Governor Scott Signs Collaborative Process Act

TALLAHASSEE – The Collaborative Process Act has passed the Florida Legislature and became law after receiving Governor Rick Scott’s signature. The Act creates a uniform system of practice for the Collaborative Law Process as it relates to family law matters. It encourages the peaceful resolution of disputes and the early settlement of potential litigation through voluntary settlement procedures.

The Collaborative Process is an alternative to litigation. It utilizes trained legal, financial, and mental health professionals to guide the couple through the difficulties of divorce. According to recent studies, 84% of Collaborative cases are resolved successfully, 60% within six months, and half of the cases were completed for less than $40,000 in fees. It is believed that the Collaborative Process dramatically reduces the caseloads of our overburdened court system, saving taxpayer dollars.

After the Governor signs the Act, it becomes law thirty days after the Florida Supreme Court adopts rules of procedure and professional responsibility for attorneys.

The attorneys of Allen Dell pride themselves on staying abreast of changes in laws affecting our clients. Our family law team, which includes experienced marital and family law trial lawyers, encourages the use of alternative dispute resolutions methods and are trained in both mediation and collaborative divorce to reduce costs and emotional stress in resolving divorce cases.

Alimony reform ending permanent alimony and creating a premise of 50/50 timesharing not yet in hands of Governor

TALLAHASSEE – Senate Bill 668 relating to alimony and “50/50” timesharing has not yet actually been presented to the Governor. However, it is anticipated it will occur in short order. Once the Governor receives the bill, he will have 15 days to act on the bill and decide whether to veto the bill or allow it to become law. The Family Law Section of the Florida Bar continues to provide letters supporting a veto of the bill. It is critical that if you want to be heard in opposition that you call and email the Governor urging him to oppose SB 668 and veto the bill and to inform others you know to do likewise.

Governor Scott’s contact information is as follows:

Telephone: 850-488-7146

The attorneys of Allen Dell pride themselves on staying abreast of changes in laws affecting our clients. Divorce laws affect all couples whether the partners are of the same-sex or opposite sexes. This bill, creating a premise for equal timesharing, affects couples with children, whether they are married or not. Keep calm and call us.

Philip S. Wartenberg Joins The Firm as a Shareholder

It is with great pleasure that Allen Dell announces Philip S. Wartenberg has joined the firm as a shareholder. Wartenberg is a board certified marital and family lawyer who has practiced exclusively in the area of marital and family law throughout his legal career since 1994. Wartenberg has been selected for inclusion in Florida Super Lawyers since 2010 and was honored in 2008 as the recipient of the Family Law Inn of Tampa’s Ted S. Millison Professionalism Award. Prior to joining Allen Dell, Wartenberg was owner and sole shareholder of Wartenberg Law Group, P.A., Tampa.

Alimony reform ending permanent alimony now in hands of Governor

TALLAHASSEE – Alimony reform is now in the hands of Florida Governor Rick Scott. If passed, the changes would include: ending permanent alimony; a formula for calculating amount and duration; and requiring judges to start with the “premise” that children should spend an “approximately equal” amount of time with each parent. Here are the details:

The current bill on Governor Rick Scott’s desk is one that would end permanent alimony in Florida.

  • It provides a mathematical formula to determine a range for the amount and duration of alimony.
  • It would determine an amount and duration of alimony payments.
  • If passed, the new bill will not apply retroactively. It applies to all initial determinations of alimony and modifications pending as of October 1, 2016, and those brought after.
  • The new bill would mandate judges to use alimony guidelines to follow.
  • Formula for amount:
    • Low End: 0.015 times the number of years married, multiplied by the difference in gross income of the divorcing couple.
    • High End:that multiplier number rises to 0.020; however the max multiple is 20 years.
  • In marriages of 20 years or more, for purposes of calculating the presumptive alimony amount range, 20 years of marriage shall be used.
  • If a judge deviates away from these guidelines he or she must explain why in writing.
  • Marriage of 2 years of less, there is a presumption no alimony shall be awarded, unless the judge makes written findings that there is a clear and convincing need for alimony, etc.
  • Longer marriages would mean an amount on the higher end or a longer duration of payments.
  • Governor Scott has 15 days to sign or veto this bill from the time it was sent to him.

Over objections from Florida’s Family Law Section, the bill would also require judges in setting up time-sharing schedules to start with the “premise” that children should spend an “approximately equal” amount of time with each parent.

Stay tuned here for updates.

Amendments to 50/50 Timesharing Bill

TALLAHASSEE – Yesterday, late amendments were made to pending legislation relating to a 50/50 timesharing bill which passed the Senate Appropriations Committee. The Family Law Section of the Florida Bar continues to oppose SB 668 because it contains a presumption that a 50/50 timesharing schedule is in the best interests of every child. The bill also requires detailed findings of fact in every case absent an agreement of the parents and violates the Section’s standing positions and public policy. We have attached a copy of the bill for your reference – please read it. Despite the Section’s efforts to work with sponsors of this bill and provide compromise language, the Section believes the current proposed language (or similar presumptive language) may nevertheless be approved by the House and thereafter proceed to the Governor in short order.

Voice your opinion to the timesharing portion of SB 668 now.