Opting for a collaborative approach to family law

Collaborative family law in Texas is designed to facilitate peaceable management of disputes in divorce situations. Using a voluntary settlement process, couples may be able to arrive at mutually agreeable terms without the need for adjudication by the court system. A collaborative process begins with the parties involved signing a collaborative participation agreement that states their intent to seek resolutions by this method.

A collaborative family law agreement should clearly describe the matter under consideration, identifying each party’s lawyer to be involved in the process. Provisions should be made to suspend court activity while the collaborative process is active.

A collaborative process must be approached voluntarily. A party to an action may not be forced to seek a collaborative resolution against their objection. Upon reaching an acceptable resolution to which both parties agree, the matter can be recorded and concluded. If some aspects of the matter won’t be successfully resolved, the process may be concluded with an indication of the issues that are successfully resolved, leaving remaining matters for court adjudication. Either party may also terminate the process by giving notice that no aspects of the matter have been resolved. An individual does not need to give cause for termination of the collaborative approach. Either party may request that part or all of a collaborative matter be resolved in court. If a collaborative agreement is successfully reached, the agreement can be enforced in case of noncompliance.

As parents consider a collaborative resolution to a dispute, there may be concerns that there will be pressure to accept solutions with which they don’t agree. However, effective legal representation can be helpful for maintaining balance through the process. A family law attorney can assess the pros and cons of various issues as decisions are made about accepting terms or terminating the collaborative approach in lieu of court adjudication of the matter.

Source: Texas constitution and statutes, “ FAMILY CODE“, November 17, 2014