Collaborative Law History
One alternative to traditional, court litigated divorces is collaborative law. Collaborative law was invented in 1990 in Minnesota in an effort to find less destructive methods of divorce. Texas adopted collaborative law in 2000. The Texas Family Code states “It is the policy of this state to encourage the peaceable resolution of disputes.”
Divorcing parties should consider the possibility of collaborative law. Collaborative law divorces offer many benefits that traditional divorces don’t.
Collaborative Law Pros
First, divorcing parties in traditional divorce proceedings are subject to a judge’s ruling. To persuade the judge to rule in their favor, both parties paint the opposing party in the least favorable light. Not only is this system highly confrontational, neither party can directly determine the outcome. Collaborative law, on the other hand, allows the divorcing parties to negotiate their outcome. This method focuses on the interests of both parties and does so in a less adversarial fashion.
Second, traditional divorce proceedings aren’t concerned with the parties’ financial and emotional needs. Besides hiring attorneys, collaborative law encourages the involvement of neutral financial and mental health professionals.
Third, collaborative law keeps couples out of court. This means that information is more private and scheduling meetings is more flexible.
Fourth, collaborative divorces can be less expensive.
Collaborative Law Cons
First, if the collaborative process fails then both divorcing parties must hire new attorneys. The collaborative process fails when an attorney fires a client, when a client fires an attorney, or when one party abandons collaborative divorce for a litigated divorce.
Second, collaborative law is not appropriate in cases of domestic violence, mental illness, or substance abuse.
The Collaborative Law Institute of Texas
The Collaborative Law Institute of Texas is the premier association of professionals who advocate the practice of collaborative law. The mission of the Institute is to “create a culture in which collaborative law is the prevailing process for the resolution of family law matters.” Their website seeks to educate the public about the benefits of collaborative law, and provides names of local legal, financial, and mental health professionals who practice collaborative law. Bill McNamara is a member of the Collaborative Law Institute of Texas.
One excellent collaborative law mental health professional in Lubbock is Ray Holt Brown, PhD PsyD.