About Steve Leitman

Steve Leitman has been a member since May 2nd 2009, and has created 29 posts from scratch.

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This Author's Website is http://www.904divorce.com/

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How we handle divorce cases

Every lawyer has their own style and method of the idea way of handling a divorce case.

New clients schedule a consultation by calling (904) DIVORCE (348-6723).

A consultation is held thereafter and the facts of the case are discussed. Various options for settlement are discussed and a game plan on how to move forward is discussed. There is never any pressure to do so, but client will have the option of retaining our office to get the case started.

Documents are gathered and a Financial Affidavit is completed by the client. Thereafter, a game plan and goals are set to be achieved.

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Parenting Coordination

The Ins and Outs of Parenting Coordination

For separated, divorcing, or divorced parents in Florida, it is normal to experience conflict when deciding matters concerning their children. In the past, most of these matters had to be discussed and settled by a judge in order to make sure that both parties complied. This setting would, however, cause some difficulties for one party or the other because of the limits of the courtroom and the amount of time and effort it takes to deal with attorneys, judges, and other judicial procedures. Moreover, it would exert a detrimental influence on the children of the disputing parties because of their exposure to disagreements concerning their parents.

Some parents, as well as the law, recognizing the effort it takes to stick to the often strict stipulations set by the courtroom and the damage it can instill in the children of the parties, are now turning to alternative ways of resolving conflict in family life and figuring out how to best maximize the time each parent spends with the children. One of the alternative ways to avoid the courtroom (or at least keep courtroom time to a minimum) is parenting coordination.

Basic Things to Know About Florida Parenting Coordination in Jacksonville

Parenting coordination is a relatively new alternative process in the US. It was passed into law by some states (in various forms) in an effort to decrease the workload of courts when it comes to cases surrounding family and childcare, as well as to offer highly conflicting parents with a way to resolve issues without having to spend time and money in court.

As stated by Florida state law, parenting coordination is a “child-focused alternative dispute resolution process.” In short, it is a way for two disputing parties to create a parenting plan with the aid of a parenting coordinator, a person who serves as the intermediary and adviser in issues such as education, activities, and the extent of involvement with the child.

The parenting plan agreed upon through arrangements with the parenting coordinator is expected to be followed by the parties involved. It may include anything from which activities a party is allowed to participate in with the children to how much time the party can spend with the children.

What is the Role of a Florida Parenting Coordinator?

Since parenting coordination takes place outside of the courtroom, parenting coordinators (PCs for short) serve as a link to and hopefully a substitute for court. Though they do not have the power to change any legal status concerning custody of a child, PCs have enough power to be a very influential part of the coordination process. Some of those powers include the ability:

  • To work out when, where, and for how long non-custodial parents can spend time with their child;
  • To limit the conversational topics between parent and child;
  • To make decisions or recommendations based on any kind of complaint submitted by either party;
  • To report to Child Protective Services any suspicions of possible child abuse, and;
  • To file a motion with the court should either parent refuse to comply with his or her recommendations. In this case, the court will have the final say about the issue in question.

Though it may seem that PCs are given too much power to resolve conflicts, there are safeguards in place in Florida law that keeps them from abusing power. Parenting coordinators can become disqualified in certain situations.

Background of Parenting Coordinator

A Florida parenting coordinator’s background is either medical or legal. In order for persons to qualify as parenting coordinators, they must either be mental health professionals, physicians with a similar background, or attorneys “in good standing of The Florida Bar.

When should you Consider Resorting to Florida Parenting Coordination?

Parenting coordination is not meant to solve all types of family law cases. Neither is it appropriate for all types of conflicts that land in court. It was mostly developed to help high-conflict parties to resolve their issues without having to be constantly entrenched in court battles surrounding minute details of issues, such as time-sharing, allowed activities with children, and the length of time spent with them.

As such, you should consider parenting coordination when:

  • Your monthly legal bills get so expensive that they cost more than rent or mortgage;
  • You are spending more and more time with your attorney than with family and friends, or;
  • Your children are showing signs of stress, withdraw or anger;
  • Your children are starting to exhibit trouble in school (disrespectful behavior, failing grades, skipping class, etc.) with older children it could be the use of alcohol and/or drugs).

Parenting Coordination Summary

Though parenting coordination is a relatively new alternative to courtroom dispute settlements, it offers highly conflicting parties the opportunity to work out their problems with much more flexibility. It also helps minimize the stress and damage inflicted on children who have to deal with constantly disagreeing parents. It lowers the risk of these children developing a number of academic, social, or health problems. The larger aim of parenting coordination is to ultimately resolve all conflicts between parents so that they can develop an environment for their children that fosters confidence and a feeling of well-being despite having separated, divorcing, or divorced parents.

Copyright © 2013 Steven A. Leitman
Original posting on 904Divorce.com

Jacksonville Collaborative Divorce

What is a Collaborative Divorce?

Through collaborative divorce, spouses enter into an acceptable agreement through their attorneys without having to go through an adversarial court trial and costly proceedings. This alternative method of divorce allows the parties and their respective lawyers to enter into a participation agreement to employ cooperative techniques and consequently, to resolve the divorce action. The goal is to resolve all issues without any court intervention. As such, the approach is non-adversarial, similar to negotiation proceedings, and without initiating litigation.

The participation of lawyers is significant in collaborative divorce. Here, the lawyer supports, protects, and guides his or her client in every step of the way. The lawyers also have the duty to manage the conflict in order for the parties to achieve settlement.

Agreement between lawyer and client

An agreement is entered into between the lawyer and the client. The agreement normally contains the following provisions:
That the issues will be settled using an interest-based negotiation;
That lawyers will assist the parties in reaching settlement;
That the best interests of children will be the utmost goal in settlement and because of this, the acts of the parties must always promote such a relationship that will not cause emotional damage to their children;
That fair and constructive communication will be used during the process. Furthermore, that the errors of one party should not be used by the other to his or her advantage;
That the parties may hire neutral experts;
That the process and reasons of ending or withdrawing from the process will be provided;
That there will be no unilateral changes to be made as regards the assets, insurance coverage, and other related matters without the consent of the other.

Neutral Experts in Collaborative Divorce

The presence of neutral experts is one of the most significant feature of collaborative divorce. The experts are jointly retained by the parties to present to them matters that require their expertise, such as parenting and appraisal of properties. Because the experts are regarded as neutral, they are more likely not to favor one party over the other. They can therefore help the parties to create fair settlement options.

What are the Advantages of Collaborative Divorce?

In collaborative divorce, clients are able to control how the proceedings will go since the timetable is not set by the judge. Thus, if the parties want to speed up the process, they can simple agree on the schedule of their conferences. This is not true if a court is involved in the case.

Collaborative divorce can also be less expensive since everyone is working together to resolve the case. Depositions and unnecessary court hearings can be avoided.

More importantly, the children do not have to be subjected to psychological issues. They do not have to be dragged in court. The parties, through their agreement, also make it a point to make the negotiation proceedings less emotional for their children.

Once an agreement is reached, the parties will put the agreement into writing and the parties and attorneys will sign. The agreement will then be filed with the Court along with an “uncontested” Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. A brief non-adversarial hearing may be required to finalize the case to obtain a Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage.

What to expect at the uncontested divorce final hearing

Congratulations!  If you’re reading this, then chances are you worked your case out. I wanted to let you know what to expect at the final hearing. You should have received an email detailing the date, time, and place of the final hearing.  If your case is in Duval County, then your final hearing will be held at the Duval County Courthouse 501 West Adams Street, Jacksonville, FL 32202 in one of the hearing rooms located on the seventh floor of the courthouse.

When you walk into the courthouse you will have to go through security. Afterwards walk through the glass doors and the elevators are located on the first floor in the back left hand corner of the building. Take the elevators to the seventh floor and then go to the hearing room which I designated in the email.

Most final hearings in Duval Count take place between 9:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. If you could be at the hearing room at 9:30 a.m., I would appreciate it. Please note, however, if your case is in Division C (see upper right hand corner of Notice of Hearing), then the judge in that division actually specifies an exact time, which probably won’t be at 9:30 a.m.

Finding a parking spot can sometimes be difficult to find in the morning, so please give yourself an extra 10 minute leeway. Also, on some days, I may have more than one hearing, so I may not actually be there waiting for you at 9:30 a.m. Don’t worry, however, as we will have until 10:00 a.m. to handle your case. The hearing itself should not take more than 5 minutes.

Please make sure to bring your Florida driver’s license with you. Your license must have been issued six months prior to the filing of the case.  Please double check the date for me.  If for some reason it was issued within 6 months of the filing or after the filing of the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, then you will need to bring a witness with you who can testify that you have lived in Florida for at least six months prior to the filing. In the alternative, the witness could sign an Affidavit of Residency.

Please note that when we go in to see the judge, there may be other attorneys and other parties (waiting to get their own divorce). Here are the questions I will be asking you…

What is your name?

What is your address?

How long have you been a continuous resident of the State of Florida?

Can you please show the judge your driver’s license?

Who are you married to?

Have you separated with your spouse?

Do you believe your marriage to be irretrievably broken?

Can you briefly state the reasons why?  (Note…you have to explain to the judge why you believe the marriage is broken beyond repair).

Do you believe that any type of marriage counseling could help save your marriage?

Do you want the judge to order any type of marriage counseling?

Do you have any minor children?

If you are the wife in the case, then I will ask you whether you are currently pregnant?

If you are the husband, then I will ask you if your wife is currently pregnant?

Did you and your spouse sign a Marital Settlement Agreement or Consent Final Judgment? (I will show you the Agreement or Judgment and have you identify the signatures).

If you are the wife and you are asking for a name change, then I will also ask you what name you wish to be restored to…and whether you are seeking to change your name for any ulterior motive such as to avoid creditors or criminal prosecution.

That’s usually about it.  Sometimes the judge may ask a question or two.  If that happens, just answer to the best of your ability. I should have you out of the courthouse by 10:15 a.m. depending on how crowded it is.  I look forward to seeing you.  I hope you have a great day.  Thanks.

Copyright ©2012 Steven A. Leitman
Original posting on 904Divorce.com