The collaborative divorce model is an alternative to traditional “contested litigation” in that it is based on resolving a divorce using open discussion and cooperation in a private environment. The Collaborative Family Law Act is specified in Chapter 15 of the Texas Family Code. In collaborative divorce, each party is represented by his or her own attorney, and major aspects of the process include the following:
- Signing of a collaborative family law participation agreement and filing it with the court.
- The agreement includes each party’s commitment not to use court hearings to resolve issues.
- Rather, issues are resolved based on a series of informal meetings among the two parties and their respective attorneys where information is exchanged without formal discovery processes.
- Issues are explored during open, respectful communications that focus on each party’s “interests.”
- The parties and attorneys try to maximize, balance and blend the various interests, so that a unique solution can be achieved that enhances each party’s satisfaction with the outcome.
- Outside experts might be involved, such as a financial professional (e.g. CPA) and communications professional (e.g. licensed professional counselor).
The collaborative divorce process ends if either party notifies the other of withdrawal or a court hearing is set to resolve one or more matters. In such cases, the attorneys for each party in the collaborative divorce process must withdrawal since they are prohibited by statute from participating in contested matters.
In general, the main benefits of collaborative divorce are open communications about sensitive matters in an environment that affords privacy, dignity, and the opportunity to fashion unique solutions that maximize satisfaction of each party’s interests.
Attorney Jim Cramp is a trained collaborative divorce counselor and member of Collaborative Divorce Texas. Contact Attorney Jim Cramp to learn more about how the collaborative divorce process might benefit you.