Collaborative Family Law

Houston Collaborative Law Lawyer

Houston, Texas, Board-Certified Family Law Attorney

Collaborative law is a process that allows the parties in a family law dispute to resolve their case outside of the courthouse without the trauma and cost associated with the adversarial system. Collaborative law helps preserve relationships once the divorce is over and is the rational way to proceed if both parties wish to be rational.

In 2003, Texas was the first state to adopt several statutes relating to collaborative law. Collaborative law is a process in which the divorcing parties agree that they will seek to reach an amicable settlement by working together-rather than against each other-with the assistance of collaboratively-trained attorneys who are advocates, and, if necessary, collaboratively-trained professionals, such as psychologists and financial planners, who are neutrals.

In the last Legislature (2011), Collaborative Law became a Chapter in the Family Law Statutes as a Uniform Law, Title 1-A, Chapter 15 of the Family Code. A copy of the new statute is attached in the Articles Section of this Website.

There are a limited number of lawyers who possess the specialized training and experience necessary to participate in collaborative law. I have had formal training in the process, allowing me to offer collaborative law as an alternative to litigation when it comes to issues such as child custody, divorce, and property division. I provide collaborative family law and litigation services to clients in Houston and all surrounding communities.

All Board Certified Family Law Specialists are trained in Collaborative Law, as we have to know all disciplines of Family Law. However, some do not believe in Collaborative Law and are not committed to the process. I have been committed to the process, before there were statutes in 2003 and I am a Charter Member of the Collaborative Law Institute of Texas, the original, state organization of Collaborative Law attorneys and I am a member of the Collaborative Family Lawyers of Houston practice group.

The collaborative law process

In Texas, each party in collaborative law is represented by a collaborative family law attorney. In the collaborative law process, the lawyers, though true advocates for their clients' interests and goals, shepherd the clients through the process toward a successful, amicable solution of their own-making.

The goal of collaborative law is to minimize the emotional and financial damage to parents and children by addressing problems unique to each dissolution of marriage in a calm, communicative, and thoughtful manner. Collaborative law allows a divorcing couple to maintain control of the settlement process with their Texas collaborative family law attorney present to use as a resource and guide. If the collaborative effort results in no settlement, collaborative law attorneys must withdraw from the case and the parties must retain different divorce lawyers to handle the litigation of their divorce.

The benefits of collaborative divorce

Collaborative law is an inventive, much less formal method of divorce resolution in which you, your spouse, and your respective lawyers agree to resolve the issues through cooperation rather than adversarial means. In fact, all parties must sign a formal contract agreeing to those terms.

This process of open communication involves a series of informal meetings known as joint sessions with both parties and their lawyers. Unlike a traditional mediation or divorce litigation, collaborative law allows discussions to be interrupted and resumed later if difficulties or tension arise, while still permitting divorcing spouses the comfort of professional advice and guidance in a completely confidential environment. Please see the articles on collaborative law by clicking here.

If needed, collaborative law-trained mental health professionals and financial professionals can be brought into the process to assist in the achievement of the ultimate goal: the fair settlement of the case on the terms chosen by the clients, without court interference and without hostility. This is called Interdisciplinary Collaborative Law, and this is why it is uniformly used in all or most Collaborative Law cases in Travis County (Austin) and in Dallas County (Dallas and surrounding cities). In many cases, there are issues of Financial matters. Lawyers are not traditionally trained in financial matters, such as financial planning and serious tax analysis. Sometimes, there are issues of anger or mental health issues or, where do I go from here issues. Lawyers are not traditionally trained in these issues, either. As a matter of fact, if you are in litigation, the lawyer cannot be concerned about what happens during the NEXT part of your life, post divorce, once everything in your case is resolved and the attorney turns to another case to litigate or resolve. But, Collaborative Law does look at these extremely important matters and these allied professionals can assist in the managing and forecasting of these issues at about half the cost of the attorney flailing around, attempting to satisfy the client's needs. Some Collaborative Law cases do not need these additional team members. Some absolutely do need these additional allied professionals. Is it more expensive? I guess sometimes it is. But, if everyone does their job...and only their job, it probably isn't, because lawyers who charge $350 to $500 per hour will be relieved of doing very time-consuming work in the areas that they are unqualified to do. Then, the allied professionals who know what they are doing in their area of expertise will competently complete that work at a much lower rate.

You can read the Collaborative Law Statute here.

Contact a Houston Attorney for Collaborative Divorce Law

If you are contemplating divorce and feel that collaborative law may work for your situation, contact me for more information. As a Houston, Texas collaborative law attorney, my services are available in Houston, Harris County, and all surrounding areas.