Divorce Without Disaster - What Is Collaborative Law and Why Use It?

This is the third post of a serialization of Janet P. Brumley's book, Divorce Without Disaster. This post is Chapter 1, part 1 of the book.

Every divorce begins with a love story and ends in disappointment. A man and a woman are overcome by sadness and hurt. They have feelings of misplaced trust. They often regret the years they feel were lost and mourn for a future they won’t have together. If children are involved, the hurt is magnified by feelings of guilt.

How sad that we make the situation worse by the divorce process itself. There is every reason to make the situation better by using a process that is healing and restorative rather than destructive and alienating.

Parties to divorce in Texas often use the legal system as a means of getting even for real or imagined wrongs committed during the marriage. Revenge is popular. The community estate and the children of the marriage are often destroyed as a byproduct of a hazy bit of temporary insanity that seems to grip people when they surrender themselves to the power of the court system.

A decade ago, judges and attorneys tried to mitigate the effects of family law litigation by insisting in as many jurisdictions as possible that parties submit to mediation before going to court. This form of alternative dispute resolution is either required or strongly encouraged in most big-city family courts in Texas, and that has helped. But sometimes mediation is just a way station en route to the courthouse. What the system needed was a method of marital dissolution that opted people out of the court system entirely.

Texas Divorces Involve Two Different Rulebooks

Today, the Texas legal system handles divorces under one of two different sets of rules:

(1) The traditional method begins with filing, then moves to discovery, temporary orders, hearings and attempted alternative dispute resolution, or mediation. This entire process is controlled from the courthouse, under the Rules of Civil Procedure, and is referred to as litigation.

(2) The non-traditional method occurs outside the courthouse and the Rules of Civil Procedure, and is handled in a private forum known as collaborative law.

- Janet P. Brumley

Prior posts:

Divorce Without Disaster - Collaborative Law - About the Author
Divorce Without Disaster - Collaborative Law - Introduction

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