Working together to protect your family’s interests
Even though your marriage is ending, you and your spouse may have agreed that you want to protect your children from the stress and conflict of divorce and preserve as much of your financial assets as possible. You may wish to avoid the emotional and financial costs of a litigated divorce. If these things are important to you, working with a Dallas collaborative divorce attorney may be the right option for your family. (We also have offices in Plano and Austin!)
How Collaborative Divorce Works in Texas
From anger and sadness to worry about the future, divorce is bound to invoke strong emotions. However divorcing spouses feel about each other, most parents agree that they want to minimize the impact divorce will have on their children.
Collaborative Divorce – also known as Collaborative Law Process – means that you and your spouse commit to resolving your dispute outside of court. This does not mean your divorce will be easy or friendly. But if you’re able to make key decisions about your divorce together with the advice and help of your collaboratively-trained lawyers, then the collaborative divorce process will give you more control over your final settlement.
Collaborative Law in Texas is a different approach to that historically used to settle disputes. Three of the most remarkable distinctions are as follows:
- Parties specifically agree to treat each other with civility, and dignity and respect and are reminded of that agreement if the process begins to veer off course;
- Parties agree to concentrate on identifying and meeting needs rather than arguing over positions;
- Parties agree to full and honest disclosure of financial and other information.
Collaborative principles, like these, foster an environment conducive to resolving conflict and finding custom-made solutions that truly fit both parties’ needs. However, the Collaborative Law approach might not be appropriate in cases of abuse, family violence, or when one party is not able or willing to focus on meeting needs. The existence of an emergency or the level of animosity between parties may also dictate that the best forum is the court system rather than the collaborative process.
The key differences between a Collaborative Divorce and a traditional divorce are:
- You exchange all information needed to make informed decisions voluntarily and informally.
- All negotiations are interest-based with the aim of finding solutions that are acceptable to you and your spouse and that work best for the entire family.
- If you have children, you and your lawyers commit to making them the top priority.
- You, your spouse and your respective lawyers sign an agreement not to go to court to resolve your differences.
What is a Collaborative Participation Agreement in Texas?
If parties agree to the terms of the Collaborative Participation Agreement, there are other advantages of using the process to work out issues of child custody and support, namely, the three “C’s that describe the process as confidential, convenient and controlled. Unlike a courtroom, which is open to the public and where a record of the proceedings is made and kept as public record, the Collaborative Law process is private and conducted in a setting chosen by the parties and managed by your Dallas collaborative divorce attorney. All settlement discussions, financial documents, mental health evaluations and recommendations, and child custody and support negotiations are kept private. The only things that need be made public are those documents that must be filed with the court for its approval, such as the divorce decree, property settlement, and the decision regarding child support and custody and there are ways to keep even those private.
The second “C,” convenient, is once again because the process is not in the court system and thus there is no set time schedule for negotiations, evaluations by experts, or filing deadlines. In addition, the setting for meetings and negotiations is completely up to the parties and need not be the uncomfortable and often intimidating courtroom.
Finally, the third “C,” controlled, actually underlies the other aspects of the Collaborative Law process. The participation agreement sets out a number of conditions that must be followed in the process, but those conditions are there to ensure that parties can take control of their own family law issues. The agreement sets out the “ground rules” and gives parties the opportunity to take control of the resolution of the disputes that are the most personal and the most important.
Is A Collaborative Divorce Attorney Right for You?
If you are considering a legal action such as divorce, a contested property division or a child custody modification, GoransonBain Ausley can help you formulate a strategy that will move you toward a successful outcome. With a seasoned team that includes former judges and some of the state’s most respected family law attorneys, we can give you a clear perspective that will help you decide whether it is best to pursue your objectives through litigation, collaborative divorce, or other alternative resolution methods.
The GoransonBain Ausley lawyers are leaders in Texas in the Collaborative Divorce Process. All of our lawyers have been collaboratively trained and have supported many Austin, Plano and Dallas families with collaborative divorces. We empower families to find productive solutions that work specifically for their families and help them face the future with confidence.
- The Minimally-Invasive Divorce by Curtis Harrison
- Kris Algert answers Can You Have a Collaborative Divorce If Your Spouse Has a Difficult Personality?