What is a “Collaborative Divorce”?

If you are currently involved in a divorce case – or think you may be soon – you may have heard about something called “collaborative divorce.” If you’re like most people, you don’t know what it means but, because it’s vitally important for you to understand the various ways in which your divorce can be concluded, it’s important to you to know something about collaborative divorce.
Collaborative divorce hasn’t been around very long – about twenty-five years – and it stems from the fact that the vast majority of most divorce cases never have to go to a final trial in front of a judge or jury. Instead, most people in most divorce cases ultimately reach an agreement to bring their case to a conclusion. Often, however, this occurs only after a lot of time and money have been spent not to speak of the emotional toll taken on the spouses and their children.

Collaborative divorce grew out of the two very basic ways to bring divorce cases to a conclusion – the first is by means of litigation (trial) which means the parties have disagreements which have to be settled by a judge who imposes his or her result on the parties and their case. Or, a case can be concluded by an agreement in which the parties themselves decide how to bring their case – and their marriage – to an end.

Since the vast majority of cases don’t go to final trial but settle, a family lawyer once asked this simple question: wouldn’t it make sense to treat divorce cases as if they’re going to settle from Day One rather than treating them as if they’re going to have to go to trial? The answer was “yes,” and so was born collaborative divorce in which the spouses and their lawyers work together, from the beginning, to bring the case to a conclusion dictated by the parties, not the attorneys or the judge.

Collaborative divorce is a new and effective tool to assist people in bringing their marriages to a dignified, private, and mutually agreed upon conclusion that is almost always less costly and time consuming than going to a final trial. Collaborative divorce permits the spouses to control the outcome of their divorce case and it only moves as fast as they wish to proceed. They choose not only the outcome but the speed of the process of getting divorced.
Collaborative law isn’t for everyone but if it sounds like something you’d be interested in then check it out. Some good resources are the websites of the Denton County Collaborative Professionals and the Collaborative Law Institute of Texas. It’s also important for you to hire an attorney who has training and experience in Collaborative Divorce. Your spouse will also need an attorney like that.

Lewis, Passons & Darnell, P.C.

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