Collaborative Divorce Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is Collaborative Divorce?
Collaborative divorce is a path to reaching agreements in a divorce case. We use a team of trained professionals to help the divorcing couple decide how to divide their property and how they will parent their children after the divorce. For more information about how collaborative divorce works, select Why Choose Collaborative Divorce and see below.
2. In a collaborative divorce, will I still have a lawyer who really represents my interests?
Yes. In a collaborative divorce, each spouse has his and her own lawyer. Collaborative divorce attorneys are trained to represent their clients’ interests within the collaborative divorce process.
3. What is the cost of a collaborative divorce?
Costs can vary just as with any other legal case and you should discuss costs with your attorney. The costs will depend on how complicated the issues are and how long it takes for the parties to reach an agreement. We can’t know the exact cost for any specific case but we know that a collaborative divorce almost always costs less than going to trial. Staying out of the courtroom is your best chance to control costs. We also know that the agreements you reach in a collaborative divorce are likely to be better for your family.
4. How long will my collaborative divorce take?
There are certain time requirements for any divorce. For example, under Texas law there is a minimum 60 day waiting period between the time you file for divorce and the date you can get divorced but few cases are finished that quickly. Timing of your collaborative divorce depends on the needs of your family. Some couples elect a slower approach to allow for interim counseling, adjustment of the children and addressing financial concerns. Other couples elect to move more quickly. Again, you and your spouse have more control of the timing in a collaborative divorce.
5. I want a collaborative divorce, but what about my spouse?
Both you and your spouse must agree to the collaborative divorce process. Your collaborative lawyer can suggest it to your spouse or spouse’s attorney. If you and your spouse are discussing a divorce, ask your spouse to research collaborative divorce. Ask that he or she talk to an attorney trained in collaborative divorce. Let an attorney explain the benefits of the process and this will help your spouse understand all of the options. A list [LINK TO MEMBER ATTORNEYS] of local attorneys trained in collaborative divorce is available on this website.
6. What should I expect as my case proceeds?
Once you and your spouse have hired your collaborative attorneys, you and your attorneys will choose the other team members—a mental health professional and a financial professional. If it has not already been filed, your divorce case will be filed in court but the court will not be involved until the very end. You will schedule and attend meetings to identify and resolve the issues in your case. Some meetings will involve the entire team and others will be with individual team members. When all agreements are reached, a document called a Final Decree of Divorce will be prepared that contains all the agreements. At the very end of the case, that document will be presented to and signed by a Judge and you will be divorced.
7. Is it possible to keep the details of my case private?
Yes. One of the advantages of a collaborative divorce is that your privacy will be protected. In a traditional divorce, the courtroom is open to the public anyone can watch court proceedings. In a collaborative divorce, the meetings are private and the details of your family’s personal lives are not aired in public.
8. What if my spouse and I cannot reach an agreement?
Your collaborative divorce attorney has several tools to help you reach agreements. However, if you and your spouse cannot reach an agreement, either or both of you may decide to quit the collaborative process and go to court. When that happens, your collaborative divorce attorney will help you find a trial lawyer. While most collaborative lawyers are also trial lawyers, they are not allowed to represent a client in both a collaborative divorce and a traditional litigation divorce. Your collaborative lawyer will give your new lawyer all appropriate documents and information. Most of the information you collected in your collaborative divorce, such as a detailed list of your property, can be used in your traditional divorce to save time and money.
9. Can I use collaborative law for a case other than a divorce?
Yes. Collaborative law can be used in just about any kind of legal case. All of the benefits of collaborative divorce also apply to non-divorce cases such as custody, visitation, support, paternity, modifications of orders and even enforcement of orders.
10. What if my spouse does not want a collaborative divorce? Can I still hire one of the attorneys listed on this website to represent me?
Yes. All of the collaborative attorneys listed [link to page] on this website maintain private law practices and are experienced litigators in family law cases.