“Friendly Divorce” Without Lawyers
The Affordable, Amicable Alternative
Our “Friendly Divorce” mediation option involves an affordable, non-adversarial, divorce without lawyers process that leads to the filing of an uncontested divorce. Throughout the process, our FL Supreme Court Certified Family Mediators provide the guidance and support you need to make your own decisions, reach mutual agreement, remain on friendly terms, avoid expensive legal fees, and escape the trap of protracted litigation.
In our informal, amicable, mediation workshop environment, your Amity mediators act as neutral third parties to facilitate the confidential and cooperative, decision-making conversations that will help you resolve issues, build your mediated settlement agreement, complete the appropriate paperwork, and file the necessary documents for an uncontested divorce.
We navigate the process for you and help you reach agreement on your marital and family issues so that you can start building a stable future, rather than be stuck for months rehashing the past.
Four Benefits of a Friendly Divorce
- Less expensive, so you have more money to reboot your lives. An uncontested, Friendly Divorce conducted through Amity Mediation Workshop allows you to preserve family resources because is much more affordable than a divorce involving two sets of attorney fees and an ongoing legal battle. The entire Friendly Divorce process costs less than the retainer requested from most area attorneys.
- Quicker. The Friendly Divorce process at Amity allows for ample time to gather information and make good decisions but our mediated divorce process takes much less time than an attorney-driven process so you can begin to move on with your life more quickly. Most couples who use our Friendly Divorce process, resolve all their issues and are ready to file for an uncontested divorce in about one month.
- No worries, simplified document preparation. Our Friendly Divorce service also includes document preparation and completion of all required Family Law Forms. This type of one-stop-shop helps simplify and de-stress the divorce process for you.
- Less hurtful. Allows you to remain on friendly terms and feel proud about how you handled your divorce. At Amity, our guiding philosophy of civility and a friendly approach to facilitating conversations permeates our mediation work. We embrace an optimism about what people can do with and for each other if they are simply willing to focus on finding solutions that are good for them AND for the others involved in their issues, especially children. And we help divorcing couples develop a tool kit that allow them to transition amicably into their new, separate but-still-connected lives, with pride in knowing that they ended their marriage respectfully.
How does the Friendly Divorce Process Work?
You begin as Pre-suit, Pro se. In the legal environment, our Friendly Divorce is called a pre-suit, pro se divorce. Pre-suit means that you mutually agree to divorce and work out a mediated marital settlement agreement that you will file together, rather than one of you file a Petition for Dissolution against the other to initiate the divorce process. Pro se means that you chose the friendly divorce-without-lawyers approach, rather than move through an adversarial process driven by your respective attorneys.
Step one – Free Consultation, Engagement of Services, and Fees: If you think a pre-suit, pro se Friendly Divorce without lawyers could be right for you, we invite you to contact us via telephone or email for a free consultation. Once you generally agree to adopt our Friendly Divorce process, we will send you a formal Letter of Engagement that provides a blueprint for the process, explains our fees, and defines what you can expect from us. Then, we will schedule our initial one-hour planning session. You’ll pay one-half of your Friendly Divorce fee at this first meeting. Our fees vary depending on the complexity of your circumstances, but range between $2,000 and $3,500. Fees are divided equally between you and your spouse, unless you agree otherwise. You can pay by cash, check, or debit/credit card.
Step two – Gathering information: We begin this step by gathering financial information. The State of Florida requires all divorcing couples to make financial disclosures to each other in a Financial Affidavit. We will provide you with the forms and instructions you need to complete your Financial Affidavits and appropriately disclose your financial information using the correct format required by the Court. As you work on compiling information about your income, assets, and liabilities, we will talk with you both as a couple and individually to gather information about other matters of consideration in your divorce, such as co-parenting, child support, spousal support, and the equitable distribution of your assets and liabilities.
Step three – Decision-Making: After you return your completed Financial Affidavits to us, we will schedule two weekly, 2-to-3 hour mediation sessions, which can be held over Zoom video conference or in-person at our Amity Mediation Workshop office. During these confidential, mediated conversations your mediator facilitates the discussions and empowers you to reach mutual agreement on all of your current issues.
- Parenting Issues: If you are a divorcing couple with minor children, timesharing and co-parenting decisions are of primary importance. So, the first step in the mediation process for you is to complete your Parenting Plan and Timesharing Agreement.
- Equitable Distribution: The State of Florida expects divorcing couples to distribute their marital net worth equally between the two of them. Using information from your Financial Affidavit, we list all your assets and liabilities and help you determine the most appropriate allocation of those assets and liabilities for your unique situation and goals, ensuring that the result is a 50/50 split.
- Alimony: Alimony is often called Spousal Support, and in Florida, it is appropriate for some marriages and not others. But, there is no set formula for calculating Spousal Support. We will discuss variables like the length of your marriage, as well as each spouse’s financial need, ability to pay, role in the marriage, work outside the home, and level of education, among other things. This combination of facts informs the discussion of whether Spousal Support is appropriate in your unique situation. We hold this discussion after your decisions about the equitable distribution of your assets and liabilities because the amount of “need” can be impacted by the net value of the assets each spouse receives in the 50/50 split.
- Child Support: In Florida, Child Support calculations are formulaic and based primarily on the parents’ combined income and the number of overnights the children spend with each parent. To calculate Child Support, we will use the Timesharing decisions you made when finalizing your Parenting Plan and the income information you provided in your Financial Affidavits, with all allowable deductions (e.g., required retirement contributions) and credits (e.g., payment for the children’s health insurance or daycare). Spousal support (paid and received) also impacts parental income for Child Support calculations.
- Everything Else: Each marriage and family is unique. You may have an adult child that needs ongoing support. You may want to return to using your pre-marriage name, include agreements about life insurance beneficiaries, share a pet, or set up a joint college fund for your children. As we close out your mediation sessions, we will capture all remaining issues so that your Mediated Marital Settlement Agreement “settles all matters between you”.
Step Four – Document Preparation: After you have reached an agreement on the issues in your divorce, your mediator prepares your Marital Settlement Agreement, Equitable Distribution Spreadsheet, and, if needed, your Parenting Plan, and Child Support Guidelines Worksheet. Our in-house Notary will also complete the Family Law Forms essential for your case. Depending on the nature and number of issues in your divorce (children, assets, liabilities) there are anywhere from 16-22 different forms required by the Florida Courts for an uncontested divorce. We are familiar with these forms and use the information you provide to adeptly prepare your documents in compliance with the Court’s requirements. We then deliver your packet of forms to the Clerk of the Court and track the process until your Judge signs the final order for dissolution of your marriage. This allows you to waive your personal appearance in court and settle your case without a final hearing.
A Friendly Divorce (without lawyers) Could Be Right for You if…
- You are ready to divorce but want to do so with as little additional stress and heartache, as possible.
- You want to remain friendly with your spouse, especially if you will continue being Parenting Partner, will have grandchildren together, have mutual friends, or just want to honor each other and your time together by parting respectfully.
- You would rather reserve family resources so that you and your spouse have the money you need to start over and build a stable future for yourselves and your children.
- You would rather move forward deliberately and begin building a happy, stable future rather than be stuck in limbo for a year or more rehashing the past.
If you want to learn more about how our Friendly Divorce approach compares to other divorce options click here.
If you think a Friendly Divorce without lawyers would work for you, contact us for a consultation.
We’ll help you work it out.