Collaborative “Divorce” for Unmarried Couples
In decades past, most couples’ relationships followed a similar progression pattern: start dating, get engaged, get married, buy a home, then have children. Today, although many couples continue to follow this pattern, it is not unusual to see unmarried couples purchase homes and have children together. Sometimes, these couples marry later and in other cases, they never marry. For many years, same sex couples could not marry, which left them without many of the legal protections enjoyed by heterosexual couples.
If you are not married, you cannot get divorced. The divorce process provides couples with a set of legal guidelines for determining how their assets will be divided. Some decisions are out of the couple’s hands, such as their timesharing agreement for their children. But because unmarried couples may not go through the formal divorce process to end their relationships, a collaborative process may be the perfect method to resolve the issues involved in concluding your relationship. You can address all of the issues you want addressed but which a Court cannot under the law in Florida at present.
Collaborative divorce is a form of alternative dispute resolution that many couples choose instead of going to court to complete their divorces or to end their relationship as unmarried couples. With collaborative divorce, the partners have a greater degree of control over how their assets are divided. Each partner retains his or her own attorney to complete the process. Rather than having a mediator guide their discussions or a court making determinations, couples who complete collaborative divorces discuss their settlement terms to reach agreements with the assistance of a mental health and a financial neutral. In most cases, this translates to higher levels of satisfaction and better relationships between former partners in the years that follow. Although you are not ending a marriage, it is even more important to work with a lawyer to ensure that your rights are protected while your property is divided.
The Court will Still be Involved in your “Divorce”
If you are a parent, it is also in your best interest to work with a lawyer to navigate your interactions with the Florida Department of Children and Families to develop a timesharing arrangement and a child support agreement. Do not assume that you can simply handle these on your own. Timesharing arrangements are created with the child’s best interest in mind, which generally includes a consistent relationship with each parent. Child support orders ensure that the child’s financial needs are covered.
Work with an Experienced Orlando Divorce Lawyer
Not being married to your partner does not mean that you did not build a life with him or her. If you are considering ending a long-term relationship that involved shared assets and children or if you have already done so, consider working with a divorce lawyer who handles collaborative divorces to amicably dismantle your relationship without losing access to your assets or ruining your relationship with your children. To learn more about your options for collaborative law as an unmarried individual exiting a long-term relationship, speak with one of our experienced divorce lawyers at the Orlando office of Goodblatt · Leo. Contact our firm today to set up your initial consultation with us.