FAQs

How is Collaborative Law different from litigation?

In a litigated family law case, one party serves the other party with legal documents. This begins a lawsuit which may involve a series of legal steps and hearings. It can become highly adversarial and the conflicts can take a tremendous toll on the parties (and their children).


The use of Collaborative Law to resolve the matter is a non-adversarial approach. It brings the parties, their lawyers, and other professionals together to work in good faith toward a settlement out of court. The court is not involved while the parties negotiate (with the help of their lawyers) a mutually acceptable written resolution of all issues to submit to the court as an agreed order.



Is Collaborative Law for you?

If you would like a civilized, respectful, and private resolution of your issues, then the answer is "yes"! The Collaborative Law process allows the parties to work together, rather than posture as adversaries. It is designed to ensure that each party has accurate information, sound legal advice and support, and a safe environment in which to make decisions. It is also designed to help you keep open the possibility of a respectful working relationship with the other party after the process is completed.



How is Information Exchanged and Disclosed?

The clients and their lawyers commit in the Participation Agreement to disclose information voluntarily and also to verify it with independent documentation as requested by the clients.


The use of Collaborative Law to resolve the matter is a non-adversarial approach. It brings the parties, their lawyers, and other professionals together to work in good faith toward a settlement out of court. The court is not involved while the parties negotiate (with the help of their lawyers) a mutually acceptable written resolution of all issues to submit to the court as an agreed order.



What if my spouse has already filed a court action? Can we still choose Collaborative Law?

Yes. The lawyers for you and your spouse can file a notice with the court that you are using the Collaborative Law process and the case will not be placed on the court's litigation docket.



Why does an attorney withdraw if an agreement is not reached?

The Texas Family Code requires that attorneys involved in a collaborative case withdraw from representation of their respective clients if an agreement cannot be reached and one party elects to "opt out" of the process. While this provision may seem extreme, it actually helps preserve the integrity of the process, because it focuses everyone on settlement, rather than posturing for trial. The attorneys become as invested in a successful outcome as their clients, because they will no longer be on the case if it goes to litigation. The requirement also promotes the feeling of safety during the process. It fosters transparency because the clients know that the Collaborative Lawyers won't be adversarial to them in a courtroom if the case moves to litigation.



How does the cost compare to litigation?

Divorce and other family law disputes are costly. Our experience handling collaborative cases and facts collected by American Lawyer support that these cases tend to be less costly than litigation cases. The clients have a greater ability to control costs because everything that is done requires their mutual agreement.



Why are lawyers choosing to practice Collaborative Law?

Experienced family lawyers have seen the futility of revenge tactics and futile arguing. They have seen the emotional and financial destruction resulting from the adversarial process. We want to be a part of the solution and not a part of the problem, and Collaborative Law has provided an avenue for that. We enjoy assisting our clients to find solutions that are more focused on meeting their actual needs.



How are different opinions of the value of an asset resolved?

One technique frequently utilized in the collaborative process is for the parties to engage a skilled neutral expert to provide an opinion. The expert is retained jointly. This is a refreshing alternative to the litigation model, in which each side gets their "hired gun" to testify and the court has to decide.



Why can't we just sit down and work it out?

This is an option for you. However, most clients have tried this before they consulted with a lawyer and it was not successful. They have turned to Collaborative Law as an alternate option. Collaborative Law is a process and that process is what makes it successful, and, in turn, reaps benefits for the participants and their children. Participants learn as a part of Collaborative Law. Learning communications skills, defining obtainable goals, and learning about their assets and liabilities all play a part in Collaborative Law, which provides benefits beyond the resolution and granting of a divorce.



Why is it important to choose a lawyer who is certified in family law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, rated "A/V" by Martindale Hubbell, and highly trained in Collaborative Law?

Almost everyone knows that the skill level of the lawyer you choose affects your outcome. You want to hire a lawyer who (a) has specialized knowledge of family law of Texas; (b) is respected for ethical behavior,; and (c) is skilled in Collaborative Law. But, how is a client to know? Each of our members has been board certified as a specialist in family law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. To sit for this exam, the lawyer must have completed a requisite number of a variety of legal cases involving family law. This is to ensure that the lawyer has a breadth of experience. Then, less than 50% of those tested score high enough on the test to receive the honor of calling themselves board certified in family law. So, you can be assured that if you hire a lawyer who is board certified in family law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, you have a lawyer who has specialized knowledge of family law in Texas. Martindale Hubbell, a nationwide organization which assesses each submitting memberís knowledge of the law and ethical standards as reported in secret ballots by lawyers who have done cases with the submitting member and by judges who have presided over cases in which the submitting member is involved. The highest rating that a member lawyer can be given for knowledge of the law is an ìAî and the highest rating that a member lawyer can be given for ethical standards is a ìV.î Each of the members of our group have been given an ìA/Vî rating as exemplifying the highest knowledge of the law and the highest ethical standards. Finally, the members of the Dallas Alliance of Collaborative Family Lawyers have received and given hundreds of hours of education in Collaborative Law. Our group has a self-imposed continuing education requirement, and we meet regularly to work on improving our skill set for the benefit of our clients.



Top 10 reasons for choosing Collaborative Law?

  1. Privacy – In Collaborative Law your case is conducted in private sessions.
  2. Maintaining a sense of control – You make the decisions that control your case without courts or juries making the ultimate decisions, but with the assistance of an effective settlement advocate and support from the rest of the team.
  3. Potential for financial savings – Collaborative Law provides a situation where participants share expert costs and proceed in a cooperative manner, which opens the door to cost savings.
  4. The feeling of cooperation – The sense of working together with the attorneys in a team approach provides participants with a greater level of satisfaction with their ultimate resolution.
  5. Scheduling – Participants in Collaborative Law set their pace with much greater latitude than parties in litigation. The Court cannot impose typical deadlines on your case.
  6. Speed of final resolution – Collaborative Law participants control the speed and pace of their resolution to suit their needs.
  7. Communication – In Collaborative Law participants learn to communicate in meaningful ways which can carry over to post-divorce situations.
  8. The lessening of stress and emotional trauma – The Collaborative Law process progresses in a way which allows the participants to avoid traditional pitfalls of divorce and work in positive, rather than negative, ways. Everything in the process is transparent so the process is very safe. This element protects both the adults and the children.
  9. Actual Conflict Resolutions – The collaborative process addresses real goals and situations, which results in workable long-term solutions.
  10. Maintaining Relationships – The entire collaborative process creates an atmosphere with much greater potential for maintaining a working relationship with former spouses and the many friends, family, and bystanders who become embroiled in traditional divorce litigation.

"It's the sense of control that is so much better in Collaborative Law. Instead of lawyers and judges being in control, the control remains very firmly with the husband and wife."
The Dallas Morning News, September 2002

Dallas Alliance of Collaborative Family Lawyers, whose members are located in Dallas and Collin Counties.

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