The Tampa Bay Academy of Collaborative Professionals is a highly selective group of independent attorneys, neutral financials and neutral facilitators who specialize in and commit to collaborative divorce.
All professionals accepted to TBACP are selected based on rigorous training and extensive experience beyond normal professional requirements. For instance, in order to be accepted as a member of TBACP, an attorney must have been practicing primarily in the area of marital and family law for a minimum of 10 years, and most of our attorneys far exceed the requirement.
All professionals, including legal, financial, and mental health experts, must be individually approved, first by the TBACP Board of Directors, and finally by a vote of the general membership. In addition to their individual profession’s requirements, all of our members must undergo specialized training in the collaborative process and the associated negotiation techniques. They must also be members in good standing of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals.
The Attorney works with you to identify goals and map out a strategy to satisfy those goals in a non-adversarial process. Instead of being a hired gun with a take-no-prisoners attitude, the collaborative attorney addresses the needs of both spouses and the children for meaningful and lasting results.
Unlike the aggressive maneuvers and fixed positions in a courtroom, the collaborative attorney commits to resolving the divorce in a peaceful manner. This means that the collaborative attorney will not do many of the things that are common in litigated cases, such as sending emergency court orders with little or no advance notice, or sending threatening letters to the other spouse or that spouse’s attorney.
Instead, the Collaborative Attorney helps:
- Articulate your interests, goals, and concerns
- Educate and counsel you about legal issues
- Brainstorm, evaluate and prioritize options
- Reach agreements that meet needs and interests
- Work with the other attorney and the collaborative team to help design the settlement most appropriate for your family.
The Neutral Financial Expert is a licensed Certified Financial Planner (CFP) or Certified Public Accountant (CPA) who typically has also been certified as a Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA).
Specifically, the neutral financial expert is trained to:
- Gather all relevant financial documents
- Identify and prioritize financial needs, goals, and concerns
- Analyze income, expenses, assets and debt
- Prepare detailed financial reports for all members of the Collaborative team
- Develop creative solutions to complex financial problems
- Prepare projections reflecting each settlement options, including tax impact
- Provide a thorough understanding of your financial situation so you can make fully informed choices
- Assist with how to pay joint expenses, such as for your home, during the divorce
- Calculate spousal and/or child support as necessary
- Render business and pension valuations
- Analyze a separate property claim (ie. inheritance proceeds, retirement accounts and/or real property held prior to marriage)
- Determine misappropriation of marital monies
- Assist with budgeting for two households on income that previously supported one
- Consult additional neutral experts, such as real estate appraisers or vocational specialists, when necessary
Neutral Facilitators are licensed mental health professionals who specialize in issues related to separation, divorce, and remarriage. They will help you work out of the most rational part of your brain, which is not easy when conflict is pushing you toward “fight or flight.” That brings the best you to the negotiating table. They can help:
- Identify and prioritize your concerns and goals
- Ensure that your needs and interests are clearly expressed
- Minimize and resolve conflicts and misunderstandings
- Enable you to make sound decisions amid powerful feelings of anger, grief, fear or guilt
- Solve problems
- Improve co-parenting relationships
- Keep process constructive rather than focusing on past problems
- Consult with additional neutral specialists, such as a parent coordinator, when necessary
- Create the parenting plan and timesharing custody schedule when necessary
Even as another paid professional, the facilitator usually saves you money because you no longer have to treat your attorney as emotional and mental sounding boards. You can talk to your Facilitator instead about challenges and the dynamics with your spouse, typically at a lower rate with a more specialized level of training. The facilitator’s unique skills and training help navigate the minefield of conflict as efficiently as possible, while keeping in mind the best interest of all parties, especially children.