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Collaborative Law

Collaborative law is an alternative and voluntary legal process used in divorce, family law, and other civil cases for settling disputes.  By providing a structured process for settling parties’ differences, the practice of collaborative law offers parties an alternative to the traditional litigation model, which often becomes costly and emotionally draining.  This practice enables couples seeking a resolution for their family law matters (i.e. divorce, child custody disputes, modifications, enforcement issues, etc.) by focusing on the family issues that benefit both parties and/or their children by establishing a cooperative environment, as opposed to litigation.

Communication is open, honest, and shared, and there is no fault finding and blaming.  One of the most attractive aspects of collaborative law for many parties is the fact that it is conducted in private with their attorneys, as well as neutral professionals, who assist the parties in reaching a settlement agreement outside of court.  Collaborative attorneys are trained in interest-based negotiation and the parties work with their attorneys to understand the legal consequences for themselves and the other party in order to minimize the possibility of future conflicts.

The collaborative law process gives clients the ability to move as fast or as slow as necessary thus, allowing the parties to emotionally and/or financially deal with the issues at hand so that when all is said and done, the parties have a positive relationship, especially where there are children involved.

What happens in a Collaborative Law divorce case?

Through collaborative law, both you and your spouse make a commitment to work through your divorce together in a respectful and honest way.  The collaboratively trained attorneys and the clients work together to reach a resolution that is appropriate for both parties.

Often times during the collaborative law process, a neutral financial professional and/or a mental health professional can join the parties and their attorneys in this process to assist the parties with conflict resolution and financial planning.  The neutral financial professional will be able to assist the parties with the division of their estate in a manner that is appropriate. The mental health professional can assist the parties with issues that may arise regarding the party’s child(ren) and/or personal concerns a party may have. The neutral financial and mental health professional will often meet with a party and his/her attorney to privately discuss that party’s concerns and together generate ideas on how to address such concerns during joint meetings.

Most Collaborative Law cases consist of:

(1) individual meetings between a party and that party’s attorney;

(2) joint meetings in which both parties and their attorneys are present (and any agreed upon neutral third party); and

(3) “Team Meetings” which occur when the attorneys and any agreed upon neutral third party(ies) meet to review and discuss the case. These meeting usually take place prior to the joint meetings.

To learn more about how collaborative law is different from the traditional litigation process:


How did the Collaborative Law process originate?

The idea for Collaborative Law was started by an attorney named Stu Webb, an attorney who practiced in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He had been practicing traditional family law litigation for 18 years and was tired of the process. It was his opinion that the litigation process was not the best method by which to settle these kinds of issues and therefore he decided that he was not going to litigate anymore. At some point he realized that he couldn’t do it alone and needed other attorneys who had the same philosophy.

If you are considering the collaborative law process for your divorce or other family law matter or would like more information regarding the collaborative law process, please see the Collaborative Divorce Austin website or contact our office to schedule a consultation.