5 Things Spouses Should Know About Collaborative Divorce

Mar 2 2023 - Posted by , in Collaborative Law, Divorce

Collaborative divorce is an interest-based approach for spouses who are ready to end their marriage and embark on life’s next chapter. In a collaborative divorce, the spouses do not go to court but rather work together—and alongside subject-matter experts as necessary—to reach an amicable resolution.

While pursuing a collaborative divorce can afford several benefits, it isn’t right for all couples. With that said, as you contemplate your divorce, it is important not to write off any options too soon. Getting divorced requires informed decision-making, and this starts with deciding how you will approach the divorce process.

Important Facts About Collaborative Divorce in Texas

With this in mind, what should you know about collaborative divorce? Here are 5 important facts for couples in Texas:

1. A Collaborative Divorce Starts with a Written Agreement

When pursuing a collaborative divorce, the first step is for the spouses to enter into a written agreement that confirms their commitment to the process which includes not going to court. This agreement will establish some basic ground rules, and it will explain what will happen in the event that either spouse chooses to back out of his or her commitment (more on this below). Entering into a written agreement ensures that both spouses approach the process with appropriate expectations, and it lays the groundwork for amicable and good-faith discussions going forward.  If the parties are unable to reach an agreement using the collaborative divorce process, then the attorneys are required to withdraw from representing their respective clients, and the clients are required to hire new attorneys to represent them in the divorce.

2. A Collaborative Divorce Involves . . . Collaboration (Parties Decide the Outcome-Not a Judge)

A collaborative divorce truly is a collaborative process. It requires collaboration between the spouses, the spouses’ divorce lawyers, and any experts they choose to engage along the way. Rather than a fight over “who gets what,” a collaborative divorce is intended to ensure that each spouse makes reasonable compromises based on a clear understanding of all relevant information.  The parties decide the outcome-not a judge. Many times couples end up in court with a judge making a final decision on their property and children, only to end up with both parties being unsatisfied with the court’s decision.

Collaboration is required for high-net-worth estates as well as more simple estates in order for the collaborative process to work efficiently.  When dealing with children’s issues, collaboration is also key to reaching an agreement that is in the children’s best interest. Sometimes even adult children’s needs are considered in the divorce process. Every couple’s situation is as different as a fingerprint. The goal of a collaborative divorce is to reach an agreement that is customized to each couple’s situation which works best for them.  Conversely, a court of law does not have the time to craft a ruling considering the current and future needs of the parties, which makes collaborative law a great option for appropriate cases.

3. Each Spouse Needs His or Her Own Divorce Lawyer

Even though a collaborative divorce is an open, honest and good-faith process, it is still important for each spouse to have his or her own divorce lawyer. There are several reasons why. Among them, each spouse needs to make informed decisions based on a clear understanding of how Texas law applies to their family and financial circumstances, and a lawyer who is providing joint representation will be limited in the advice he or she can provide.

4. The Spouses Can Jointly Select Other Experts to Help Them

Along with engaging legal counsel, spouses who are pursuing a collaborative divorce can also engage other experts as necessary. For example, during the collaborative divorce process, it is fairly common for the spouses to engage financial planners, valuation experts, family counselors, and child psychologists. There are no requirements here—spouses can simply enlist the help of relevant experts when they need it—and they can work with their lawyers to jointly select experts who will provide unbiased opinions.

5. The Spouses Set Their Own Schedule

Another key feature of collaborative divorce is that the spouses can set their own schedules. They can schedule sessions around their other commitments, and they are not beholden to the court’s typical docket schedule for a divorce.  The Texas courts will allow for an extended period of time to finalize a collaborative divorce compared to a traditional divorce. As a result, in the vast majority of cases, pursuing a collaborative divorce both provides more flexibility and reduces the overall duration of the divorce process.

Talk to Attorney Christine K. Lincoln About Pursuing a Collaborative Divorce

Do you have questions about pursuing a collaborative divorce in Texas? If so, we encourage you to get in touch. To schedule a confidential consultation with attorney Christine K. Lincoln, please call 281-970-9005 or send us a message online today.

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