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Collaborative Law in Texas

As a follow-up to our Dec. 5 post, we will now go into more detail on collaborative law itself. A collaborative process of separation in Texas is a non-adversarial, voluntary, and structured process that is overseen by an impartial third party, commonly known as the mediator. Collaborative law ensures that parties can resolve their differences through mutual negotiations without the burden of a binding ruling by a judge or arbitrator.

Collaborative law is a process based on teamwork, cooperation, integrity, civility and honesty between the parties. It is also less time-consuming and less expensive as compared with other separation processes.

The Texas Uniform Collaborative Law Act requires parties to enter into an officially recorded agreement of participation, which must be signed by both parties before the collaborative process even begins. Section 161.101 of the Act lays down the requirements for the agreement of participation. More specifically, the agreement must state that the parties intend to reach a resolution of the dispute through the process laid down in the Act. It also states that the nature of the dispute must be contained in the agreement, along with confirmation of the names of the respective lawyers who are representing the parties.

Section 161.102 of the Act determines how and when the process will begin and end. It says that the signing of the agreement by both parties marks the beginning of the collaborative process and explicitly mentions that either party is free to terminate the process at any point in time without providing a reason for doing so.

When a resolution has been reached regarding all or part of the existing legal issues, a signed agreement may formally conclude the process. However, there are several other ways to conclude the process, which include filing certain pleadings with the court, starting a court proceeding, serving notice on the other party that the process has ended, starting an adjudicatory process and withdrawing from or discharging the collaborative process.