If you and your spouse have selected the Collaborative Divorce path, each of you must have your own Collaborative Divorce attorney. If you have chosen your Collaborative Divorce attorneys wisely, each of the attorneys are highly trained and experienced at successfully completing collaborative divorces for other clients.
The first step is for each of your Collaborative Divorce attorneys to walk you through the steps in the Collaborative Divorce process so that you can understand them, prepare for them and form reasonable expectations about what will likely occur. You and your attorneys will schedule a first joint meeting, which will be attended by you, your attorneys and any allied collaborative professionals who will participate in and support you and your spouse in the Collaborative Divorce process. Your Collaborative Divorce attorneys will likely advise you on the identity of the best candidates who are most suited to participate in the multi-disciplinary collaborative team, namely a joint neutral financial professional (FA) and a joint neutral mental healthcare professional (MHP), who may assist in developing a parenting plan, if you have children, and with communication.
At the first team meeting, those present will have a chance to get to know one another, the Participation Agreement will be signed; and, at this meeting or at the second joint meeting, you and your spouse will be able to share your interests, goals and concerns in the Collaborative Divorce process.
At the first joint meeting (or sometimes at the second joint meeting) engagement letters (professional participation agreements) are signed between you and your spouse and the allied neutral joint professionals you retain. At the first joint meeting and all subsequent meetings, agendas will be prepared and followed so that time is spent efficiently and meaningful things are accomplished to move the Collaborative Divorce process forward.
No doubt, your Collaborative Divorce attorneys will have explained to you both the Roadmap to Resolution. The Roadmap must be followed if the Collaborative Divorce process is to work for you. Skipping a step in the process on the Roadmap to Resolution only leads to frustration and having to circle back later to take care of something which should have been handled earlier in the process.
After identifying your interests, goals and concerns, both individual and joint, you and your spouse and the collaborative team supports you both in information gathering. In order to make well-reasoned and workable outcomes, both you and your spouse need all relevant information so that you can develop options and agree on outcomes which are informed, intelligent, wise and workable.
Once you and your spouse have gathered all relevant information, options will be developed and evaluated in joint meetings and outside of joint meetings in offline meetings with the collaborative team members. In evaluating options to divide the marital estate, in the most beneficial way for you and your spouse or in evaluating a parenting plan which is likely to meet your child’s or children’s needs, you will likely find that the steps in the Collaborative Divorce process organically unfold and produce the best financial plan and the best parenting plan for you and your spouse. Then again, there may be fears, disagreements and anxiety about evaluating options which require much greater work and more thoughtful consideration. However, unlike divorce litigation in which one side is pitted against another, the Collaborative Divorce team (the attorneys and allied professionals), are all present to help make the process smoother, transitions easier and assist you both in reaching outcomes that are best suited to meet your needs and that of your child or children. It is comforting to know that in Collaborative Divorce, there will be no temporary or final agreements unless both you and your spouse agree. An outcome will not be forced upon you (unlike in litigation by the court).
After you have established the interests, needs and goals, gathered information, developed and evaluated options to settle the issues in your Collaborative Divorce and have reached an agreement, your Collaborative Divorce attorneys will prepare the final divorce papers, namely, an agreed decree of divorce and, for privacy in some cases, an agreement incident to divorce, which is not filed with the Court. Once the final papers have been reviewed and signed, you and your spouse and the Collaborative Divorce attorneys go to Court to obtain an uncontested no-fault divorce. Once the divorce decree has been signed by the Court, then your attorneys and the allied professionals will help you implement your agreements and transition you and your ex-spouse and restructured family to a new normal.
Collaborative Divorce Houston hopes that, if you select the Collaborative Divorce process to end your marriage, to divide your property in a manner most beneficial to both you and your spouse and to design a parenting plan which is best for your child or children, that you will find, as countless other spouses have around the world, that the Collaborative Divorce process is the preferred method to say goodbye and be more prepared for a future of happiness and well-being.