Sunday, June 15, 2014

Flexible Timing

In addition to other advantages of Collaborative Law, one that is not discussed as much is the ability to have flexibility with the timing.

Collaborative divorces are bound by the basic time limits in the Family Code.  In order to file for divorce, one of the parties must have lived in the county of filing for the last 90 days and the State of Texas for at least 6 months.  In addition, there is a 60-day waiting period, beginning on the filing date, before the divorce can be finalized; that is not an automatic end date, just the minimum time the papers have to be on file before the divorce can be granted.

How is Collaborative Law more flexible? It goes back to who controls the case.

The case can move very quickly, once the 60-day waiting period is up, if both parties are ready and both want to move quickly.  The parties decide how quickly they want to move.They don't have to wait on court hearings.

On the other hand, the case can move very slowly for any number of reasons, if the parties want it.
  • There may be health issues that require waiting.  
  • It may take a while to get the finances figured out. 
  • The parties may need to wait for one or both to get a job.  
  • More education or training may be needed.  
  • There may be some kid issues that take time to resolve.
If both parties are ready and want to speed up, they can in Collaborative Law.  If one or both parties need to slow down, that can also be arranged.  If the parties were in Litigation, they would not control the timing.  Very often a scheduling order is done fairly early in the process, and that will override the wishes of the parties.

If you have special timing needs, visit with a Collaborative Lawyer and find out if your case would benefit from using the Collaborative process.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

A Kinder Way to Divorce

Contrary to popular images, not everyone going through a divorce wants to make a big fight of it.  Actually, there are many people who want a low-key, "nice" divorce, without a lot of fighting.  The ideal situation is when both parties want a peaceful divorce.  That actually occurs more often than you might expect.

Of course, there are still plenty of people who want to duke it out in court.  I know lots of combative attorneys I can refer them to.  Unfortunately, the "fighters" don't realize, until too late, that having a big divorce battle usually means greatly increased costs and a long, drawn-out proceeding.  At least the attorneys come out in good shape, unless the clients run out of money.

For those who want a less-destructive way of getting divorced, there's another way to divorce:  Collaborative Law.  Here's why:

1.  We use a neutral mental health professional (MHP) in Texas in most cases. The MHP is mainly a communication coach who helps the husband and wife learn to communicate better.  That includes learning to listen effectively, choosing words carefully and being respectful to each other, among other things.  The MHP runs most of the meetings we have and I have seen a number of situations where the MHP saved the day by noticing a problem and helping the parties be more effective and less offensive toward each other.

2.  We also use a neutral financial professional (FP) to gather, organize and help interpret financial information for the parties.  The FP leads the discussions on the finances and helps both parties make informed decisions that help them meet their goals. Both parties are more comfortable being able to rely on a knowledgeable and neutral expert to explain the situation and help them evaluate options for settlement.

3.  The attorneys work together, while still representing separate clients, to make sure final agreements can be made.  We avoid ugly court hearings, testimony and cross examination in court and depositions.  The attorneys don't stir the pot with incendiary pleadings and arguments. We are all working for peaceful solutions that match the clients' needs.

If would be nice if everyone acted like reasonable adults during divorces, but that will never happen.  If you are interested in that type atmosphere, you should consider trying Collaborative Law.  You  should find a trained Collaborative Lawyer and discuss whether it would be appropriate in your case.  Good luck!