Stephen A. Pitre and West Florida Collaborative Law, Inc. Announce New Family Law Practice Method

Stephen A. Pitre and West Florida Collaborative Law, Inc. Announce New Family Law Practice Method

Escambia  and  Santa  Rosa County  family  law  attorneys  and  other  family   planning  professionals are excited to announce the formation of a new non-profit, West Florida  Collaborative  Law, Inc. The  organization  is  a consortium  of legal,  mental  health,  financial,  and  other  professionals who help  solve  family   and marital  legal  disputes  via  the  collaborative   family law  method.

Collaborative family law is a process to resolve domestic legal disputes. It was developed in  the 1990’s, and after gaining momentum in other parts of the  country  and  in  south  Florida,  local attorneys have taken note and adopted the method for area cases. Instead of litigation, the parties commit   to the  collaborative   process and  its  mandate  for  a transparent  exchange   of information and a cooperative spirit. Through a series of meetings, with neutral professionals and the parties’ respective  attorneys,  the parties  create settlement agreements,   and the matter  is  filed   in  court  as an uncontested  case.

According to attorney John Susko, president and  board member  of WFCL, “Just  as mediation changed  civil  and  family  litigation  in  the  1980’s and  1990’s, collaborative law  is  revolutionizing the  way attorneys  and  their  clients  think about  problem-solving.  So far,  in  Escambia   and  Santa Rosa counties, we  have  approximately  fifteen  attorneys  trained,  as well  as mental  health  and financial professionals, and  WFCL will  host an introductory  and advanced  training  November  2-  4, 2017. We look  forward  to growing   with  our fellow   Bar members  in  Okaloosa County.”

The Florida Legislature adopted the Florida Collaborative Law Process Act last year, to become effective upon adoption  of rules  regulating the  Florida  Bar.  Those  rules  were  approved  by the Florida Supreme Court last month, and both the rules and the statute become  effective  on July  1, 2017.

Joshua Aaron Jones, secretary of WFCL, believes that  the  alternative  dispute  resolution  method will  spread  to other  practice  area. “After  experiencing  my  first  collaborative   divorce  case, it’s clear  this  approach will  lend  itself  easily  to business  and  probate dispute  resolution. It’s exciting to be part of a new philosophy  that  helps  clients  find  a speedier  conclusion.  The  dockets can’t keep drowning in the current backlog. I just scheduled a four-hour trial that can’t be heard until December  – six  months  to get  a hearing.   Families   and  businesses   want  to move  on with  their lives,  not  wait  around  for the  court’s calendar.”

Stephen Pitre,  a shareholder at Clark  Partington  agrees.  “Since  the  economic  crash  of the  late 2000’s, families   and  businesses   want  greater  cost predictability  for  legal  services,  and  that includes getting to a solution in the most efficient manner possible.  Traditional  civil  procedure  is almost antiquated, at this point.  The  practice  of law  has  to  keep innovating,  to  keep up  with evolving  client   demands  and  expectations.   More of the same  will  only  harm  our profession.”

Led  by John  Susko,  President;  Stephen  Pitre  and  Elise Lovelace, co-vice  presidents;  Joshua Aaron Jones, secretary; and Catherine Bond, treasurer, WFCL strives to educate the public and professional  colleagues about the  collaborative method,  as an alternative   to traditional   litigation or mediation. Board members include Amy Waddell,  Galen  Novotny,  Jon Kagan,  John Hodges, and Mary McDaniel, along with  the officers.  In addition  to monthly  membership  meetings,  the group  provides  speakers to various  civic   and professional  groups,  at no  cost.

About West Florida Collaborative  Law,  Inc.: WFCL is  a not-for-profit,  501(c)(3) organization. It is not an attorney referral service. The  group  is  a consortium  of legal,  mental health, financial, and other family planning professionals who collaborate to solve family  and  marital disputes, without traditional litigation. For more information: www.westfloridacollaborativelaw.com