In traditional divorces, spouses go to court and ask a judge to resolve all of their disputes. The traditional courtroom approach can result in many hours of preparing, arguing, waiting for future hearing dates, and even lengthy trials. Both spouses can spend thousands of dollars, leaving them stressed about their personal and financial futures.
While traditional courtroom litigation remains an important option for couples facing certain circumstances, lawyers, courts, and lawmakers often encourage couples to participate in other approaches to divorce. One alternative approach to litigation is collaborative divorce. In a collaborative divorce, the focus shifts from the adversarial nature of the courtroom to a teamwork approach to resolving disputes.
Because collaborative divorce requires spouses to resolve every aspect of the divorce process without judicial intervention, it is not an approach that is suitable for everyone. For example, a collaborative and teamwork-based approach to divorce is not a good option for high-conflict situations or couples with a history of domestic violence. It works best for spouses who truly believe that they may be able to resolve all of their disputes out of court. A qualified family law attorney can provide information about which approach may be best suited for a particular situation.
Texas Collaborative Divorce Attorney
If you are interested in exploring collaborative divorce as an option for your family, consult with a legal professional before proceeding. At Horak Law, Texas family law attorney Matthew Horak is familiar with the myriad of ways you can get divorced, and he can offer you strong legal representation, regardless of the approach you choose.
Mr. Horak is prepared to utilize his extensive experience for your case. Your first consultation is free, so call (713) 225-8000 today.
Horak Law has offices in The Woodlands and Houston but serves clients throughout the state of Texas.
- Collaborative Divorce Process
- Benefits Of Collaborative Divorce
- Drawbacks Of Collaborative Divorce
- Additional Resources
Collaborative Divorce Process
Spouses who wish to attempt collaborative divorce must first consider whether they’re in a position to settle all of their disputes out of court. If there is even one issue that cannot be resolved out of court, collaborative divorce is not the right solution, although a hybrid approach may be appropriate. Like traditional litigation, collaborative divorce can resolve various kinds of divorce disputes, including:
- Dividing marital property, ranging from household property to retirement funds;
- Alimony (spousal support/maintenance);
- Child custody; and
- Timesharing (parenting time).
To be successful in resolving divorce issues, both spouses involved must adhere to the terms of the Texas Collaborative Law Act. Unlike other methods for divorce, such as mediation or traditional litigation, Texas collaborative divorce requires both spouses to hire attorneys. While most family law attorneys are trained to navigate courtroom divorce processes, many do not have the experience required for collaborative law. Because of this, spouses will want to find qualified collaborative divorce attorneys proactively.
When both spouses have selected their attorneys, the spouses will enter into a collaborative law participation agreement. When drafting this agreement, attorneys help their clients set parameters and expectations, and both sides eventually sign the agreement. The most important element of the agreement is that both spouses must promise to fully engage and make every effort to resolve all matters out of court. If spouses cannot resolve all disputed issues, both attorneys must leave the case, and the spouses must find new attorneys to represent them in court.
When the agreement is signed and the spouses have identified all issues in dispute, they can begin the collaborative process. Generally, this involves multiple sessions of negotiations, wherein the spouses and their attorneys meet to resolve concerns. Outside these negotiation times, the attorneys can work with their clients individually to discuss options and opportunities for compromise. Sometimes, the collaborative process requires help from other professionals, such as accountants, realtors, childcare experts, and mental health experts.
Once spouses have resolved their disputes, the attorneys will work together to draft the spouses’ final agreement, which details all agreements reached. The spouses will sign the agreement, and the document then becomes binding. Depending on the circumstances, the agreement may need to be read into a court record in front of a judge. Sometimes, however, attorneys can simply submit the agreement administratively for a judge’s approval.
Benefits Of Collaborative Divorce
Collaborative divorce is not a divorce process that works for everyone. Understanding its benefits and drawbacks can help guide the actions of individuals at the beginning of a marital separation. Benefits include:
Reduced Cost: While traditional litigation can be very costly, collaborative divorce is typically much more affordable. If an expert is required, spouses can typically split the cost of one expert, whereas, in courtroom litigation, each spouse is typically required to retain their own expert.
Less Time: Instead of waiting weeks to months between hearings, collaborative divorce typically requires multiple negotiation sessions with attorneys. These sessions can be scheduled closer together and can resolve all matters within days instead of months or even years.
Less Stress and Less Formal: Collaborative divorces do not occur in courthouses. Instead, negotiation sessions typically occur in smaller conference rooms. Spouses and their attorneys can discuss issues in comfortable chairs, take breaks on their terms, and speak candidly and informally.
Mutual Decision-Making: No one likes to leave their fate in another’s hands. In collaborative divorce, spouses work together to reach compromises. While compromises might not be exactly what both spouses want, there is often a sense of empowerment that comes from choosing to agree rather than leaving the issue at hand to a judge’s discretion.
Attorney Advocacy: Just like in traditional litigation, collaborative divorce attorneys still advocate for their clients’ positions.
Drawbacks Of Collaborative Divorce
While many people can benefit from collaborative divorce, there are drawbacks that should be considered before beginning the process.
History of Violence and High-Conflict Couples: Spouses with a history of domestic violence and those who have fundamental differences are unlikely to benefit, as their ability to communicate effectively has been lost.
All or Nothing Approach: A collaborative approach requires spouses to completely resolve their disputes. If they are unable to reach a complete agreement, they will have to start over with new attorneys. Not only does starting over take more time, but any money that may have already been spent on counsel is lost as well.
Trust: While both spouses are expected to fully participate, honestly and openly, the process still requires both spouses to trust that the other will engage as required. This expectation isn’t possible under all circumstances.
Texas Collaborative Law Statute – Texas provides all definitions and requirements for the collaborative law process for separating families.
Collaborative Law Institute of Texas – The Lone Star state provides numerous resources for individuals interested in learning about collaborative divorce and addresses the issues common to this area of law.
Houston Collaborative Divorce Lawyer | Harris County, TX
If you are pursuing a collaborative divorce in Houston, retain the experienced legal counsel of Houston family law attorney Matthew Horak at Horak Law. Mr. Horak and his legal team serve couples and families during all seasons, but especially during the divorce process. He is up-to-date on the latest developments in family law and works to make sure every client is aware of their options.
Divorce can be an overwhelming process but you do not have to tackle it alone. Get your first meeting with us on the calendar. Call (713) 225-8000 to arrange a free consultation with Horak Law today.
Horak Law serves clients throughout the State of Texas including Harris County, Montgomery County, Waller County, Liberty County, Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, and Galveston County.