Texas Collaborative Lawyers

Collaborative Law: Does it Really Work?

Collaborative law is a type of family law that is only appropriate for certain parties seeking a divorce. Texas statute defines collaborative law as: “a procedure in which the parties and their counsel agree in writing to use their best efforts to make a good faith attempt to resolve the suit affecting the parent-child relationship on an agreed basis without resorting to judicial intervention except to have the court approve the settlement agreement, make the legal pronouncements, and sign the orders required by law to effectuate the agreement of the parties as the court determines appropriate.” Texas Family Code, §153.0072

The collaborative law process employs a series of mini-mediations in a group setting to resolve the issues of asset and debt distribution, possession of and access to children and all other issues incident to divorce. A typical collaborative session will last approximately 2 hours. There is no time limit imposed on these sessions except by the agreement of the parties. Since there are many issues that need to be resolved in a divorce suit, there will likely be 3-4 joint sessions culminating in a final session where the agreed decree is signed by the parties and their respective attorneys.

Perhaps the most important aspect of the collaborative process is the parties’ agreement to exchange information fully and freely. In a typical divorce, information is gleaned through the discovery process, which is governed by the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure. Parties resisting discovery are subject to court intervention and possible sanctions. However, in the collaborative process, there is no court intervention since the parties agree not to seek such.

Another part of the collaborative process can involve hiring experts to evaluate the parties’ assets and to assist in the joint sessions in the role of a mental health professional. These experts are hired by both parties and are obliged to be fair and honest about their findings to both parties. In a typical divorce, experts are often hired, but their allegiance is to the party who hired them. It is important that the experts in a collaborative process be neutral and not show favoritism to one party since that would tend to undermine confidence in the professional.

If the collaborative process fails, the attorneys must withdraw from representation of their respective client. The parties must then find new counsel. This provides a great incentive to make the process work.

The collaborative process is not for everyone. Parties must be open to the commitment of full disclosure and good faith effort to settle the dispute. Because divorce is an emotionally charged process, not many people are able to set aside their differences in order to separate their lives in a manner consistent with the collaborative process. The real beneficiaries of the collaborative process, however, are the children.

For more information on the collaborative process or to explore whether this process is right for you, contact the Houston Collaborative Law Attorneys or the North Houston Collaborative Law Lawyers at Veritas Legal Group, PC at 71`3-492-0337 to schedule a confidential consultation. Or, simply fill out our online Contact Form and an attorney will contact you within 24 hours.

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