Of all the negative aspects of your divorce, maybe the most consequential is its impact on your children. No matter what their ages, kids hate it when their parents fight. Sadly, fighting is just what you and your spouse can look forward to in a traditional litigated divorce. But it does not have to be like that. In Texas, divorcing couples can choose a more amicable and cooperative option called a collaborative divorce.
A collaborative divorce begins just like a traditional divorce. You and your spouse each hire an attorney. But the similarities end there. Instead of the two attorneys seeing themselves as bitter adversaries slugging it out in court, they see themselves as negotiation facilitators. Who are the negotiators? You and your spouse.
How the process works
The purpose of a collaborative divorce is for you and your spouse to resolve your own differences in a peaceful, respectful and cooperative manner akin to mediation while giving you the advantage of having your own attorney alongside you to protect your interests. After you and your spouse each meet privately with your respective attorneys to lay out your issues, concerns and fears, the four of you begin meeting en masse for purposes of negotiation and collaboration.
How many meetings ultimately take place depends on the number and complexity of your issues, plus how far apart you and your spouse are on them in the beginning. Typical issues include the following:
- Child custody, support and visitation
- Spousal support
- Marital property division
- If applicable, continuation or sale of your family business or professional practice
If you are a high-asset couple, you may wish to jointly hire such neutral professionals as a business evaluator and/or asset appraiser.
Resolution and rewards
Once you and your spouse arrive at mutually agreeable compromises of all your issues, your attorneys reduce your agreements to writing, you both sign them, and your attorneys present them to the judge. Neither of you may have to step foot inside a courthouse.
In the meantime, your children have watched you both, despite your differences, working together in a mutually respectful and reasonably harmonious manner. Now they will watch you both continue to respect each other while you live up to the agreements you made. This is a powerful lesson for your children taught by the best role models they possibly could have: the parents they love.