Collaborative law is based on the realization that the commitment by the parties in a family is that it is in their best interest to avoid going to trial.
This process relies on open and honest communication and cooperation between the parties and their lawyers to achieve a fair result. This is a revolutionary approach to law, and legal professionals from all over the country are flocking to Dallas, Houston, and Austin which are the cities leading the way in developing this new approach to solving family law problems.
When a husband and a wife agree to handle their divorce through collaborative law, they agree to identify the goals, values, and interests of each parties. Both the husband and the wife maintain control over their decisions and how their family will make this life transition.
The collaborative law process takes dispute resolution to whole new level. Texas is at the national forefront of this exciting new way to solve family law problems. Our normal legal system uses an adversarial process to settle disputes. Collaborative law attorneys abandon this process, and instead use "team approach".
What does this mean for a couple in the process of a divorce?
Instead of playing alot of "legal games" which end up costing everyone alot of legal fees, both parties and their lawyers agree to cooperate and share the information needed to achieve a fair property settlement. This process is used for couples who both do and do not have children. If necessary, the parties agree to use neutral consultants such as CPA's, Appraisers, and sometimes Mental Health professionals.
Family Lawyers hate to see couples suffer through the divorce process The same deep intimacy felt between a man and woman can lead to just as deep feelings of pain, hurt and anger
Kids or no kids, a divorce can be a living hell Nice, otherwise normal persons can become transformed into different people – people their family and friends don’t even recognize
If there are kids, the situation is absolutely the worst No mom or dad would hurt their child on purpose. We wouldn’t throw our child in front of a car to protect ourselves Why do we then use our kids as shields and weapons against our spouses?
In spite of all the jokes you hear about lawyers, we really do care about our clients. We care about their pain, their frustration, and we care about helping to protect their kids from the “fallout” of this emotional nuclear war.
We also care about the financial cost of divorce. The less parties “fight”, the less they have to pay their attorneys, and the more money they have to divide between themselves and/or spend on their kids
For years, we’ve “wracked our brains,” knowing there has to be a better way
This is how the collaborative law process was born. Texas is leading the way in this innovative solution to the increasingly common problem of divorce.
Our legal system is normally adversarial in nature. This is how we protect our rights while trying to achieve a fair and just result to the lawsuit.
In a regular civil lawsuit, the parties may never have to see each other again -- not so with a divorce. Although sometimes ex-husbands and ex-wives lose track of each other, this doesn’t usually happen if they have kids together.
Even after the obligations of child support and visitation stop, the parties still face the challenges of holidays, weddings, grand-babies, etc.
Our generation has a lot more self-awareness. We have an army of self-help books and t.v. shows to help us express our feelings and “integrate our personalities”
We want to do better we just don’t know how. This is where the Collaborative Law Lawyer comes to the rescue.
Collaborative Law Professionals help our clients communicate with each other, maintain control over their case, and improve their ability to problem-solve and to use these skills long after the divorce is over
We reduce the stress associated with divorce, and assist parents to keep their kids out of the conflict.
The husband and wife (and their respective lawyers) All act on the same team to work towards a fair and workable agreement that divides the property in a sensible and mutually satisfactory manner. We forge an agreement on all the kid issues: conservatorship, visitation, child support and rights and duties, that truly is based on the best interest of the kids.
We agree to be open and honest and to share information with each other. Nobody “hides the ball,” or operates under a hidden agenda.
When necessary, other professionals may be invited to join our team, including financial advisers or maybe even mental health professionals if the parties feel that would be helpful.
We empower our clients to make their own decisions. Together, we identify the issues, analyze relevant information, develop options and investigate their consequences so we can achieve the best possible results in every case for all concerned
There is an old saying, “If you want peace, work for justice.” Although it was intended for a global audience, its truth rings just as true for the divorcing couple. Be fair to each other. Let yourselves heal. Let your children heal. Let your family move forward to a new beginning, a beginning that allows you to go in peace.
By C Eric Schmidt