The process of going through a divorce can be somewhat confusing, and no two cases are exactly alike. There is no cookie cutter mold for use in divorces. Because there are various types and processes involved, it is wise to ask questions and seek insight from an experienced family law attorney.
One type of divorce that may be beneficial for some couples is a collaborative law divorce. The following FAQ information is being supplied to answer a few of the questions individuals may have regarding this process.
What is Collaborative Law Divorce?
In a nutshell, collaborative law divorce can be referred to as removing a divorce from a courtroom setting where feelings of “fight and win” may pervade, and placing the divorce into a setting of “troubleshooting and problem solving” instead. During the process, collaborative divorce Texas attorneys use negotiation to help the involved parties settle their divorce.
How Does the Process of Collaborative Law Divorce Work?
Each spouse hires his or her own collaborative divorce attorney. Paperwork in the form of a participation agreement is typically signed. Such an agreement creates an important framework of ground rules. These may include specifics such as a commitment to discuss all concerns in a respectful manner, promising to be transparent when providing information, and agreeing that neither party will use a threat of going to court to get his or her way.
Each partner meets privately with his or her own chosen lawyer to prepare. When negotiation discussions are then held, each spouse is present with a personal attorney. In addition to the lawyers, professionals such as a divorce coach and a financial specialist may be included to create an interdisciplinary team. In working together to discuss all options and address all priorities, each spouse can consider the advantages or disadvantages and weigh out the long-term impact of each choice. After the two parties determine what is agreeable to both, the lawyers can prepare the necessary paperwork that will allow the agreement to be formalized.
Can Both Spouses Use the Same Attorney?
No. Each party in a collaborative divorce needs to have a separate attorney. It would not be ethically possible for one attorney to have at heart the best interest of two different individuals when any dispute between the two would arise. This scenario would present a conflict of interest for the attorney.
Is Collaborative Law Divorce Mainly for Couples Who Get Along?
No, not at all. In fact, the collaborative law process is designed to assist individuals who are having disagreements or differing opinions, including disputes that are significant. If both parties agree to using the collaborative divorce process, it can be implemented.
Is a Collaborative Law Divorce the Same as Hiring a Lawyer for Negotiating a Settlement?
No. There is a specific structure and certain protocols in collaborative law to help the parties reach agreement. The negotiation process is private, and information is exchanged to make sure each party can reach an informed decision. The collaborative divorce attorney has one job, and that is to help the client reach agreement. During the process, a child specialist may be enlisted to provide a professional assist if needed. Other professional participants may be integrated into the team to help work toward agreements.
What are the Differences in a Collaborative Divorce Structure and Other Negotiations?
- There are legal requirements and ground rules in collaborative law designed to make sure each individual gets the information needed to make wise personal choices. In addition, a safe environment is created to relieve pressure from each party, so concerns can be addressed and all settlement options can be explored.
- Collaborative law includes a basic premise that the individual who is in the very best position to make choices about the future is the client himself or herself. The individual can more effectively express his or her wishes, priorities, views and desires by filtering those issues through a lawyer.
- A durable agreement is the measure of success in collaborative law. Emotions often run high and deep in a divorce, so attorneys involved in collaborative divorce Texas encourage their clients to allow plenty of time before finalizing any tentative agreements to make sure the agreements aren’t clouded by short-term emotional thoughts. Each decision needs to be based on solid priorities and core values.
- Attorneys who are experienced in collaborative divorces often become settlement specialists, because of the extensive amount of effort and time they devote to studying about human conflict and working with individuals who are going through the process.
Does a Collaborative Case Take a Long Time?
It is common for a collaborative case to be settled in a much shorter time period than conventional cases. In collaborative cases, all of the effort and time is spent working toward helping the parties reach an agreement. There is none of the usual methodology of planning for adversarial tactics in a courtroom. Of course, each collaborative case is different, and some take longer than others. The deciding factor is how soon both parties come to agreement and are ready to settle.
What if the Collaborative Route Doesn’t Work Well? Can we Change?
Yes, you can. The collaborative process in a divorce is voluntary. Should you find that the process is not working well for you, the case can be transitioned over to a different type. The family law attorneys will handle the change. Either party may make a decision at any time to conclude the process.
Has Collaborative Law Proven to Work?
Many scholarly studies and articles have centered around the subject of collaborative law. The satisfaction rating by clients is much higher for the collaborative process in divorce than for the traditional adversarial process. A number of law schools, including Harvard Law, provide courses in collaborative law.
What are the Stages?
Once the parties have chosen separate legal representatives, the collaborative process generally has three stages, which are:
- Step One – Forming, Informing, Gathering, and Educating
- Step Two – Creating Options
- Step Three – Building an Agreement
It is typical for each step to be completed before going to the next step. In this way, orderly progression takes place, and everyone involved can anticipate what will happen next. Each step is customized, of course, because of the uniqueness of each situation. Issues taken into account include such things as the degree of conflict between the parties, the complexity of all issues, and the readiness of each party.
What are the Basic Benefits?
In addition to the avoidance of courtrooms, judges, and adversarial tactics, some of the major benefits of using a collaborative model for a divorce are as follows:
- Time saved
- Money saved
- Very informal setting
- Open, informal, free and honest exchange of information
- Parties involved get to decide how post-settlement disputes will be handled
- Each party gets to negotiate for results that will personally work
- Privacy – negotiations take place in a conference room, not in a courtroom
Find a Qualified Attorney to Move Forward with Collaborative Law Divorce.
Because of the complexity and number of issues there are to face in a divorce, wisdom dictates that an individual should not attempt to wade through the legal process alone. In such a major life transition, it is advisable to seek counsel from an experienced legal professional who can help ensure that a client’s best interest is considered in every step.
The popularity of collaborative law divorce is likely due to many of the factors listed above. When this method is used to help divorcing parties come to an agreement on issues, then a competent and trustworthy attorney can help facilitate the final result, and both spouses can move forward without the negativity of long, drawn out litigation and court appearances.
When a divorcing client chooses the right lawyer, the individual can be satisfied that he or she will not be overlooked in the process and each goal and priority can be openly expressed to the attorney. In the collaborative process, one of the greatest benefits is realized when the client finds that he or she can relax and trust the chosen legal representative to work toward an agreement that meets the client’s approval.