What is Collaborative Divorce? How does it differ from “regular divorce”?
Collaborative Divorce is sometimes called “a better way to divorce” because the parties are both intent on keeping things calm, professional, and civil. The emphasis is on minimizing stress and maintaining a respectful attitude between both of the parties and the professionals who are involved in helping them.
In traditional divorce people can feel forced into “game playing” and “posturing” just to protect themselves. The collaborative process provides a cooperative, safe, and respectful process for resolving the dispute. It allows parties to keep things private. In a traditional divorce, filing of motions and open hearings in the courtroom may be less private than the collaborative process.
Collaborative divorce is designed to help the parties share information that they each need in order to reach a solution in the case. It is very practical. In a collaborative divorce, each party still has his or her own attorney. But instead of court hearings, there are meetings where information is freely and respectfully shared.
In addition, the parties may agree on other, neutral professionals to be a part of the collaborative team.
It can be very difficult to analyze a couple’s current financial picture, and very difficult to project how various settlement options may affect each party and the children. Having the parties sit down together with each other, their attorneys (and other neutral professionals, when applicable) can be more efficient and practical than exchanging formal discovery and having hearings in a contested court case. When parties need help in analyzing the finances of the case, it is helpful to have a neutral financial professional such as a C.P.A., financial planner or other financial adviser as a collaborative team member.
When the parties need information or assistance from a mental health professional in order to help their children adjust to the divorce, a neutral mental health professional who is experienced in dealing with children can be a part of the collaborative team.
Just the fact that everyone is in the room at the same time hearing the same information tends to cut down on legal time used and can eliminate misunderstandings and “he said”, “she said”.
The Texas Family Code has specific provisions that relate to collaborative divorce. (The Collaborative Law Family Act).
When the collaborative process is begun, the parties and attorneys enter into a collaborative agreement. If the collaborative process does not work for the couple and the divorce becomes contested, the collaborative law agreement provides that the collaborative attorneys are disqualified from proceeding further.
No threats of litigation should be made during collaborative divorce process and the parties and their attorneys need to remain respectful.
Collaborative divorce is a progressive and effective tool that can assist divorcing parties in arriving at a reasonable settlement decision while maintaining respect and dignity.
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