Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Should I Use Collaborative Law in an Uncontested Divorce?

First, we need to understand what an "Uncontested Divorce" really is.  There are two common definitions which reflect different points of view.

 A party to the divorce may say that the spouses have agreed to have an uncontested divorce. That usually means that the parties both want, or at least will agree, to be divorced.  Very often, though, there is no agreement on the terms of the divorce.

For a lawyer, an uncontested divorce is one where the parties both agree to be divorced and they agree on all the terms of the divorce.  That means that they have agreed on custody, child support, visitation, property division, payment of debts, the possibility of spousal support or not,  tax issues and any other matters.  If any of those issues have not been agreed upon, it is not an uncontested divorce, according to the lawyers.

The Answer:

If your situation is the second example and everything already is agreed, you don't really need to use the Collaborative process.  If all terms have already been worked out, then you don't need to spend the money on a team of professionals to go over the agreement.  

On the other hand, if one or more of the issues remain in negotiation, then it may be worthwhile to use Collaborative Law.  If you both want to get divorced, but can't agree on some issues, that's a good situation for the use of Collaborative Law.

Alternative Situation:

If one person wants the divorce and the other doesn't, Collaborative Law may be a very good means to work things out.  Keep in mind that if one person wants a divorce and the other party doesn't, eventually a court will grant the divorce. Collaborative Law would be a good alternative because it is less destructive than litigation on family relationships and it can lead to mutually agreeable solutions.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

How to Get Information about Fort Worth Collaborative Lawyers

Let's say you have heard a little about Collaborative Law and you want to find out more because you are about to start on a divorce.  If you live or work in Fort Worth, Texas, you may want to find a Collaborative lawyer in or near Fort Worth to talk with. 

Most people find family lawyers by getting a referral from a friend, relative, lawyer or other professional, or by searching on the Internet, or by both methods.

One of the questions you will need to answer is whether location is important to you.  Most people don't want someone far away from where they live or work, but location is not always a big consideration.  

In Collaborative cases, we have a series of joint meetings as we work through a case.  The meetings often alternate between the two attorneys' offices, but I have also had cases where most of the meetings have occurred in just one of the attorneys' office or in the neutral financial professional's office. We tend to use the location that is most convenient for our clients.  That means that location is not always a big factor, although it is something to consider.

So, how do you find a Collaborative attorney for your case?  Location is one issue. Recommendations are very important.  Information on qualifications and experience that is available online is important.  But ultimately, your chemistry with the attorney is probably the most important factor. 

You need to meet with the attorney in person and talk strategy, experience, communication, and any issues that are really important to you.   Information about the other factors may get you in the door of the attorney's office, but chemistry determines whether you stay.  Your attorney needs to really understand your objectives and needs.  Be leery of an attorney who starts to take over the case and tell you what you want and need.

Chemistry is also an important factor for both the attorney as well.  Like many other attorneys, I don't take on representation of just everyone who comes in.  That would be a disservice to the client.  The attorney needs to feel a connection, just like the client needs the connection, trust and confidence with the attorney's ability to handle the case in an appropriate way. 

If you are hiring an attorney, be sure you feel right about the choice and don't just settle for what others have told you to do.  You will be much better in the long run.