AREA OF PRACTICE
What is it?
Colloaborative law is a method of going through a divorce or other legal proceeding in a way designed to help clients work together and to minimize conflict. It was developed as an alternative to the frequently harmful effects of litigation on families. In the Collaborative Process, each client has an attorney trained to work within the method, and most cases also have a neutral mental health professional and a neutral financial advisor. The clients sign an agreement at the beginning of the case that they will settle. In the rare instances settlement is not possible and a party wants to go to court, none of the professionals from the collaborative proceedings, including the attorneys, are permitted to participate in the litigation.
Why do I like it?
I like it because it works. Parents in the Collaborative Process often get along BETTER at the end of their divorce than at the beginning. They may not "like" each other, or be "in love," but they will work together to raise great kids. Their friends don't need to "pick sides." Sometimes litigation is necessary, but it always damages the coparenting relationship.
The Collaborative Process also puts the power in the hands of the parties. Think of the gavel in the hands of a judge. That's how litigation is designed: to be like a hammer. A judge will decide, after only a few hours to explain a complex situation, how to bust things up. It'll do, but it's not usually carefully tailored. Families need a scalpel to separate, not a hammer. They can tailor to their individual needs and desires.
In some ways, the Collaborative Process is like a mediation. You reach settlement. But in this mediation, instead of deciding your entire future in one day, you do it in a series of meetings. At those meetings, you have professionals to guide you.
When do I not like Collaborative Law?
Sometimes the Collaborative Process is not appropriate. If there is a victim/abuser dynamic in the relationship, it can be difficult to find a way to proceed that feels safe. Sometimes the other party is unwilling to come to the table and will only listen to a judge. Sometimes the children are in danger and need a court order for their protection. Circumstances like these are all ones in which litigation is more appropriate. There are times when a person needs to stand up and fight. In a consultation, we will discuss whether or not Collaborative Law is appropriate for your situation and whether it is an option you would like to pursue.
How can I learn more?
Catherine is a member of both Collaborative Divorce Texas and Collaborative Divorce Austin. You can find more information about the process and other practicing professionals at: