Collaborative law is a relatively new legal method that was established as an alternative to traditional divorce proceedings. Though collaborative law is popular in other parts of the country, it's still in its infancy in Texas. In Collaborative Law, you and your San Antonio divorce lawyer meet with your spouse and his or her divorce attorney to amicably negotiate a mutually agreed-on arrangement.
If you cannot successfully reach an agreement, the legal process requires that you discharge your collaborative attorney and hire a new divorce attorney before proceeding with the litigation aspect of your case. This gives the San Atonio divorce lawyers on both sides every incentive to work toward a successful collaboration.
The collaborative divorce process begins with both parties and their collaborative law attorneys signing a collaborative law agreement. The agreement acknowledges several elements which are unique to a collaborative case. These may include all or some of the elements explained below.
Both parties commit to settle their case without the threat of court intervention. They agree to provide full, honest, and open disclosure of all information; as well as any releases necessary to obtain information, requested or not. The parties enter into informal discussions with the intentions of settling all issues.
Both parties acknowledge that there is no guarantee of success and that the process cannot eliminate the irreconcilable differences which led to divorce. There is an understanding that each party will act in their own best interest with the assistance of their attorney.
Both parties agree to protect the privacy and dignity of everyone involved in the process. Each spouse promises they will maintain a high standard of integrity at all times; and will never take advantage of the other participants.
Both parties agree to jointly retain the services of outside experts such as appraisers, accountants, and family counselors, if they are needed. Every expert will be instructed to work in a cooperative effort and will equally provide their conclusions to both parties.
Both parties consent to the involvement of another collaborative attorney to act as a mentor if suggested by their San Antonio divorce attorneys. If everyone agrees, the mentor's job is to assist the parties by providing suggestions on how to settle an issue which is at an impasse. The mentor will also be bound by the collaborative law agreement.
Both parties promise to make every effort to reach amicable solutions that promote the children's best interest. They agree to promote a caring, loving, and involved relationship between the children and both parents; and will refrain from any negative comments about the other parent.
Both parties acknowledge that they are expected to take reasoned positions in all disputes, and will use their best efforts to meet the needs of both parties. They commit to refrain from using threats of going to court as a way to force settlement.
Both parties understand that they are allowed to select their San Antonio divorce attorneys who will represent their respective client, and recognize their divorce attorneys are entitled to reasonable compensation. The attorneys will provide an organized framework that will assist the spouses in reaching agreements.
Both parties consent to their San Antonio divorce attorney withdrawing from the case upon learning that either spouse withheld or intentionally misrepresented information.
Both parties acknowledge the representation of their San Antonio divorce lawyer is limited to the collaborative law process. In the event that court is necessary, both divorce attorneys must withdraw from the case. All experts will be disqualified as witnesses as well as any information obtained.
Both parties understand that temporary orders may be needed to proceed with safety and security while permanent agreements are entered.
Both parties agree that settlement discussions any documents exchanged can not be used as evidence in resulting litigation.
Termination of Collaborative Law Process
Both parties understand they have the right to terminate the process at any time and seek the assistance of the court.
If you are considering a collaborative approach to settling your divorce, your San Antonio divorce lawyer can help you learn more about this option. For many people facing the dissolution of their marriage, collaborative divorce is often preferable to going to trial, which can be time-consuming, expensive, and emotionally unsettling.
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Higdon, Hardy & Zuflacht, L.L.P.
12000 Huebner Road Ste. 200 San Antonio, Texas 78230
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