Divorce is notorious for being a messy and emotional process. Many couples in Texas fight bitterly over assets and parenting matters. They spend weeks preparing for court and hours presenting their side of the situation to a family law judge. Those efforts often have less of a return on the time and money invested than people would like.
Generally speaking, judges in Texas presiding over litigated divorces have limits imposed on their discretion by state law. They must divide community property in accordance with statutes and their understanding of the marital estate. They must make decisions about the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities based on what they believe would be best for the children.
Those fighting intensely during divorce often aim for unachievable outcomes, and they may waste their money while doing so. Collaborative divorce is an alternative to litigation that some couples decide to employ. What does the collaborative divorce process in Texas generally require?
Both spouses have to agree to a collaborative divorce for it to work. It is not possible for one spouse to force the other to sit down and cooperate with them. Often, spouses sign an agreement when they begin collaborative divorce negotiations indicating that they will continue to work together until they resolve their current disagreements. A mutual willingness to resolve matters quickly and retain control over the outcome of divorce is typically necessary for collaborative divorce proceedings to work for Texas couples.
Separate legal representation
Some people think that cooperating means sharing one lawyer. However, an attorney should always act in the best interests of their clients. One lawyer cannot reasonably prioritize the best interests of both spouses simultaneously. Personal bias and other factors will inevitably compromise the quality of representation provided to one of the two spouses. Therefore, both spouses generally need to have their own attorneys as they pursue a collaborative divorce.
A written agreement
The agreement signed at the beginning of collaborative divorce proceedings simply holds spouses to their promise to cooperate with one another. They will need to reach an agreement through collaborative proceedings that they can put into writing. A successful collaborative divorce usually culminates in a signed agreement regarding property division and any parenting matters that couples can present to the courts. Without a signed agreement, those who attempt collaborative divorce could end up litigating matters anyway.
A willingness to work together and to focus on the big picture are also crucial elements for successful collaborative divorce negotiations. Considering alternatives to litigated divorce may benefit those preparing for the end of a marriage in Texas who are committed to retaining control over the process.