Frequently Asked Questions About Collaborative Divorce

1. How do I know if collaborative divorce is right for me?

Collaborative divorce is a completely voluntary process. Neither party can force the other party to use the process, nor can any court require the parties to use the process. When you consult with a lawyer regarding a divorce or other family law issue, talk to your lawyer about collaborative divorce and whether it would be a good option for your case.

2. How much will a collaborative divorce cost?

It is impossible to predict how much any divorce will cost. Every lawyer has his or her own fees and retainer policies, and you should address your specific concerns about the cost and payment policies with your lawyer.

3. How do I find a collaborative lawyer?

  • To find collaborative lawyers and other collaborative professionals in Texas, visit the Collaborative Law Institute of Texas website:  www.collaborativedivorcetexas.com.
  • To find collaborative lawyers and other collaborative professionals in the Dallas and Collin County areas, visit the Collaborative Divorce Dallas website: www.collaborativedivorcedallas.net.
  • To find collaborative lawyers throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe, visit the International Academy of Collaborative Practitioners’ website: www.collaborativepractice.com.

4. What is the difference between collaborative divorce and mediation?

Collaborative divorce and mediation both utilize interest-based negotiation and provide the parties an opportunity to work to resolve their dispute confidentially. There are, however, significant difference between mediation and collaborative divorce, such as:

  • Mediation typically occurs after the parties have incurred significant time and expense in the litigation process, including hearings and discovery; by contrast, collaborative divorce starts as soon as the parties agree to begin the process, often before anything is even filed with the court.
  • In collaborative divorce, everyone is in the same room together, whereas in mediation, the parties and attorneys are typically in separate rooms and the mediator travels back and forth between rooms to consult with each side.
  • In collaborative divorce, there are typically at least 3 joint sessions, whereas mediation typically occurs in one long day.
  • In collaborative divorce, the parties agree to full disclosure – the parties agree from the beginning not to withhold important information.
  • In collaborative divorce, there is no pressure to resolve the case in one session – the process moves as fast or slow as the parties require.
  • Joint sessions typically last 2 hours, whereas mediation typically lasts at least 4 hours, and may last as long as 8-12 hours.
  • Joint sessions can stop at any time if anyone feels that the process is moving too quickly or if more time is needed to gather documents or information.

5.  I don’t trust my spouse. Should I still try collaborative divorce?

It is very common, if not expected, that people going through divorce do not trust their spouses. The Expectations of Conduct and Collaborative Participation Agreements require that the parties be truthful throughout the collaborative divorce process, not just with their attorneys, but with every member of the Collaborative Team. There are safeguards built into the collaborative divorce process to account for the lack of trust between the parties. Talk to your lawyer about any concerns you have about collaborative divorce to be sure that it is the right choice for you.

6. I am afraid of my spouse. Should I still try collaborative divorce?

It is imperative that every person feel safe during the collaborative divorce process. If you have concerns about your safety, talk to your lawyer about accommodations that can be made to help you feel more secure. For example, if you are afraid to be in the same room with your spouse, ask your lawyer if you can be in a separate room during some or all of the joint sessions. You may also want to meet individually with the Neutral Mental Health Professional (“MHP”) to help articulate your concerns to the rest of the Team. Your attorney or MHP will be able to direct you to appropriate counseling or social services if you need additional help.