By Deborah Bostock-Kelley
Two predicted outcomes of living in close, constant proximity with your spouse in Cornavirus lockdown are births and divorces. Derek Lucas can help make the latter as painless as possible.
As this prolonged period of togetherness may have fractured any attempts to repair the relationship, Derek and his company, Divorce Without War, offers an affordable alternative to costly litigation. Meeting virtually on Zoom and other online platforms, he confidentially mediates a divorce to promote healthy relationships and positive emotional well-being for both spouses going through a painful, complicated process, often with children in the crossfire.
Serving the North Tampa area for five years, Divorce Without War guides couples through the divorce process, mediating all issues related to it, making the process and the transition to a post-divorce relationship as simple as possible, avoiding litigation.
With experience as an assistant state attorney doing child support enforcement and working in a private family law firm, Derek discovered that mediation in family law was often a kinder and more effective option than litigation.
“If you can avoid litigation and reach an agreement through a virtual mediation, the statistics show you are less likely to come back to court.”
Mediating standard and intricate issues related to divorce including, but not limited to, custody, 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.
With virtual hours Monday through Friday, 9 am to 5 pm, after-hours and Saturday available as-needed, he tries to assist couples preemptively, before they have representation from an attorney. Though some already have a lawyer, all cases related to family law in Florida are required to go through mediation. Derek always encourages the couple to have a lawyer review any agreement they reached, but getting to that agreement can be done with or without attorneys based on the couple’s preference.
“Florida is a no-fault state, meaning either party may seek a divorce without providing any reason other than they don’t want to be married. That lets the other party know that they don’t have a choice on getting a divorce but may make some choices of how to go through the process of divorce,” Derek explained. “Mediation is less stressful than litigation as the couple can make decisions without a timeclock of the court.”
“When you file with the court, a deadline starts – a timeclock – so if people are a little more hesitant at what they want to do, starting a mediation before 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 on board 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 service mediation provides that litigation does not 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.
Though money, childrearing, and empty nest syndrome are often the critical causes of divorce, Derek expects that stress of the uncertainty of Coronavirus adds to these underlying issues. Many spouses have been furloughed from their jobs; ill-equipped parents are attempting to work from home and become educators to their children, spouses who usually have the ability for “me” time are no longer able to leave home.
But the news is not all bad.
Sometimes mediation may even result in reconciliation. Frequently 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 focuses on what the specific family needs rather than a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all solution.
“I want them to be able to be at their child’s graduation or wedding together amicably,” he said. “We want to keep the family unit together. That’s our main goal. Just because the marriage ended, the family doesn’t have to.”
Though doing virtual mediation during COVID-19, 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.