Fort Lauderdale and Broward County Family and Divorce Lawyers
Avoiding Litigation Without Sacrificing Your Interests
(But Vigorous Representation When a Trial is Necessary)
Getting married is the fun and easy part. You visit the courthouse at your convenience to sign some papers and get a license, then find a priest, pastor, rabbi, or notary public to make it legal. Making babies is fun, too — no license required!
Getting divorced is another story. It’s not much fun and not nearly so easy to “undo” a marriage. Property, possessions, and investments are legally tangled. Then there’s the problem of how to “divide” time with the kids. If you and the other spouse cannot reach agreement, a judge will dictate terms of divorce after a contentious and expensive legal battle.
Curtis R. Cowan, a Florida Board-Certified marital and family law attorney and Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator represents men and women of Broward County, and have helped many hundreds of clients reach fair and amicable settlements in more than 30 years of practice. Contact us today at 954-953-2575 to arrange a consultation.
There Has to Be a Better Way. . .
A divorce is a painful and difficult experience. There are various emotional stages of divorce that involve shock, anger, sadness, and eventually moving forward. In helping clients toward resolution, we emphasize cooperation and problem solving and consideration of both the legal and emotional aspects. While we can certainly protect your interests if litigation cannot be avoided, we believe that amicable, out-of-court settlements are possible in most divorces — and best for all involved.We educate clients about the functions and limitations of the legal system, guiding them to realistic expectations and workable goals.
We also understand that divorce issues cannot always be worked out. If the other party refuses to come to the negotiating table, or you feel that you cannot budge on a particular issue, we may have to go to trial. We are experienced trial lawyers who can certainly protect your interests in your asset division, support, or custody issue if litigation is unavoidable.
Preparing for the Process of Divorce
Couples get divorced for many reasons: disagreements over child-rearing, arguments about money, infidelity, addictions, spousal abuse, changing priorities, or unfulfilled needs. I encourage clients to consider consulting with a professional therapist to deal with the emotional aspects of a difficult process. It will help you identify hot-button issues that may present a barrier to resolution, and to emerge from the process ready to move on. I find that it also helps identify goals and enter negotiations with confidence and an even temper. A therapist’s office is an appropriate place to vent feelings of anger, pain, or betrayal — the same sentiments are not welcome (or productive) in court.
Most divorces involve five major legal issues, and our role is to protect your legal interests while seeking agreement. We take the time to explain the process and possible outcomes for your situation in:
Limitations of the Court’s Role
Florida has a “no-fault” divorce system, requiring only “irretrievable breakdown” (or adjudicated incompetence) as grounds for dissolving a marriage. As long as one party wants a divorce, the court has to grant it. The reason for the breakup is not an issue in court, and in most cases with only a very limited exception, the law will not compensate you for the other person’s misconduct. Therefore, the legal system should not be viewed as a tool for revenge. In fact, trying to punish your spouse can seriously backfire in child custody proceedings.
Settlement Versus Litigation
Having a judge decide your case should be the last resort. Under the new trend of “therapeutic jurisprudence,” a divorce lawyer should be a deal maker first and a litigator second. Through compromise and cooperation, a settlement can lead to greater mutual satisfaction and lessened animosity between you and your spouse. In most cases, negotiations toward settlement can be more productive and far less expensive than a trial. Because protracted litigation is expensive and depletes the marital estate, reasonable settlement should be explored at the outset.
If negotiations fail and you must try your case, the court will make rulings that will permanently affect you and your children. The court’s rulings must be made exclusively upon the limited evidence that is presented in court, and nothing else. Because the court is restricted in what it can and cannot do, a settlement can offer a wider range of options. Although settlement is the primary goal, as your attorney, we will be ready and capable of presenting your position at trial if necessary.
Take Advice With a Grain of Salt
Every divorce is different. Your results may be very different from your neighbor’s, friend’s, or relative’s. You cannot rely upon what happened in their cases and assume that your results will be the same. Cases that seem similar may, in fact, be very different and will be treated differently under the law. Additionally, no two judges would likely decide the same case identically. For these reasons, you should look to us as your lawyers for your legal advice and information. Your friends and relatives usually do not have a grasp of the law and your case, and basing your decisions on their advice may hinder you in the long run.
In considering settlement versus a trial, you should consider whether you can afford the substantial attorney’s fees required to fully litigate your case. Usually, a settlement prior to trial reduces the expenses considerably, an important consideration if you come to the divorce with limited resources.
The court can order one party to pay some or all of the other’s attorney’s fees. The court does this to ensure that both parties have equal access to competent counsel. The court does not award fees in every case; the court must first find that one party has the need for attorney’s fees and the other party has the ability to pay. Although temporary attorney’s fees may be awarded while the case is pending, depending on the respective financial resources in the final outcome, the party receiving temporary fees may be required to reimburse the other from the award. Usually, awarding of attorney’s fees is made at the end of a case, only after equitable distribution, alimony and child support are determined. You cannot ever be certain that the court will award fees. For this reason, and because of the great drain of litigation on marital assets, the parties and attorneys should make every effort to resolve a divorce case as economically as possible.
If needed, the court can order you or your spouse to do, or not do, certain things. The court may order a party not to telephone the other, not to come to the other’s place of business, not to interfere in the other’s activities, and the like. We can seek or challenge injunctions on your behalf.
Contact us today, to discuss your pending divorce in Broward County. We strive to be accessible to clients to address your concerns throughout the process. Schedule your reduced-rate initial consultation by calling 954-953-2575.