Houston Collaborative Law Article

Collaborative Law in Texas

CONTESTED CASES: ALTERNATIVES TO COSTLY LITIGATION IN CONTESTED CASES

HOUSTON COLLABORATIVE LAW

An area on the cutting edge of Family Law in Texas is Collaborative Law. In a Collaborative Law arrangement, both spouses and/or parties in a case and their respective lawyers agree in a contract to use their best efforts and make a good faith attempt to resolve their case without judicial intervention. Instead of the normal adversarial approach with expensive legal maneuverings, the parties use a team approach in attempting to resolve all of the issues in a manner that is best for everyone. Instead of leaving the unresolved issues in the hands of an elected official (Judge) or a jury, the parties control their own destiny.

The parties begin by identifying their respective goals, values, and interests in order to define the key issues to be resolved. Next all pertinent information and documents are shared and exchanged freely between the parties in order to carefully analyze all of the unresolved issues. Finally all potential options for resolution are developed, discussed, debated and negotiated. All of the consequences of each option for resolution are fully investigated. The Goal is for the parties to transition themselves from beginning to the end in an efficient and effective manner.

Advantages of Collaborative Law

  • Eliminating the aspect of litigation creates numerous advantages that are extremely important to the majority of family law clients.
  • The parties work together privately to meet their individual needs and resolve the issues. The private details both negative and positive remain confidential by virtue of not becoming part of a public record.
  • Money is saved. Instead of paying lawyers to bill hourly while researching case law, tendering and responding to discovery, arguing discovery disputes and taking depositions etc., the funds are put to immediate use for the sole purpose of settling the outstanding issues.
  • The conflict is minimized. The nature of litigation requires the parties to assume a win at all cost stance. The result is high conflict, high stress, and an all around miserable experience. By eliminating the litigation the conflict that occurs between the parties is minimized. Much of the stress is minimized. This minimization of the conflict and stress allows the parties to maintain their dignity.
  • The lawyers help to focus the parties on a positive solution to benefit all family members. The parties engage in problem solving and negotiating in a cooperative and amicable manner. In this process the parties will learn to problem solve with each other in a manner that will help them avoid litigation for years in the future when problems will inevitably arise.
  • Peace is kept throughout the case. This is especially a great benefit if children are involved.
  • Expediency. Collaborative Law is also a potentially quicker resolution as the process can begin immediately rather than waiting for a court date. Normally the quickest Court date will be at least one month after the filing of the petition.

Contact Donald E. Robinowitz today to learn how I can help your case. If you are looking for a more comfortable situation in which to resolve your divorce, custody, or other family law issue, I can educate you in how collaborative law works and what it can do for your situation.

MEDIATION

Mediation, also referred to as Alternative Dispute Resolution (A.D.R.,) is a process in which a trained third party mediator is involved in the resolution of your family law case. The Mediator is normally an experienced Family Law practitioner that is highly familiar with both the applicable laws and the local Judges and their tendencies. The mediator encourages both sides to discuss the defined problem areas and work together to find mutually acceptable solutions. It is an opportunity for parties to communicate and resolve claims in a neutral, open, safe and friendly setting.

In most Texas courts, some form of alternative dispute resolution is required in each and every family law case. Please call my offices if you would like to discuss the mediation process in a more thorough fashion. I can help you understand mediation and how it may affect your family law case.

As a final note, Texas legislation that took effect September 1, 2005, now requires mediation when a party files a Petition to Modify a current order. Although Mediation does not always result in a resolution to the case, it can be an effective and efficient way to address your issues.

HIRING ONE ATTORNEY IN HOUSTON

In the current economic environment, clients are forced to be more resourceful with their available income. In 10-15% of my current cases I am being approached by a potential client who explains to me that he/she and the opposing party (normally, but not always the spouse) only want to hire one attorney in order to save money. I have had a great deal of success with families in this situation saving clients a great deal of income. If the issues in the case are already agreed upon and thus uncontested, then this is a relatively simple process. If, however, all of the issues in the case are not yet resolved, then this is a very delicate situation that must be treated very carefully. I have some fundamental ground rules that I follow while trying to help parties resolve their issues in this contested situation. The rules are as follows:

  • I can only represent one party and that is the party that has approached me;
  • The opposing party has to verify that they understand that they are not represented by me and that I have recommended that they retain counsel
  • The opposing party must verify that they have chosen after careful consideration not to retain counsel
  • I explain to my client that in the event I meet with both parties to negotiate the issues and the issues are not resolved, and therefore the case is a contested matter, that I will not be able to represent my client in that contested matter
  • I explain to my client that I will not engage in any deceit or trickery in this situation and that all issues will have to be thoroughly explained and agreed upon by both parties.

If you think that this situation might apply to you and that I might be able to assist your family, please call me to further discuss.

For sophisticated representation and personalized service in a difficult period of your life, contact a proven divorce lawyer at 888-587-9098. We offer a free initial consultation, including evenings, weekends, and early mornings by appointment, and can work with you on an affordable payment plan. We offer services in Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Hebrew, and other languages. SeHabla Español