What is Collaborative Law?

Collaborative law is a different way to resolve disputes, it removes cases from the litigious court room setting in order to identify and solve problems. The goal is to reach a win-win outcome versus a win-loose approach we see in most court cases.

In a true collaborative law setting, every party still retains their separate attorney. It is the attorney’s job to help each party to settle the dispute, however no one is allowed to go to court. If at any time during the collaborative process a court becomes involved, the collaborative law process effectively terminates, and both attorneys no longer may represent either party.

What makes the collaborative law process so different from litigation?

Collaborative law:

  1. empowers you to resolve your legal disputes without judges, magistrates or other strangers making decisions for you.
  2. provides you with specially trained Collaborative lawyers, mental health and financial professionals to educate, support and guide you in reaching balanced, respectful and most importantly lasting agreements.
  3. offers you a safe and dignified environment to reduce the conflict and minimize its impact on you, your family and in particular your children.

How does the Collaborative law process work?

The Collaborative law process acknowledges that there is an emotional side to every case, it also recognizes that this is something that a court process can not address, as it was never created to deal with this. The Collaborative law process on the other hand does address these issues, its goal is to uncover the non-legal side of disputes and resolve them by the use of professionals. Some examples of professionals who might be involved in this process are: mental health counselors/ coaches for each party, neutral financial advisors, accountants, parenting specialists, child specialists, vocational experts, and appraisers. While in non-collaborative settings these professionals are each hired independently by each party, the collaborative law process requires all parties to share these professionals and share in the costs related to hiring them.

The Collaborative law process starts when each party agrees to sign a collaborative law contract, this contract includes the following terms:

  1. No Court
    • Neither party is allowed to go to court or threaten that they will take the matter to court. If this happens, all attorneys need to withdraw and the process will start all over but with different attorneys in a court setting.
  2. Complete Disclosure
    • Each party agrees to be 100% honest and open. This means that each party will freely share all documents and infomration relating to the issues of their case. No one is allowed to take advantage of errors or omissions.
  3. Win-Win Attitude
    • The main goal is to work towards an amicable solution, one where everyone wins, and everyone will be motivated towards creating lasting results that will benefit everyone affected.
  4. Respect
    • All parties agree to act respectfully towards each other. There is no disparaging or villifying of any participants.
  5. Minimizing Impact on Children (in Divorce cases)
    • The goal of a Collaborative Divorce is to minimize the impact on children. This is not only seen in ongoing cooperation with regards to visitation, but also in social events such as birthdays, graduation, marriage, birth of grandchildren or other family occasions.

Texas divorce statistics state that 95% of all divorce cases eventually settle. In most cases this means that a divorce case which entered the court system, after usually a year or so, and after many public and hurtful statements a settlement is reach. At this point in time, most bridges will be burned, parties are no longer talking and any children will suffer the consequences of parental discourse. The sad reality is that most parents, even after the divorce is finalized, will remain in court fighting over visitation, childsupport and other issues.

Wouldn’t it make more sense to find a way that is less public, less adversary and more geared towards finding long lasting solutions? Solutions where children have both parents in their lives, where there is no need to choose who will attend their major life events, or dread of what will happen at the next family occasion?

We at GP Schoemakers, PLLC believe that collaborative law is one of the options that divorcing couples should look at, especially if they have children. It not only keeps the divorce process outside of the public eye and the court system, it is focussed on long lasting results. It is absolutely true that Collaborative law is not right for everyone, some people just like to fight. However when there are two willing participants who want to go through the collaborative process, a Collaborative Divorce can create a speedier solution at a fraction of the cost normally associated with a litigious divorce.

If you want to know about Collaborative Law or are looking for a Collaborative Divorce Attorney, we can help. Give us a call today to schedule your initial consultation, you will be glad you called!

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