- March 2
- Evans & Herlihy
- Family Law
Divorce is an emotionally stressful experience for spouses who want to end their marriage, but sometimes it can be a process where the stress is minimal. When both spouses can get along well enough to cooperate with each other, they can benefit from engaging in a collaborative divorce. A collaborative divorce is one where the spouses are able to negotiate the terms of the settlement, child custody agreements, and spousal support without getting overly upset or seeking to hurt the other spouse during the divorce process.
It’s a wise idea to retain a divorce lawyer even when both spouses are congenial about ending their marriage. A divorce lawyer provides guidance for their client and makes sure that their client’s interests are protected throughout the negotiation process. They also make sure that the division of assets is done equitably and that nothing gets overlooked before the agreement is signed. Another advantage to retaining a lawyer for divorce is that the lawyer can keep an eye out for signs that the opposing spouse may decide to change their mind and become uncooperative, changing the direction of a collaborative divorce.
So, does collaborative divorce work? It relies on both parties’ making a good-faith effort to negotiate and come to agreements they can accept in order to bring the marriage to a close. The following is a look at collaborative divorce and a general idea of what to expect from the process.
What is Collaborative Divorce?
A collaborative divorce is one where both spouses agree to work together on the dissolution of their marriage in an amicable fashion. They work with their lawyers to go over the assets they’ve collected during their marriage, arrange a child custody agreement that’s in the best interests of everyone, and come to an agreement for alimony. All of this is done with minimal emotional stress because the spouses aren’t fighting over every detail of who gets what once the divorce is finalized.
Is collaborative divorce a good idea, especially in light of Texas divorce laws and the need for a settlement agreement? If the both of you are able to keep your emotions from overwhelming you, and you’re both willing to stay civil, know what you want to take with you from the marriage, and are willing to compromise, yes, a collaborative divorce is a good idea.
How Does Collaborative Divorce Work?
The process of collaborative divorce is the same as it is for any divorce. A typical divorce process looks like this:
- File a divorce petition with the court
- Request temporary court orders if necessary
- Serve spouse with a copy of the divorce petition
- Negotiate a settlement over matters such as support, child custody, and division of property
- Go to court to ask for help with the settlement if necessary
- Ask the court for an order of dissolution of marriage once all issues are resolved.
Some of these steps are necessary due to the fact that getting divorced is a legal process that requires a judge to preside over. However, if both parties are amicable, neither spouse will need to ask the court for help with the settlement.
The key to a collaborative divorce is the negotiation process. As a general rule, the divorce court encourages both spouses to come to an agreement on the division of assets prior to asking the court to finalize the divorce. Texas is a community property state, which means all assets and debts acquired during the marriage are split 50/50 during the divorce. It’s not always feasible or possible to split assets directly down the middle, and this is why it’s important to retain a divorce attorney for the negotiation process.
Spouses who are amicable with each other and are in agreement as to the division of assets have an easier time negotiating a divorce settlement through their lawyers. The goal of a collaborative divorce is for both parties to get what they want in the settlement, within reason. It may happen, however, that the collaborative divorce doesn’t work because one or both spouses change their minds, or emotions take over and make it difficult to act rationally.
What Happens if Collaborative Divorce Doesn’t Work Out?
There’s always the potential for a collaborative divorce to turn into a contentious divorce. This is another reason why it’s important for both spouses to retain a divorce lawyer. Your spouse may decide that they don’t want to cooperate at some point during the divorce process. So, what if collaborative divorce doesn’t work? What do you do then?
The divorce status goes from collaborative to contested, and the attorneys change their negotiation process accordingly. The state of Texas is a no-fault divorce state, which means neither spouse has to show fault in order to get a dissolution of marriage. However, if one spouse is being uncooperative with the settlement negotiations, the other spouse can ask the court to intervene and create a settlement for both parties. Asking the court for help with the settlement process should be avoided, if at all possible, due to the fact that the court has to follow state laws on the division of assets and needs to take a dispassionate approach as a result.
Are There Advantages to Collaborative Divorce?
You may be asking “What are the advantages of collaborative divorce?” especially if you’re dealing with the emotional fallout of the end of the marriage. There are many advantages to collaborative divorce, especially when both partners are ready to end a marriage that’s not working out. It’s not unusual for both spouses to work better as friends than as partners, and a collaborative divorce is a good idea in these circumstances.
Another situation where collaborative divorce is advantageous is when a marriage is clearly over, both spouses have moved forward with their lives apart from one another, and both recognize the need to dissolve the marriage contract. At this point, both spouses have most likely taken what they want in terms of assets, are supporting themselves, and there’s not a lot of negotiation needed for an equitable exit to the marriage.
Is Collaborative Divorce Expensive?
A collaborative divorce is usually less expensive than the average divorce due to the fact that both spouses are cooperative. Less time is spent on each aspect of the divorce, which translates into lower overall costs. While it’s not always feasible to get a fixed price for a divorce, you can ask a divorce attorney for an idea of the cost.
Get in Touch With Us at Evans & Herlihy for Help With a Collaborative Divorce
We at Evans & Herlihy understand the emotions that come with getting divorced, no matter how well both spouses get along. We’re here to help you navigate the process, protect your rights, and negotiate an equitable settlement on your behalf. Call us at (512) 732-2727 to set up a consultation with our divorce attorneys to learn more about the process and other issues affected by divorce.