The decision to end a marriage is often difficult, as, in many instances, a couple will decide to divorce despite the fact that they have affection and respect for one another. In such cases, they may be able to dissolve their marriage in a peaceful and discrete manner, by engaging in the collaborative divorce process. While there are many benefits to collaborative divorces, they are not appropriate in all cases, and parties should carefully weigh the pros and cons of the collaborative process before choosing how to proceed. If you have questions about collaborative divorce, it is wise to meet with an attorney to discuss your case. The skillful Dallas divorce attorneys of McClure Law Group can advise you of your rights and aid you in choosing the most suitable way to dissolve your marriage in consideration of the facts of your case.The Collaborative Divorce Process
The Texas Family Code (the “Code”) expressly permits and encourages collaborative family-law processes. The Texas courts cannot compel parties to engage in the collaborative family-law process, however. Instead, they must choose to engage in the process voluntarily. Essentially, the collaborative divorce process lets a divorcing couple resolve issues in their own timeframe without involving the courts. While they may choose to retain experts like financial consultants and estate-planning professionals, it is not required. Like other alternative dispute resolution methods, collaborative divorce proceedings are confidential.
Pursuant to the Code, a collaborative divorce begins when the parties sign a participation agreement that indicates their intent to engage in the collaborative process and defines the scope and nature of their family-law matter. The agreement must also name the collaborative attorney representing each party in the process and include provisions for suspending intervention from the courts while the collaborative process is pending. The agreement must also state that, unless agreed to otherwise in writing, any experts, advisors, or professionals will be jointly engaged by the parties and serve in a neutral capacity.
The collaborative divorce process will conclude when all or part of the matter is resolved, as indicated by a signed record, or the process is terminated. Either party can terminate the process at any time, with or without cause. The proceedings will also be terminated if either party institutes a dissolution proceeding, or a collaborative lawyer withdraws or is discharged, and the party the lawyer represented fails to retain a new attorney within 30 days.
If the parties are able to resolve some or all of their issues, their attorneys will draft a settlement agreement, which will be submitted to the court. The court will enter judgment on the agreement as long as it is signed by both parties and conspicuously states that it is not subject to revocation. Agreements developed through the collaborative divorce process are enforceable in the same manner as any other written contract.When Collaborative Divorce May Not Be Appropriate
Collaborative divorces allow parties to end their marriages while potentially minimizing legal fees or and without worrying about interference from the courts, but they are not suitable for everyone. Collaborative divorce may not be an appropriate option in cases involving domestic violence or substance abuse. It may also be unsuitable in cases in which the parties have vastly different assets. Further, even if there are no significant issues that would prevent a couple from engaging in the collaborative divorce process, if their relationship is contentious, the process may be futile.Speak to an Experienced Dallas Lawyer
If you want to learn more about collaborative divorce, it is prudent to speak to an attorney. The experienced Dallas lawyers of McClure Law Group are proficient at helping people protect their interests in divorce proceedings, and, if we represent you, we will advocate zealously on your behalf. Our primary office is in Dallas, and we regularly meet clients for consultations at our Collin-County office in Plano. We help parties dissolve their marriages in Dallas, Rockwall, Fort Worth, Frisco, Irving, McKinney, Richardson, and Garland. We also represent people in family-law matters in cities in Dallas, Rockwall, Collin, Denton, Tarrant, and Grayson Counties. You can reach us by calling 214.692.8200 or via our online form to schedule a confidential meeting.