By Deborah Bostock-Kelley
According to the CDC, the provisional number of divorces (and annulments) in the United States was over 800,000 in a population of over 258 million people from 2000-2015.
Divorce can be costly, painful and hard on both the couple making the final, permanent break and oftentimes, the children caught in the crossfire.
With a background of 9 years in family law, beginning as an Assistant Attorney General for child support enforcement, Derek Lucas discovered that mediation in family law was often a kinder and gentler option than litigation. ”
Serving the North Tampa area for four years, Divorce Without War guides couples through the divorce process, mediating all issues related to divorce. It is Derek Lucas’s goal to make the process of divorce and the transition to a post-divorce relationship as easy as possible without seeking litigation.
Helping couples achieve a peaceful, low-cost divorce, the confidential divorce mediation company promotes healthy relationships and positive emotional well-being for both spouses going through a difficult process.
Derek mediates standard and intricate issues related to divorce including, but not limited to custody, co-parenting plans, marital property and debts, child support, alimony, visitation, time-sharing, post-divorce disputes, benefits and insurance.
He offers a free consultation to answer any questions and to get a feel for whether mediation is the right option for the couple. Generally, most people are more in agreement than they want to admit.
If they want to move forward, Derek offers four hours of mediation for $850. He also has drafting services that are based on the income and assets of the parties.
“Florida is a no-fault state, meaning one party in the couple needs to want the divorce for the divorce to be possible. That generally lets them know that they don’t have a choice and can make some choices of how to go through the process of divorce. All cases related to family law in Florida have to go through mediation,” Derek explained. “We try to preempt people from filing. We work mostly pro se litigants – that is people who haven’t gotten representation from an attorney. Some have representation, but since mediation is required, the couple will come in for mediation before moving into litigation.”
Mediation helps with divorce as it gives the couple the ability to make decisions without a timeclock of the court.
“When you file with the court, a deadline starts – a timeclock starts- so if people are a little more hesitant at what they want to do, starting a mediation prior to them filing anything gives them the ability to take their time,” he said. “A lot of times one person wants the divorce more than the other. If they’re willing to work together and take the time to work together to go through the process a little slower, sometimes it helps the other party who isn’t onboard with the divorce to prepare and get ready for it. My goal is to try to provide that alternative to the traditional adversarial litigation that comes with family law cases.”
Derek also uses mediation to help parents to co-parent and have a better relationship, being able to deal with the other parent better than when they were married.
A unique service he offers deals with children over 18. The courts don’t review concerns about children over 18 as they are considered legal adults. Mediation provides a way to put into legal writing items like payment for college or other situations facing older children agreed-upon during the marriage. With mediation, the couple can add that type of information into the agreement and when it gets ratified by the court, it becomes a valid agreement that can be enforced through the court.
Money and childrearing are key causes of divorce. The empty nest syndrome often results in divorce. After the children being the center of the relationship for so long, the couple discovers they don’t really know their spouse and problems that were buried by the common goal of raising children come bubbling to the surface.
But the news is not all bad.
Sometimes mediation may even result in reconciliation. Oftentimes the worst offenders in a marriage are the lack of communication, an imbalance of power, and arguing about parenting and finances. Improving communication, speaking out rather than holding things in, results in a stronger bond, thus a stronger improved marriage.
If the marriage does have to end, Derek wants the couple to be able to be at their child’s graduation or wedding together amicably.
“What we try and do is focus on what is needed in their family as opposed to some kind of cookie-cutter system. We try to wrap our process around what’s going on with them so that they can hopefully be successful in reaching an agreement,” he said. “The main thing we try to do is to keep the family together. Even if the marriage has to end, the family doesn’t have to.”
Divorce without War is located at 13920 North Dale Mabry Highway, Suite 2. For more information about mediation services or to schedule your free consultation, call 813.527.0343 or visit www.divorcewithoutwar.com.