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The words peaceful, healthy, and divorce do not go together. Typically, when people think of divorce, they think of the words custody battle, fight, and war. There’s a better way: collaborative divorce.
Collaborative law started in Texas in 2001 as a movement away from the damage of courtrooms and toward putting the divorce process into the hands of the clients. With a collaborative divorce, the spouses can create their own customized divorce while focusing on keeping their family healthy and protecting their assets. There are no court hearings, no lengthy and costly litigation tactics, no discovery requests or depositions, which is much less stressful to the parties.
Instead of fighting in court, publicly airing dirty laundry, and just beating each other to a pulp while draining all of your money with attorney’s fees, collaborative law takes a different approach. The parties sign a binding agreement that they will not resort to such tactics and takes it off the table as an option. Then the parties agree to work together to resolve their case and finalize their divorce. The first principal of collaborative law is that it is in YOUR best interest to be nice and respectful of the other spouse. If you do that, then the other spouse is more likely to give you what you want or very close to it.
How does collaborative divorce work?
Both you and your spouse will hire attorneys who are trained in collaborative law. Then you start building your collaborative Team. The Team includes the two attorneys representing the parties, the mental health neutral, and the financial neutral. Prior to the first meeting, the Team discusses the parties’ needs, outlines issues with the parenting plan, and discusses the depth and breadth of the estate.
The collaborative process is transparent. Typically, the clients identify their assets and liabilities and agree to freely exchange information. Once assets and liabilities are identified, we can run spreadsheets of different splits of the estate and ascertain if we need further investigation to properly divide the marital estate.
For the children
As for the children, one of the best things about collaborative divorce is the parents can custom tailor their parenting plan. One very efficient way to develop the parenting plan is for the spouses to meet with the Mental Health Neutral “offline” meaning outside of the Team meeting. The parents can develop schedule for the children that works for them. Here, they can go outside the “standard possession schedule box” and create a unique schedule that works for them. This is one of the most valuable tools of the Collaborative process.
A different approach
The clients are in the driver’s seat throughout the Collaborative process. Clients decide goals, when meetings occur, and help set agendas for children’s issues and the division of assets with the help of the neutrals.
You may think that collaborative divorce is only for agreed, uncontested divorces. Maybe you have this image of everyone arm in arm singing kumbaya. You may think that since your divorce is highly contentious, it can’t be a collaborative divorce. Nothing can be further from the truth. Collaborative divorce is a good choice for all types of divorces.
In summary the advantages of collaborative law are:
Although there is attorney-client confidentiality, the Team cannot hide assets. If a Team member requests information to divide the estate or to draft a parenting plan, there is no escaping it.
Meetings last 2 hours typically and can be scheduled according to the clients’ calendar and be scheduled via video conferencing.
Emotionally healthy communication
The Mental Health Neutral is also a communications coach. If parties engage in conflict during a meeting, the Mental Health Neutral will assist in mitigating the problem and redirecting the conversation back to resolution.
Privacy is a very important aspect of collaborative law. There will never be a day when you have to take the stand and publicly trash your spouse in order to get more time with your kids or more child support. Additionally, your assets and liabilities will not be made public record for all to see. The Team meetings are private, confidential, and self-contained.
If this alternative way to divorce makes sense to you and you are interested in the Collaborative approach, please contact us to discuss your options.
Free attorney consultation
Call our conveniently located office at 254-690-5688 to schedule a free initial consultation with our collaborative divorce lawyers.