05 May 2012

Are you going through a divorce or considering a divorce? If so, you should be aware of the options available to resolve the issues that surround divorce. Recently, Texas passed a law that provides an alternative to the traditional courtdivorce process. This new process is known as collaborative law.

How is collaborative law different? Collaborative law uses a team of experts to solve conflicts that arise often in family law, such as child custody, visitation, property division and divorce.in a divorce. It is a voluntary process, which may be discontinued at anytime. Central to the collaborative law approach is an agreement by both parties to work together in good faith to reach a divorce settlement. Part of this agreement is that both parties share information with the other side when requested. Responses must be thorough and provided in a timely manner. Only information relevant under the agreement needs to be disclosed. If a party decides to quit the collaborative law process, information disclosed in the process usually cannot be used in court. The requirement of disclosure and the fact that answers are confidential if a party decides to discontinue this process provides an incentive for open and honest communication, in hopes of finding the best possible solution for both parties.

While both sides still have attorneys in the collaborative law approach, the parties use neutral experts that act as a team. These experts work to find solutions that are in the best interests of both parties, instead of each side recruiting separate experts to argue in court in an attempt to gain the upper hand. The use of neutral experts can help reduce coststhe cost of a divorce, as only one set is needed and usually for less time. Experts may include financial professionals to help resolve financial issues, as well as mental health professionals to ensure the non-financial needs of the parties are addressed and that both parties are given a voice in the process. Other experts may be used as needed to handle specific issues that may be unique to the situation.

Finally, in addition to the potential for reducing the cost of divorcecosts, the collaborative law process seeks to provide a more satisfying and efficient method for those going through divorcedifficult legal battles. This can be especially important to a couplewhen with children are involved as because even when a divorce is over most likely both parents will need to have a continue a working relationship for the best interests of their children.

Pamela J. Thompson would like to thank Uriel Tuck for his insight in drafting this article.