Collaborative divorces in Texas can be more complicated than you might think. The general idea behind collaborative divorce is that instead of spending most of your time arguing and debating the points of your case you would instead devote most of your time and attention towards resolving matters through settlement and negotiation. The objective is that you would avoid the negative aspects and costly financial implications of a divorce. By doing this you can save yourself a lot of time and money. On top of that, you and your spouse can devote more of your attention to areas of your life that will require greater attention Once your case is done and over with.

The expectation that many people have when they begin a divorce is that it is going to be not only complicated but it also expensive and long. From having worked with many people who have gone through the divorce process I don’t think there is anyone that began the case also with the expectation that the whole thing would be simple or even straightforward. The expectation is that divorce laws are more complicated than need be and that the family courts of Texas are Byzantine as far as they’re being needlessly complicated and unwieldy in terms of their application for everyday people. I cannot say that this expectation regarding divorce law and the courts is altogether off base. Many aspects of a divorce case can be complicated.

A collaborative divorce, on the other hand, seeks to avoid many of these negative aspects of a divorce. Without a doubt, collaborative divorces can be complicated and do carry with them challenges of their own. However, most collaborative divorces seek to allow you and your spouse to have direct control over the proceedings. This is a huge benefit for you and your spouse if your mission is to avoid bringing the Texas family code as well as a family court judge into the picture. The fewer adjudges involved the less the Texas family code becomes a relevant consideration in your divorce. This usually shortens the length of your case and allows for a better outcome to be the result.

The main points associated with collaborative divorces

Most everyone reading this blog post, I assume, is more familiar with the traditional method of divorce than with a collaborative method. The traditional method of divorce involves you and your spouse filing divorce papers and then attempting to settle your case in mediation before a temporary order hearing or a trial date. In the middle of all that you will exchange discovery information and attempt in whatever way you can to settle the main issues in your case. Some parties are better than others at this. You probably have a good idea right now of how well you and your spouse may fare when it comes to negotiating through the tough issues of a divorce.

All the while, your attorneys should be attempting to work with both of you to resolve your case amicably. However, the reality is that there are some attorneys out there who are better at creating conflict than they are at resolving conflict. Well, it can be advantageous for you to have an attorney who will not back down from a fight that the same attitude can lead to unnecessary stress and acrimony within the case if not harnessed correctly.

A collaborative law attorney, on the other hand, is equipped to advocate zealously for you but to do so in a way that will not create unnecessary conflict between you and your spouse. The reality of your situation is that there already is going to be a certain amount of conflict and acrimony between you and your spouse. Going through a divorce necessarily means that there is some degree of disagreement between you and your spouse. The last thing in the world that you want is to have the divorce process itself or even your attorney add to that level of disagreement. 

Rather, a collaborative law attorney will pledge that he or she will do whatever it takes to help you and your spouse avoid going to court. Both of you will hire A collaborative attorney to represent your interest period from there, the attorney can help the two of you facilitate settlement agreements. This can be through negotiation, the exchange of documentation or even engaging with both of you in creative problem-solving. The bottom line is that the more you and your spouse are put into positions where you are talking to one another the greater chance you have of settling your case. 

Finding solutions that work for both parties

it is sometimes lost in even amicable divorce negotiations that a settlement structure is supposed to benefit both parties. Even when people say that they intend to work towards amicable solutions in their divorce what they mean is that they are willing to discuss the contents of a case but only to the point where they come out on top and then negotiate. While it is better to be willing to negotiate a case than not the reality is that in any settlement both sides must give to get something. If you are bent on negotiating only so far as it will benefit you and your family, then you are doing yourself a disservice.

Collaborative law attorneys strike a balance between advocating zealously for their clients while keeping and finding solutions that work well for all parties involved. In this way being an attorney in a collaborative environment is oftentimes more challenging than being Elsa turning in an adversarial environment. However, if you select an experienced collaborative divorce attorney did that lawyer could walk you through creative solutions that you may otherwise have been unaware of. 

the collaborative divorce process begins with both you and your Co-parent agreeing in writing to participate collaboratively. As I mentioned a moment ago both you and your spouse will be represented by an attorney in the collaborative law process. The exact language contained in your collaborative law agreement may differ from another person who has gone through the collaborative divorce process. However, the overall aim of your collaborative divorce will be the same as any other person. Namely, the goal will be to resolve your disputes between you and your spouse while avoiding the courtroom if possible.

I think that the setting involved in a collaborative divorce also makes a difference. In a collaborative divorce, a great deal of the negotiations and events of the case will occur in an attorney’s office. Neutral parties like parenting coordinators, financial experts, and others may participate in the ongoing discussions between you and your spouse. The simpler your case may be the less you need to employ experts for this type. However, the more complicated your case is the more you may stand to benefit from the advice and perspective of experts in their fields like these.

You can compare the events of a collaborative divorce to that of a traditional divorce. In a traditional divorce, you and your spouse will take disagreements to the courtroom and submit evidence to a judge. The judge will then have ultimate decision-making authority when it comes to determining outcomes in your case on subjects like temporary orders, discovery, final orders, and everything in between. This is a much different setting for a divorce than what you see in a collaborative environment. I think the opportunities are greater for civil in amicable conversations in a collaborative divorce than in litigation-based, traditional divorce.

If you and your spouse are unable to agree within a collaborative divorce setting, then you can opt-out of your agreement on a mutual basis. From there, the two of you would be able to re-engage in a more traditional divorce. You will hire new attorneys depending upon the circumstances of your case and the preference that you and your attorneys have. Even then, it is not as if you and your attorney we’ll have to start from scratch. Much of the work in your case will have already been done and accomplished simply by engaging in productive conversations on settlement and exchanging documentation.

One of the best advantages that I can mention to you in this setting when it comes to a collaborative divorce is that a collaborative divorce requires a fair bit of time to become engaged. As a result, it does encourage you and your spouse to be become truly engaged in the process and to stay faithful to it despite any hardships that you might encounter during negotiation. The alternative is to delay your case. It is almost like having to start from scratch when you transition from a Collaborative divorce to a traditional divorce. Depending on the exact circumstances relevant to your case it may be best for you all to stay the course in an attempt to resolve your issues through negotiation and the collaborative process. 

How do I know if the collaborative divorce process is right for me and my family?

You will not be able to figure out whether a collaborative divorce is right for you and your family just by reading today’s blog post. While it is a good place to start, I am not able to provide you with any type of recommendations given that I do not know your circumstances. Family law in general and divorces specifically tend to hinge on the specific circumstances that you find yourself in along with that of your family. If you, cannot understand and be truthful with yourself about your specific circumstances then you will have trouble determining goals for your case as well as what type of divorce is right for you.

To be sure, most people that are going through a divorce as we speak become involved with a traditional divorce that proceeds through the family courts. It is not as if your collaborative divorce will not involve the courts at all. You would still file your divorce through the family court then be assigned a judge. Your case would have the same timeline like any other divorce assuming that you are not able to reach a successful settlement in your case. However, what I can tell you is that the people who succeed in a collaborative environment are those that are willing to put aside their ego, differences and expectations to an extent and instead focus on the reality of your case and what is best for your family, especially your children. 

I think families stand to benefit the most from collaborative divorces when they have children. If your divorce just involves financial issues, then you can achieve similar results in a collaborative and traditional divorce environment. Nobody is forcing you to engage in either. However, if you and your spouse are willing to negotiate with one another then a collaborative divorce may be something that you can consider. 

Remember that your children stand to benefit from a situation where you and your spouse are willing to work with each other and set aside your major differences in hopes of reaching outcomes that are beneficial for everyone involved. I see this occur with some regularity for parents who may have some issues regarding conservatorships. Namely, new and your Co-parent just agree on who should be named as the primary conservator of your children. Many times, you may hold the opinion that you should be the primary conservator even if that is not a responsibility you have ever dealt with.

As a result, your pride may tell you to push for primary conservatorships even if you are ill-suited for the job. This does not mean that you are not a good parent or are not devoted to your child. However, what it may mean is that your spouse is better acclimated to the job, and you may have a job that takes you away from family regularly. As a result, if you cannot devote the time necessary to raise your children on a primary basis, they probably would be better off with you as are Co-parent as their primary conservator.

Another way that collaborative divorces can ease the transition for children in terms of going from one household to two is that you can provide your children with regular updates on the case based on their age and maturity. Older children may be better equipped to handle the updates Whereas younger children may not need or even understand the updates if you wanted to give them. Either way, you can choose what updates to give to your children based on your individual preferences and circumstances. However, a collaborative divorce Will allow you to provide updates to your children and two encourage them that the divorce will not be something that goes on forever.

Maintaining a greater degree of control over what information about your divorce is made public 

In a traditional divorce, you and your spouse would proceed to the family law courts in any event of a dispute that cannot be resolved between the two of you. This is best seen through having hearings and even trials in open court where essentially any person off the street can wander in and view the proceedings of your case. You can make your pleadings and other documentation for the case nonpublic, but the courtroom appearances tend to be very public.

On the other hand, collaborative divorce allows you and your spouse to keep your personal and financial lives out of the public record in private between the two of you. Settlement negotiations, in general, are not made public as part of a record in any divorce. The same is true in a collaborative divorce. Rather, you and your spouse can obtain a divorce without resorting to messy, public disagreements and hearings. Even if your collaborative divorce does not end up as a successful means of settling your Case No party can testify to what occurred in those settlement negotiations once the case is complete. 

Additionally, if you and your spouse own little in terms of property and have no children then a collaborative divorce may work for you as well. While collaborative divorces work well for families with big issues to sort through, they can also work well for families that have only smaller matters to engage in. For example, if all it takes is one afternoon’s worth of negotiation for you all to divide your bank account and other small amounts of the property then collaborative divorce can encourage communication and quickly and your case on a positive note. 

Questions about the material presented in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

If you have any questions about the material contained in today’s blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as about how your family circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.