Married people in the Houston, Texas area who are contemplating a divorce or who have already decided to get a divorce should know there are different ways to handle the matter. A standard divorce that may end up in court, drag out for long periods of time, and cost thousands and thousands of dollars is no longer the only means by which a marriage can be ended.

In recent years, more people have sought out alternatives to this standard divorce process. With the shattered relationships that commonly result from this method, moving forward and co-parenting is made harder than it needs to be. Collaborative divorce helps couples avoid court and maintain better relationships post-divorce.

What is a collaborative divorce?

Simply put, collaborative divorce is a process in which both spouses work together in a collaborative way to achieve a mutually agreeable end to their marriage. This form of divorce was allowed in Texas in 2001 and became uniform with the enactment of the Uniform Collaborative Law Act.

In a collaborative divorce, each spouse retains separate legal representation. Both sides enter into an agreement indicating their willingness to keep their divorce out of court and seek the most positive settlement possible. Each lawyer is required to first review the case to determine the viability of collaborative divorce for the couple. There may be some situations in which it is not ideal such as when violence, alcohol abuse, addiction or mental health issues are involved. Connolly & Shireman offer in-depth experience in dealing with such issues and can help you make a determination about collaborative divorce if your marriage is affected by them.

How does a collaborative divorce differ from mediation?

There are distinct differences between mediation and collaborative divorce. For starters, a mediator does not have to be a lawyer, which can open up the possibility of some legal issues not being properly addressed. Either spouse can hire an attorney to review a settlement, however.

Mediation is also done in a one-time meeting, while collaborative divorce allows couples to meet several times in order to adequately reach a settlement. If a settlement cannot be reached for any reason, the attorneys involved are barred from representing their clients in any resulting proceedings. In this way, people are assured that their collaborative divorce attorneys are focused on reaching the desired outcome, and won’t intentionally or unintentionally guide them into a court battle if the collaborative process fails. Mediation can be included in collaborative divorce proceedings.

How to learn more

When a divorce is impending, Houston spouses are encouraged to call a family law attorney with experience in collaborative divorce. Getting the facts about how it works from someone who has gone through the process is always a good idea.

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