How many friends or family members do you know that had their lives turned upside down, relationships with children destroyed, and bank accounts drained in order to get a divorce?
How many friends or family members let a judge (who knew nothing about them) decide when they can see their kids and what property they can keep?
Unfortunately the answer to both questions is probably more than one. You don’t have to make that same mistake. You can choose to pursue your divorce without the destruction that usually accompanies emotional litigation. This is what Collaborative Divorce offers to you.
Collaborative divorce is a process through which you and your spouse, and your Collaborative Divorce Lawyers, commit tourselves to resolving all issues of the divorce by negotiated agreement without resorting, or threatening to resort, to costly court proceedings. Collaborative divorce uses informal methods such as voluntary production of financial documents, four-way conferences, negotiation, and where needed, outside professionals such as accountants, financial planners and family counselors. While some lawyers may refer to themselves as being collaborative in style, true collaborative lawyering requires commitment to the “no court” aspect of the process.
The collaborative model provides an opportunity and an incentive for everyone involved to use their best efforts to reach agreement. If this is not possible, then by the terms of the agreement between the parties and their attorneys, the parties are free to seek litigation counsel. Collaborative Divorce Lawyers therefore have an incentive to facilitate agreement, rather than to foster conflict between you and your ex-spouse. In the event that the collaborative process is unable to resolve all the issues in dispute between both of you, agreements reached during the collaboration can be preserved, and litigation can focus on the remaining issue or issues, limited and defined by the less expensive collaborative process.
The Benefits of Collaborative Divorce
The collaborative process is designed to be less time consuming, less expensive and less confrontational than traditional adversarial divorce. You are better able to focus on pertinent issues because stress and anxiety are effectively reduced. Money saved in the collaboration can be used to jointly engage the services of other professionals, such as financial planners or tax accountants. An additional benefit is that the collaborative process is more private than a contested divorce generating court filings, transcripts and hearings in open court.
Collaborative resolutions are reached through a process in which you have more control and settlements have been designed to meet your needs. These agreements are designed to be more sustainable over longer periods of time. Like the agreements reached in mediation, there is less post-judgment litigation in divorces resolved by collaborative methods. The non-combative atmosphere diminishes hostilities, allows the parties to preserve and enhance that which remains of their parenting relationship for the benefit of children, and allows them to learn to work cooperatively during and after the divorce, managing finances and co-parenting children.
How it Works
You and your spouse each choose individual collaborative divorce lawyers that you determine are best able to represent your needs. If you are unsure whether a collaborative divorce is suitable for your situation or have questions about the process, feel free to call The Shea Law Firm at (832) 592-7913.
The parties and their lawyers agree upon and sign a collaborative case representation agreement. By agreement, one of the spouses is designated as the “plaintiff”. That person’s divorce attorney prepares the paperwork for the divorce to be served on the other spouse and filed in court so that the divorce conforms to all the legal and procedural requirements of Texas law. After the case is filed, the parties exchange financial and other information, and participate in negotiations and meetings designed to work out resolutions to all the issues that face a divorcing couple.
No motions are filed or argued in court while the divorce is pending, nor do the parties engage in formal “discovery”. All financial information is produced voluntarily and no discovery motions are filed, subpoenas issued or depositions taken. If necessary, the parties jointly engage the services of a specialist to help with the resolution of complex issues (i.e. business valuations, tax planning or customized parenting plans). Ultimately, all agreements are reduced to writing in a form that is acceptable to the court. Each Collaborative Divorce Attorney prepares whatever paperwork is necessary for his or her client. The lawyers arrange for the case to be placed on the court calendar for the only court appearance that is required — the “final uncontested hearing” where the agreement and required paperwork is presented to the court for approval.
How to Begin
The Shea Law Firm can help you review your situation, discuss your goals, and analyze if Collaborative Divorce may work in your case. Call us at (832) 592-7913 to get started today.