Houston Collaborative Divorce Attorney
Divorce doesn’t always have to be a contentious legal battle. If your marriage is ending, you likely want to resolve your divorce issues as amicably as possible while ensuring that you protect the best interests of your family. A Houston collaborative divorce attorney can help.
What Is Collaborative Divorce?
A collaborative divorce is a form of alternative dispute resolution, where divorcing spouses try to settle their issues privately and out of court. Both you and your spouse must go in with an open mind and a willingness to compromise. While you will both have your own attorney, you maintain open communication and work together to build a fair divorce settlement.
However, that doesn’t mean that there won’t be disagreements. When you’re trying to divide significant marital property, calculate child support and spousal support payments, and allocate parenting time and custody, it’s inevitable that you won’t see eye to on everything. The difference with the collaborative divorce approach, however, is that the parties don’t immediately retreat to their respective camps and prepare for a legal battle. Instead, they dig in and try to resolve the dispute through negotiation.
For many divorcing couples, collaborative divorce is also more efficient, cost-effective, and private. It is particularly appealing to professional families who would rather resolve their divorce out of court and preserve their co-parenting relationships.
How Does Collaborative Divorce Work?
When you and your spouse agree to a collaborative divorce, you will sign a document called a collaborative or participation agreement. In this document, you will both agree to a series of parameters that may help keep your divorce amicable and streamlined. Typically, these ground rules include:
- Recognition that both parties can get a fair deal during a divorce
- Promise to avoid litigation and aggressive tactics during the divorce
- Willingness to disclose relevant financial and other important information
- Agreement not to escalate custody questions or demand court-ordered evaluations of the other parent
- Reliance on respected, objective experts when valuing your marital property and building a parenting plan
Each party will work with their own collaborative divorce attorney, who is specially trained in this alternative dispute resolution process. These lawyers advocate for their clients’ best interests, but rarely escalate matters or demand court hearings.
Instead, they work together and consult with respected, neutral experts who help them create an equitable divorce settlement. During this process, the parties will discuss child custody, child support, property division, alimony, and other important issues. Many times, the collaborative process gives couples more freedom and creativity when solving these difficult issues than the court system.
If the parties cannot reach an agreement or if one of the parties violates their collaborative agreement, it may become void — and the parties will head to court. They will also end their relationship with their respective collaborative divorce attorney and hire a more traditional, trial-focused divorce lawyer.
When Is the Collaborative Divorce Approach Right for You?
Like anything, collaborative divorce is not for everyone. Sometimes, the marital relationship is so damaged that the spouses cannot maintain the level of amicability necessary to work together. And we rarely, if ever, recommend collaborative divorce in a situation that involves domestic abuse or violence.
However, many Houston couples realize benefits of collaborative divorce in finding custom-made solutions that fit the needs of both parties. If both are willing to sit down together, talk candidly, and listen to each other, you may benefit from this approach.
What Is the Difference Between Collaborative Divorce and Mediation?
Many people confuse collaborative divorce and mediation, but they are actually different processes. In Houston, many courts order mediation before you take a divorce to trial. Mediation involves working with a trained, neutral party who guides the divorcing spouses through negotiations. The mediator may or may not be a lawyer. While you may engage in a series of mediation sessions, it can also be a one-time meeting.
In a collaborative divorce, each party signs an agreement, promising to avoid aggressive or adversarial strategies during the divorce — and to do their best to avoid litigation. They each retain a collaborative divorce attorney, who represents an individual spouse and is tasked with protecting their client’s best interests.
It’s also not a single session of alternative dispute resolution. Instead, the divorcing spouses agree to an entirely different approach and philosophy of divorce — that they can end their marriage without significant involvement of the courts.
Consult With a Houston Collaborative Divorce Attorney Today
When you work with Slate & Associates, we will put you and your family’s best interests at the forefront. If you want to end you marriage without significant involvement of the courts, a collaborative divorce attorney can help guide you through difficult discussions while avoiding animosity. To learn more, contact us today.