When many Texas residents think of divorce, they may imagine spouses battling it out in the courtroom, like something from a movie or television. While our entertainment doesn’t always give us an accurate picture of the legal system, it’s true that some divorces end up in court. However, there are alternatives to traditional courtroom litigation. Not only can couples figure out ways to amicably settle divorce cases through negotiation, they can also make use of collaborative law and mediation.
Collaborative divorce is the name for an approach to dissolving a marriage that differs in a number of ways from traditional litigation. While traditional courtroom divorce is adversarial, with the two parties fighting for what they want, a divorce that follows the collaborative model is more about trying to resolve differences by finding common ground. It isn’t the best approach for everyone, but it can be valuable in many divorces.
A divorce following collaborative principles can play out in different ways. One way involves negotiation, in which both parties sit with their attorneys and try to settle all their divorce issues without having to appear before a judge. Another method is mediation. Mediation is similar to negotiation, but involves a neutral third party who participates in the negotiation, helping both parties reach a solution.
In the end, both negotiation and mediation strive toward a written agreement that a divorcing couple can bring before a judge and get approved. In both cases, it will eventually become a binding court order if approved by a judge.
Collaborative divorce may be particularly valuable for divorcing couples who have children, as the ex-spouses will have to continue to work with each other in the future over child custody and child support issues. By avoiding the adversarial nature of traditional litigation, the parties can help avoid some of the lingering resentment that often makes post-divorce parenting difficult.