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The Collaborative process is based upon 3 principles

  1. No Court - Clients and their lawyers agree contractually that no one will take any contested issue to court. This allows the couple and their attorneys to focus all their energies on settling their case without the fear of being called to a hearing if they disagree.
  2. Transparent Process - All information is shared, so parties can make informed decisions. There is no need for depositions or other formal forms of information gathering, because the clients and attorneys agree contractually in the "participation agreement" (signed at the first joint meeting) to provide all relevant information to the other side, whether it is requested or not.
  3. Interest-based Negotiation  - The "interests" of the husband, wife, and children drive the settlement talks. Traditional, litigated cases rely on positional bargaining. Interest-based negotiation gets to the heart of why someone wants something. Instead of "I want the house" the parents realize that what someone is really saying is "I want the children to stay in the same school district" or whatever the real root interest is for that parent.

Along with the parties and their respective attorneys (both must be represented), most cases also have a financial neutral to gather and make sense of the financial information and a communications coach to keep discussions at the meetings productive and forward-looking. At first blush, that may sound expensive, but most parties have found it makes more sense to have the single financial neutral (at their hourly rate) compile the information than it does to have attorneys do that. Similarly, the communications coach can save a lot of time by keeping discussions productive.

The collaborative approach allows parties to make proactive, creative, customized solutions that are tailor-made for their unique family situation. The fact that each meeting has an agenda creates a safe environment for discussion and negotiation. Minutes of each meeting are also kept so parties remember homework items, agreements, and see their progress toward resolution.

For people who see the value in maintaining a positive relationship for the sake of their children, the collaborative process seems to be a natural choice. The collaborative process does not guarantee a "conflict-free" resolution, but it can give you tools that will help your family transition to a healthy new beginning.

For more information about the collaborative process, please click on the link below for the Collaborative Divorce Texas, of which I am a member.  You can find more information at the link to Collaborative Divorce Austin, of which I am a founding member and treasurer.

By using the Collaborative process, I help people facing divorce to do so with dignity, privacy, and control over their financial destiny, while preserving important relationships with children and extended family.
- Leslie Dolliver