a conventional divorce.

How does this process focus on the future?
Ending a marriage is not just an ending, but also a beginning. The Collaborative Process assists each partner anticipate his or her needs in moving forward. Especially when there are children involved, their future is the number one priority. Since it is a more respectful, dignified process, the Collaborative Process helps families make a smoother transition to the next stage of their lives.

Once a settlement is reached, how will it be enforced if one party violates its provisions?
Once a settlement is reached, the written settlement agreement is forwarded to a judge to approve the agreement and incorporate the agreement into a binding court order. This court order will be a permanent part of your court file and will be enforceable by the judge in the same way that any other court order would be.

Ask us if Collaborative Family Practice could work for you.




Uncontested Divorce


An uncontested divorce is the simplest, fastest, and least expensive way to accomplish a divorce. The parties to an uncontested divorce agree on ALL of the issues in the divorce, meaning that they have settled all issues such as child custody, assets, debts, support, etc. A mutual agreement to simply get a divorce does not constitute an uncontested divorce.

If you and your spouse agree on ALL the issues of your divorce, our attorneys will prepare the complete agreement for you, along with all other necessary paperwork. We will attend the final hearing with you to obtain the Final Judgement of Divorce if you are the petitioner in the divorce action.

Keep in mind that an attorney cannot represent both parties in a divorce, even if the divorce is uncontested. The attorney cannot meet with both parties and cannot give legal advice to both parties. Therefore, if you choose to pursue an uncontested divorce, the party who will be the petitioner should contact The Loris Law Group to seek representation. Once an agreement is drafted, the other spouse will have an opportunity to have it reviewed by his or her own attorney, if he or she chooses to do so. However, the other spouse is not required to have an attorney or to seek legal advice if they choose not to.

An uncontested divorce is the most cost effective and least stressful way of obtaining a divorce, but it is not for everyone. If you and your spouse have even one issue that you cannot agree on, you cannot obtain an uncontested divorce.

Contact us to find out if you meet the requirements for an uncontested divorce.