Collaborative Divorce is a legal process designed to help the participants involved in family disputes productively resolve their issues related to property division, financial support, and the future parenting of their children. It focuses on moving families from disagreement to resolution efficiently, with as little financial and emotional damage as possible, while securing an agreement that addresses their common and individual interests, needs, desires, concerns and fears. The parties to the dispute voluntarily commit from the beginning to resolve their issues without going to court. Instead, with the guidance of their lawyers and other neutral professionals (who, with the lawyers, comprise the “collaborative team”), they participate in interest-based negotiations in the privacy of office settings. They agree to voluntarily disclose and exchange all information necessary for each party to make informed decisions.
The goal of the collaborative divorce process is a less emotionally destructive and more dignified resolution of disputes. Participants agree to:
- Communicate honestly
- Focus on important future concerns instead of the past
- Minimize disruption to the children
- Discuss issues only in private conference settings
- Negotiate in an environment and on a timetable agreed upon by the parties
- Be willing to consider all options for property division, support and parenting arrangements
- Arrive at a final settlement out of court
Central to the concept of Collaborative Divorce
Central to the concept of Collaborative Divorce in Texas is the “collaborative team.” This involves the association of neutral professionals with specific areas of expertise who work with the clients and their attorneys in the negotiation process. The neutrality of these professionals allows them to assist and educate both clients so that each client gains the knowledge required to make informed decisions on every issue. They provide valuable insight and advice, and facilitate a cooperative working relationship. The collaborative team’s core membership is typically comprised of the divorcing parties, their respective attorneys, a neutral financial professional, and a neutral mental health professional. Other neutral collaborative team members may be added, depending on the issues in that particular case.
The collaborative divorce process is appropriate for divorcing spouses, previously divorced spouses who encounter additional issues related to the parenting of their children, and unmarried couples who seek to separate their property and reach agreements for parenting their children. It can also be used by couples planning to marry who wish to enter into pre-marital contracts.