Houston Collaborative Divorce Attorneys
Finding Cost Effective Solutions in Informal Settlements
Going to divorce court means turning over control of critical pieces of your life. A judge will have the ability to make enforceable decisions about who gets custody of your children, who will assume ownership of what property, and how much you are expected to pay your former partner in spousal support (or vice versa). They are more than likely going to make some decisions that will not satisfy either party. Luckily, there is an alternative.
Collaborative divorce allows families to negotiate a settlement on their own terms. Both parties and their legal representatives work together to negotiate and resolve points of contention with limited to no involvement from the court system.
Our Houston collaborative divorce lawyers at Myres & Associates PLLC can help you explore this alternative settlement method and advocate for your interests during the proceeding. Founding attorney Susan Myres is a champion of this cost-efficient means of conflict resolution and has over 30 years of experience assisting families in reaching divorce settlements.
Why Choose Collaborative Divorce?
If there are numerous disputes that initially seem insurmountable as you evaluate the elements of a potential settlement, you may wonder whether it makes since to consider alternative settlement methods in the first place. After all, traditional divorce litigation does not depend on you and your former partner agreeing: A judge will review the case, hear legal arguments, and make binding decisions.
Though going through the courts may make sense for some separations, collaborative divorce can be extremely beneficial to all parties. When properly executed, a collaborative divorce offers participants more privacy, cost efficiency, control, and civility than what they might expect in going through divorce litigation.
Collaborative divorce confers the following advantages:
- Privacy. A typical courtroom divorce proceeding is a matter of public record. Any motions, statements, and lists of assets can potentially be accessed by third parties. Hearings and the trials themselves are also typically open to the public. The matters discussed and decided in a collaborative divorce are entirely confidential, with the court only receiving the most pertinent information needed to finalize the separation. Any third parties that assist with the collaborative divorce are held to the same privacy standards as each participant’s legal team.
- Adaptable Timeline. When you seek to litigate a divorce in court, you will have limited to no control over when your case is heard. Your court may face a tremendous backlog, delaying your initial hearings for many months and prolonging the process. Because collaborative divorce takes place outside the courtroom, you, your ex-spouse, and your respective legal teams can coordinate on when you wish to conduct the process. Because there are no limits to the number of sessions, a collaborative divorce can also be as lengthy or as brief as necessary.
- Control. In going to court, you hand over final decision-making abilities to the judge hearing your case. This judge will likely not personally know you, meaning much of their perception will be colored by the efficacy of each party’s legal team. They may well make decisions that do not satisfy either partner in a divorce, but you will both be legally obligated to abide by their ruling. In collaborative divorce, you and your former partner retain complete control over the final agreement until you are both satisfied with the terms. Until an agreement is signed, you have the ability to walk away.
- Cost Efficiency. Going to court can be prohibitively expensive, especially for complex cases where numerous factors will need to be argued in front of a judge. An efficient collaborative divorce can greatly reduce the overall costs in reaching a settlement.
- A Family-Focused Approach. The reality is that, after a divorce, two parents will still need to be part of each other’s lives. They will still need to work together to do what is best for their children. Collaborative divorce supports this mindset by encouraging participants to find common ground and compromise. The result is a process that is less hostile and aggressive than litigation.
The Collaborative Divorce Process
As its name would imply, collaborative divorce is about working together to reach an agreeable settlement instead of going to court. The process emphasizes compromise and mutual understanding versus “fighting” to “win” in litigation. Both sides will typically retain legal representation to help facilitate the process and ensure each party’s interests are protected in a final agreement.
Collaborative divorce begins with establishing the initial goals for each party and the motivating reasons for those goals. This is called the initial settlement offer. In many cases, it is beneficial to keep these offers grounded and to proactively consider the expectations of your former partner. Our Houston collaborative divorce attorneys can work with you to shape an initial settlement offering that is both likely to be productive and consistent with your goals.
Once both sides have shared their initial settlement offerings, each party and their legal team will work to find common ground and areas of compromise. The ultimate goal is to develop a plan that is a “win-win” for both partners. Legal representatives can help identify and negotiate contentious areas and work toward potential solutions that satisfy everyone involved.
A collaborative divorce has no set timeline and can go on as long as both parties deem necessary. It may take more than one day or session to reach an agreement, especially for more complicated situations with numerous assets, children, and other moving parts.
After both parties have agreed to decisions involving the division of assets, debts, support, and custody of children, a settlement can be drafted and signed. This settlement is legally enforceable in the same way a litigation settlement would be, but you and your ex-spouse have collective control over its terms. There will be minimal interaction with the court system throughout this process, and your legal teams can file the appropriate paperwork to finalize the divorce once a settlement has been reached.
You are also not obligated to continue with the collaborative divorce process if it is not proving effective. Either party can walk away from a collaborative divorce at any point, and there is no requirement that a settlement be reached. If collaborative divorce is abandoned, a family can consider other alternative settlement methods, including mediation and arbitration, or choose to pursue traditional litigation, if necessary.
Your Partner in Collaborative Divorce
Collaborative divorce and other alternative settlement methods are still relatively new areas of family law in Texas, meaning many attorneys have limited to no experience in facilitating the process. Our Houston collaborative divorce lawyers at Myres & Associates PLLC have helped numerous families successfully navigate sessions, and our founding attorney is a member of Collaborative Divorce Texas. Our firm can work with you leverage the benefits of this approach and efficiently form a settlement that will help your family move forward.
Support Network of Experienced Professionals
We work with a national and international network to help provide industry-leading support during and after your case, ranging from forensic accountants to specialized counseling coaches.
Collaborative, Team-Based Approach
When you work with any of our attorneys, you get the experience, knowledge, and support of our entire team. We're all by your side.
Experienced In & Out of the Courtroom
We will do our best to achieve an amicable settlement out of court. If additional litigation is needed, we are right there ready to go.
Fully Invested in Your Case
We care about the outcome and well-being of your family as much as you do. We will do everything to protect your best interests.