Collaborative Family Law in Tampa, FL

Collaborative Family Law Tampa, FL Couple reviewing documents with lawyer.
Tampa Divorce Lawyer

Whether it’s because you no longer share the same goals or values or it’s simply time to part ways, every married couple going through a divorce has their unique reasons, as a lawyer who practices collaborative family law in Tampa, Florida knows. It is a painful and difficult process, but you do not have to go through it alone. Hiring a divorce lawyer can provide you with much relief, and you gain many benefits that can give you peace of mind. If you are considering alternatives such as collaborative family law instead of the traditional divorce process, a lawyer can give you detailed advice with that as well. Discuss your legal situation and goals by contacting a family law firm such as The McKinney Law Group.

Collaborative Family Law

The McKinney Law Group has accumulated over 10 years of legal practice. Established in Florida, the Tampa community has relied on them to protect their rights and provide individualized legal support for issues such as divorce, postnuptial agreements, alimony, and more. Clients can trust them to be transparent throughout the entire legal process, and they have achieved positive outcomes consistently. When you are going through such a personal case such as divorce, you want to have the best legal representation available. Clients are going through cases that they have a deep emotional investment in, so it is important that they work with a lawyer with a solid understanding of family dynamics and how to navigate them. Contact an attorney to learn more about what assistance they can provide for you.

Understanding Collaborative Family Law 

Collaborative family law is defined as a method couples can use to resolve conflicts. Rather than taking the dispute to court and paying for additional costs, each couple has their own lawyer and attempts to identify issues and propose solutions for them. Together, the couple tries to discuss and negotiate terms in order to settle the divorce. During the collaborative process, the parties sign a legally binding document that includes the terms of their agreement, such as not going to court, not involving their children, and committing to finding an amicable solution. If any of the terms are breached, then the collaborative process dissolves and the dispute must be resolved in another way.

The Role of a Lawyer 

Attempting any sort of legal negotiations without a lawyer is not recommended. Cases may contain a lot of nuanced procedures and details that can be difficult to understand and handle without professional help. If any problems occur, you can depend on a good lawyer to offer solutions. Along with their legal knowledge, a divorce lawyer has an expansive set of tools and resources that they can use to support your claim. They will be there by your side and advocate for your best interests. 

Collaborative Approaches to Child Custody Considerations

A collaborative approach to dealing with child custody challenges may be in your family’s best interests if you and your child’s other parent don’t have any truly fundamental differences in re: how you want your coparenting relationship to function moving forward. Some couples know exactly how they want their child custody arrangements to be constructed and simply need help formalizing these arrangements so that they are legally enforceable. Other couples require some assistance negotiating and/or mediating certain aspects of their arrangements. Our firm can help with either approach. In either scenario, you and your child’s other parent will need to have a parenting plan in place before your child custody challenges can be resolved (legally speaking).

Crafting a Parenting Plan

A parenting plan is a legally enforceable document that sets forth the “ins and outs” of how co-parents will manage their child’s custody situation. Although standard child support matters aren’t generally addressed in parenting plans, other monetary considerations (including who will be responsible for paying for extracurricular activities, who will cover travel expenses between houses, etc.) can be governed by these documents. Other common parenting plan provisions may outline the “calendar” of when a child will be with each parent, how holidays and vacations will be managed, how often (and using what method of communication) will the child be in touch with the parent who isn’t currently residing with them, etc. Additionally, many parents use their parenting plans to outline any other expectations that they need to be legally enforceable – such as approaches to religious education, how the child will remain connected to extended family, etc.

It is important to keep in mind that – should any legal disputes arise during the creation of your parenting plan that need to be resolved by judicial intervention – contentious issues will be decided according to the “best interests of the child” standard. Therefore, when creating a parenting plan in a collaborative fashion, you’ll want to keep your child’s best interests at the forefront of your thought process.

Parenting Plan Modification Challenges

The experienced legal team at The McKinney Law Group also helps families to modify existing child custody and/or parenting plans when the needs and best interests of a child evolve over time. Generally speaking, parenting plan provisions can be modified as often as a family wishes – if all parties involved agree on the changes. However, if your modification situation becomes contentious and requires judicial intervention, the court will likely only agree to modify your existing order if your child’s needs or interests have evolved significantly since the original order was put into place. This standard helps to ensure that co-parents don’t drag each other into court unless doing so is necessary.

Collaborative Approaches to Asset Division

Oftentimes, even when a couple is committed to making a collaborative approach to divorce work, the spouses involved fail to prepare mentally and emotionally for the challenges that “give and take” requires. Trying to compromise with someone as you’re trying to build a life away from them is no small matter. As a result, it is important to have a frank discussion with the legal team at The McKinney Law Group about your goals, needs, priorities, and concerns in anticipation of your property division negotiations and/or mediation sessions. The better we understand what is most important to you and why, the better prepared we will be to help you know when it makes sense to compromise and when it makes sense to stand your ground.

In general, you’ll be expected to divide any property acquired during the marriage in ways that are equitable. Under some circumstances, equitable division assets may take a back seat to whatever approach is most “fair.” Once our team learns about your unique circumstances, we’ll be able to prepare you for what your negotiations will likely look like and what the concepts of “equitable” and “fair” look like in a divorce-related context.

It is important to understand that equitable division of assets doesn’t mean splitting the value of every individual asset down the middle. Instead, it means ensuring that both parties retain a share of their marital assets that is equitable. For example, if you own your home and its market value is $400,000 and the value of your retirement assets, savings, and a secondary property – when added together – equal $400,000, it may make sense for one spouse to keep the house and one to take the bundled alternative assets.

There is no one “right” way to approach asset division in a collaborative way. You and your spouse may decide to sell off the majority of your assets and split the profits. You may decide to retain ownership of most of your assets intact. We will help you to determine an approach to property division that best serves your needs, goals, and priorities with an eye towards building a bright future.

Preparing for a Collaborative Property Division Approach

In anticipation of your asset division process, it can be very helpful to make a comprehensive list of your property – including any assets that are of material value and those of sentimental value. You should list the approximate value of each asset as you take stock, because doing so will help us to informally estimate what a fair divorce settlement may look like for you, uniquely. Don’t forget insurance policies, assets held in trust, retirement assets, and intellectual property. Additionally, you may benefit from making some personal notes concerning which assets you’d like to have, which assets you do not intend to compromise on, and which assets you’d be willing to surrender. Having a clear idea of which assets are truly important to you will help us build a solid strategy in your favor.

Tax Considerations in a Divorce

Even if you have decided to work with an attorney who specializes in collaborative family law in Tampa, FL, there are still things you need to consider as you work through the negotiation process. One very important factor is the tax implications of any assets and property you end up with in the divorce agreement.

Although there may be a variety of subtle impacts divorce can have on taxes, three are particularly common. First, divorce will affect the filing status of both spouses. Second, divorces involving custody disputes will affect the dependency exemptions that filers can claim for raising children. Third, some property transfers during the property division process may have tax implications.

Filing Status

The most direct way that a divorce will affect a person’s taxes is through their filing status. A person’s tax status depends on whether they are filing as married, single, or head of household. These filing statuses affect which tax bracket people end up in and the size of certain exemptions they can claim. Generally speaking, the choice following a divorce is whether to file as a single individual or as a head of household. The head of household status is available to unmarried people who have a dependent to take care of. It is generally treated better than single status for tax purposes, although every person’s tax situation is unique and requires individual analysis.

Dependency Exemptions

Another way that divorce can affect a person’s taxes is through the dependency exemption. These exemptions are tax breaks that people get to claim for raising children. After a divorce, people may no longer be eligible to claim it. The general IRS rule is that the dependency exemption goes to the custodial parent and that in cases of joint custody it goes to the parent who has the child for more of the time, unless there is a multiple support agreement in place. However, the IRS allows parents to decide between themselves who gets to claim the credit as part of the divorce settlement. Consequently, a couple’s divorce decree may end up overriding the IRS rule. In many of the cases where the couple has decided on a collaborative family law approach in Tampa, FL, the couple often decides to alternate years for the child dependency exemption.

Property Transfers

Property transfers as a result of a divorce may also have important tax implications. The general rule is that property transfers “incident to a divorce” are ignored for tax purposes. However, there are some exceptions. For instance, the divorce may involve the transfer of appreciated assets, such as stocks or real estate. While the receiving spouse likely does not have to pay taxes on that transfer from the divorce, the later sale of those assets will likely have important tax implications.

Your Tampa, FL collaborative family law attorney will help you determine what potential impact any property transfers could have on your financial standing prior to any agreements between you and your spouse.

Obtain Legal Assistance From a Top Florida Lawyer

Regardless of how you choose to settle your divorce, a lawyer can help you find the appropriate solutions to your problems. To speak with a lawyer who specializes in collaborative family law in Tampa, FL, and can inform you about your legal options, schedule a consultation with The McKinney Law Group now.

THE MCKINNEY LAW GROUP, 1105 WEST SWANN AVENUE, SUITE 100,