What is Collaborative Divorce in Texas?
There are several ways to get a divorce in Texas and they differ in how they impact your future co-parenting relationships, your relationships with your children, your emotional health, and your financial health. Collaborative divorce is one way to move through the divorce process while working to maintain the relationships you’ll need for successful co-parenting and preserving your emotional and financial health. Attorney Vonda Covington is trained in collaborative divorce in Texas, and she can advise you about whether collaborative divorce might be a good option for you.
This is Vonda talking about collaborative divorce in Texas.
Summary of What Is Collaborative Divorce in Texas
Hi, I’m Vonda Covington, I’m a family law attorney in Richmond Texas. I just wanted to explain to you about collaborative divorce in Texas, which is also known as collaborative law.
In a nutshell, the parties agree in advance not to fight each other in court. They each hire attorneys who are trained in collaborative divorce law and those two attorneys, one representing one spouse and one representing the other spouse, then choose other people to be on the collaborative team.
Usually in collaborative divorce in Texas, we have a neutral mental health professional and we also have a neutral financial professional on our collaborative team.
The Mental Health Professional in Collaborative Divorce
The role of the mental health professional is twofold. That person helps with the communications around the conference table, which at times can become a little uncomfortable and the mental health professionals really do a good job of helping us get past any kind of communication problem where people are getting emotional, very often with just a couple of questions. Sometimes they’ll ask us to break. They’re responsible for keeping the communication flowing and keeping it going in the right direction.
The other thing that the mental health professional does is, if we have children in the marriage, and we’re having to decide some parenting issues, they meet with the parents offline and help them work out a parenting agreement which involves all of the rights and duties, what the parenting times are going to be, and whether or not there’s going to be child support. All of those things they put together and then they come back into the collaborative meeting with the parenting plan.
The Financial Professional in Collaborative Divorce
The financial professional helps the parties gather all the information about their marital estates. They help value the different assets in the marital estate and then they meet with the parties, often separately, to go over what their long-term goals are and what their concerns are and to come up with options.
Once the financial professional comes up with a lot of options, they bring those options for propery divsion back into the collaborative setting and we will work on those things.
The Collaborative Divorce Team Works Together
So we’ve basically got a collaborative team of four professionals, an attorney for each party, and a mental health professional and a financial professional. There are a series of settlement conferences that are very structured that this collaborative divorce team attends with the parties.
We talk about long-term goals, we talk about what information needs to be gathered, we gather that information, we develop options and then we pick and choose among the options, eliminating a bunch of them, tweaking a few and we come up with a settlement.
Objections to Collaborative Divorce in Texas
I want to address the fact that a lot of people say,”Oh, we’ve got all these professionals. That’s going to be way too expensive.” The reality is, what you’re doing a lot of times in collaborative divorce is working separately with these professionals at a lower hourly rate than the attorneys charge and the other thing that happens is, because we do have these professionals, we’re able to remain more focused and we get resolutions more quickly.
So even though it costs more to have professionals on an hourly basis, it may cost less overall. It provides an opportunity for actually saving some money during the process. Usually when we get settlements, we get settlements that are very individualized, very customized, and usually really help the parties a whole lot better than what we get in typical litigation.
I just want to address one other issue about collaborative divorce in Texas. I hear this objection a lot, mostly from other attorneys who don’t practice it and that’s, “If we don’t reach a settlement, the attorney has to withdraw and send the case to a litigation attorney.”
That’s really not a problem. That hasn’t been a problem for me for a couple of reasons. One is, most of these cases settle. It’s an extremely, extremely powerful format that we impose on the settlement conferences and it really works. So that doesn’t happen very often.
Even if it does happen, a lot times we’ve been able to reach partial agreements on certain issues and we’ve also been through the discovery process of producing documents, getting all the documents that we request in litigation, and so we save the money on the discovery process which is much cheaper in collaborative divorce law.
We can limit the number of issues that need to be tried, sometimes it’s just right down to credit card debt, or something like that, and then you go try that one issue and you have an agreement for everything else.
So in my not so humble opinion, collaborative divorce should be the first option if you’re not able to reach an agreement without assistance. Collaborative divorce in Texas is a much more powerful, much more effective way to get divorced I think than even litigation.
Thinking About Collaborative Divorce in Texas?
Call (281) 503-7373 for an appointment with Collaborative Divorce Attorney Vonda Covington. She can help you decide if collaborative divorce is the best option for your situation and your goals. You can also arrange an appointment with Vonda by sending us an email through our contact form.