Saturday, September 6, 2008

Do We Have to Sign a Participation Agreement?

Simple Answer: For the case to be considered a Collaborative Law case, a participation agreement must be signed by the parties and the attorneys.

What is it? The agreement sets out in very clear language how the process works, explains confidentiality, discusses the use of neutral experts and explains the requirement for the attorneys to withdraw in the event the process breaks down. The agreement also discusses the responsibility and commitment to open and honest cooperation between the parties, including the sharing of relevant information. Also included is an explanation of how, why and when the process could end. It is a comprehensive agreement which is intended to educate and reinforce, as well as commit the parties to the process.

Why must it be signed? It is required to be signed by the Texas statute that established Collaborative Law as part of our legal system. Part of the definition in the statute includes a requirement of having a signed written participation agreement.

What is the Rules of Conduct? Most Texas agreements also include the Rules of Conduct which operates like an injunction in a traditional litigated case. The Rules place restrictions and limitations on the parties to a case. The restrictions are intended to protect both parties and to avoid damage or loss to assets in the community estate. The Rules are usually imposed to maintain the status quo regarding the property and assets of the parties until an agreement is reached.

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