Divorce Litigation Alternatives

Collaborative Divorce A More Conciliatory Approach to Separation

Deciding to end a marriage is often a difficult choice. Unfortunately, this is just the beginning of a series of difficult decisions for many people. Cases can become heated and can take a long time to make their way through the judicial system. Collaborative divorce is a method to avoid a protracted court battle.

Collaborative divorce and other alternatives to the traditional divorce process are available to clients of Sutton Law Firm. Debra J. Sutton at the Sutton Law Firm has over 30 years of experience practicing family law and can walk you through the process. As a qualified collaborative divorce lawyer, Ms. Sutton helps you get results that make sense and is committed to recommending the method best for your needs. We offer consultations from our offices in Bartow, FL, and St. Petersburg, FL, and look forward to working with you.

Collaborative divorce offers a more conciliatory approach to legal separation and divorce. 

What is Collaborative Divorce?

The phrase “collaborative divorce” may sound like a paradox. Most people have a hard time imagining divorcing parties agreeing on anything. However, this approach to divorce or any family law matter is intended to remove the complexity and the hostility that so often surrounds the process. In this setting, both parties agree to work out their differences outside of the courtroom. Parties are assisted by their attorneys and other professionals. The focus is on the good of the family as a whole, rather than on the individual. This approach allows us to consider the needs of everyone, particularly children, and develop solutions that are agreeable to all parties involved.

During the process, you can expect:

  • Identification of each party’s concerns and fears
  • Reports and recommendations about child time sharing and support from child specialists 
  • Recommendations for allocation of family income to meet financial needs of the parties and children
  • Evaluation of assets and debts, to determine a fair and equitable distribution, in many cases with input from an accountant or other forensic expert on the collaborative team
  • Discussion with the other third party about these issues and where needed, with assistance from an appropriate collaborative member, fostering present and future communication

Each party will employer a lawyer. The other professionals retained will depend on the needs of the case. Unlike litigation where each party may hire a CPA, in the collaborative  process, the parties select a mutual financial professional with an immediate cost savings to the family. The use of experts beyond the attorneys is voluntary but the idea in collaboration is, in part, to use varied expertise to do what is best for their family.

Debra Sutton has been Board Certified by the Florida Bar in Appellate Practice since 1997 and Board Certified in Marital and Family Law since 2001.

Why Consider Collaborative Divorce

When done properly, the collaborative process can have many benefits, including: 

  • Shorter timeline
  • Reduced expense
  • Increased sense of security for children as a result of greater focus on the family as a whole
  • More harmonious atmosphere after divorce, separation or the post-judgment modification, which makes it easier for both parties to work together for their sake and that of their children
  • Private information remains confidential rather than becoming part of a court record and accessible to others by online search

We understand this type of divorce and method for resolving family law disputes is not the answer for everyone. However, we have the experience you need to help make that decision. Debra Sutton is Board Certified by the Florida Bar in Marital and Family Law and can help you explore all the available options. 

How We Help

Having an experienced and qualified attorney by your side helps ease the tension and can help lift the anxiety you feel about ending a marriage or litigating matters related to children. Debra Sutton has been Board Certified in Marital and Family Law since 2001 and Board Certified in Appellate Practice since 1997, handling family law matters before trial and appellate courts for 30 years. In fact, she is one of less than six percent of Florida attorneys who have achieved certification and less than one percent who have earned  Board Certification in family law.

Discuss Your Options Today

If you are dreading the prospect of a messy separation, a collaborative divorce may be a good alternative. Call our office at (863) 533-8912 or contact us online to schedule a consultation and discuss your options with a professional.

Divorce Mediation

How Divorce Mediation Can Help You

If you are dreading hostile divorce proceedings, attorney Debra J. Sutton also works with clients in mediation at her Bartow, Florida, law firm. Instead of working in opposition, separating spouses collaborate to find an amicable agreement on issues like property division, child custody and time sharing. As a specialist in marital and family law, and having also served as a divorce mediator, attorney Debra J. Sutton at the Sutton Law Firm will put this experience to work for you in this dispute resolution setting, allowing you and your spouse to make the decisions best suited for your family.

Mediation can ease the hostility that often follows a divorce.

What is Divorce Mediation?

Traditionally, legal disputes are resolved in court and often come with antagonistic and hostile relationships between the parties.   While this may be acceptable to litigants who are not otherwise connected or will likely not be involved together after the litigation, it is far from the best approach in family law.  Divorce mediation is recommended in family cases, particularly, as a more amicable alternative to traditional litigation.  It is actually required by the courts in most cases where a trial is imminent.  Unlike the collaborative law process, which seeks to avoid any type of litigation between the parties, mediation is used at a strategic point in the parties’ actual litigation where the attorneys or court believe the chance of coming together with a third party mediator may lead the parties to resolution.

During mediation, a neutral third party serves as the mediator between the separating spouses, providing guidance and helping to facilitate discussion to arrive at settlement of contested issues. This may include division of assets and debts, child support, parenting plans, and what type of time sharing schedule works best for the child.

For over 30 years, Ms. Sutton has used her expertise to help families transition from married to separated life and can help you too.

In preparing clients for mediation, Ms. Sutton and the Sutton Law Firm team will get your family history, will listen and understand who you are and what you want for your family.  Your family and the issues that need to be addressed will be a focal point, and the ideal outcome for your and your family will be identified. From there, Ms. Sutton can guide the negotiation making certain you understand the process and the legal implications of the agreement you and your spouse reach.  

Any settlement in mediation is reduced to a written agreement and signed by both parties.  If a settlement is not reached, you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you explored all options and will be ready and prepared if an impasse is declared to have a judge decide the final terms.  Yet, even if mediation is not successful at the time of the mediation conference, Ms. Sutton has been successful in settling disputes afterward and prior to trial.

Benefits of Divorce Mediation

Mediation offers many benefits, which include:

  • Reduced Cost: Mediation is typically less expensive than going to court.
  • Shorter Timeline: Agreeing to mediation allows the parties to control the timeline and can move the case along faster
  • Greater Privacy: There is no public record of a mediation and discussions during mediation are privileged.  The only thing reported to the court is whether the case settled and if it is resolved, the settlement agreement.  Litigation in contrast, in many cases, includes a substantial public record of the controversies that are often regretted when emotions calm in the months and years that follow.  This can be especially important in high asset divorce cases or cases involving prominent local or public figures.
  • More Amicable Parenting: When children are involved, mediation can make it easier for parents to understand the need for clear communication. Oftentimes, they end up being able to co-parent more effectively.
  • Reduced Stress: Parties coordinate a date and all agree to dedicate the time needed, without interruption, to focus on resolving the case.  The environment is less formal, which alleviates stress and allows the parties to negotiate without conflict.

Debra Sutton is a Board Certified in Marital and Family law attorney with the experience you need for a successful divorce mediation. For over 30 years, Ms. Sutton has helped families transition from married to separated life and can help you too.

Contact Our Office For Help

Even in the most amicable of cases, it is hard to go through a divorce. Debra Sutton has been Board Certified in Appellate Practice since 1997 and Board Certified in Marital and Family Law since 2001. Call our office at (863) 533-8912 or contact us online to learn more about what we can do for you today.

High Asset Divorce

Debra J. Sutton at the Sutton Law Firm has over 30 years’ experience practicing family law and knows what steps to take to ensure your rights are protected during divorce. High net worth individuals face challenges in divorce not experienced by others. The rules applicable, entities involved and tax consequences are just a few. Qualified and with experience as a high asset divorce lawyer, Ms. Sutton takes your financial future seriously. Whether the assets in question were accumulated before or during the marriage, through a family business, professional practice, or investments, we can help you maximize your financial settlement. Call us in Bartow, FL, to find out what we can do for you today.

When you or your spouse have a significant net worth, it can seriously complicate divorce and family law proceedings.

What Is a High Asset Divorce?

A high asset divorce involves parties who have accumulated substantial net worth. It can also include cases where an individual has substantial non-marital income and assets. This may be in the form of high income, substantial assets, substantial home and business equity, multiple real properties, overseas assets, large insurance and retirement accounts, a trust, or valuable artwork. As a result, there are often prenuptial agreements or payout provisions on certain types of accounts which require special attention. Some of the provisions of prenuptial agreements may have been modified or compromised during the marriage by conduct of one of the parties.

When meaningful assets are in play, it is all the more important to put your case in the hands of a trusted Board Certified attorney.  Maximizing your finances in a high asset divorce can provide financial security for yourself and your children for years to come. Debra J. Sutton has been a family law practitioner for over 30 years and has experience handling families and divorces with large assets and high net worth. We are here to help you get the peace of mind that comes along with being financially stability.

Ms. Sutton is one of less than six percent of Florida attorneys who have achieved Board Certification and less than one percent who have earned Board Certification in Marital and Family Law and Appellate Practice. 

What to Expect during a High Asset Divorce

This type of divorce requires careful consideration of many elements, including:

  • Prenuptial agreements: If you or your spouse signed an agreement before getting married to safeguard any assets or income upon your divorce, that agreement will need to be carefully reviewed to make sure the terms are valid.
  • Alimony: If one party to the marriage gave up significant income in order to take care of the home or offer support while the other spouse completed their education, you will need to discuss spousal support. The court will typically consider a number of factors before ordering support, all of which Ms. Sutton will scrutinize carefully.
  • Assets: Multiple properties, large bank accounts, valuable pieces of personal property, and business interests may need to be distributed upon divorce. It is critical to locate and deal with every asset accumulated, valued and with consideration to tax consequences of the awards to accomplish a fair property distribution.

Most high asset divorce cases require appraisals by financial experts to get a clear picture of total worth. It is crucial to partner with a qualified attorney to protect your assets. Ms. Sutton handles these type of cases and understands the importance of taking every precaution to preserve your wealth.

Schedule a Consultation

As a Board Certified attorney in Marital and Family Law since 2001 and in Appellate Practice since 1997, Debra J. Sutton offers a full range of legal services and experience in high asset divorce cases. Ms. Sutton is one of less than six percent of Florida attorneys who have achieved Board Certification and less than one percent who have earned Board Certification in family law. Call our office at (863) 533-8912, or contact us online to schedule a consultation and discuss your case today.

Debra J. Sutton

Sutton Law Firm

Debra J. Sutton is an attorney who is board-certified in both appellate practice and marital and family law by the Florida Bar. At the Sutton Law Firm, with offices in Bartow, Lakeland, and St. Petersburg, Ms. Sutton, Mr. Kovschak, and their team provide individualized, compassionate, and private legal services. Our popular practice areas include:

You can request a consultation with our board-certified attorney right now by filling out our online form or calling (863) 533-8912.

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Bartow Office

325 W Main St
Bartow, FL 33830

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7024 Central Ave
Ste. 7
St Petersburg, FL 33707

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Lakeland, FL 33813

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