Killeen Collaborative Divorce Attorneys
Dispute alternatives method for spouses ending their marriages in Harker Heights, Waco, Copperas Cove, and throughout Central Texas
There are many different parts to a divorce action. Parties need to divorce based on no-fault grounds or fault-grounds. The marital property needs to be identified, valued, and divided. A spouse may be entitled to temporary support during the marriage and spousal maintenance after the marriage. If there are children, then decisions need to be made about child custody and child support.
At the Mary Beth Harrell Law firm, we have the experience and resources to help guide you and your children through each phase of the divorce process. Our Killeen collaborative divorce lawyers work to maximize your financial assets and income while helping you move forward with your life. We work to ensure that your children have the care and love they need during the anxiety of the divorce and after the divorce is finalized. In many cases we are able to negotiate fair agreements with your spouse. In contested cases, we are ready to present your best case before the judge assigned to your family law issues.
The Collaborative Family Law Act
In Texas, the family court system provides an alternative way to try to resolve your divorce matters that helps to settle disputes without having formal trials. That alternative process is called “collaborative divorce.” and the process is specifically codified in its own subsection of the Texas Family Code, called The Collaborative Family Law Act.
What are the requirements for a collaborative divorce in Central Texas?
The collaborative divorce process is meant to be a non-adversarial alternative to the usual divorce process and may be used for any separating couple where family violence is not a factor. With limited judicial intervention, the spouses, their lawyers, and the experts work together to try to forge solutions that are fair to both spouses and their children.
The process is voluntary; it can’t be ordered by the court. The spouses need to agree to the following before the process starts:
- Both spouses need to agree to use the collaborative divorce process in writing.
- Each spouse is represented by a family lawyer.
- The process begins by identifying the issues (such as child custody, property division, and spousal support/alimony) that need to be resolved.
- The collaborative process suspends any court proceedings.
- Typically, the collaborative divorce process agrees to use “neutral” professionals and experts such as licensed clinical counsellors, appraisers and financial experts:
- For example, in many cases where one spouse owns a business, a financial expert is brought in to determine the value of business – based on the businesses’ profit and loss statements, tax returns, asset and income evaluation, and other factors depending on the nature of the business.
- Experts are often needed to value pension and retirement plans.
- Psychologists may be consulted to assess the impact of the divorce on children.
Either spouse can terminate the collaborative divorce process at any time, and do not need grounds for ending the process.
Any agreement between the spouses is binding on the spouses in generally the same way a negotiated settlement or a court order is binding. If the spouses can’t reach an agreement, then the open disputes are presented before a family court judge.
One critical part of collaborative divorce is that the process is confidential. This means the lawyers, the financial professionals, and any professionals brought in to help resolve the conflict can’t testify in court about the discussions that took place during the process.
What are the advantages of a collaborative divorce?
There are numerous reasons why our Killeen family law attorneys might suggest collaborative divorce for clients. Some of these reasons include:
- Less stress. The collaborative divorce process is designed to craft solutions by making the spouses work together instead of against each other. Trials can be very stressful because the spouses don’t control the decisions. Many spouses find trials difficult because the formal process doesn’t always let the spouses say what they want to say. Collaboration avoids the stresses so the spouses can feel they are being heard and getting a fair result.
- More privacy. In trials, the present public and court staff can hear everything that is being said. The motions and filings are generally public record. Collaborations involve just the spouses, their lawyers and the agreed upon professionals. The lawyers and professionals are required to keep the conversations confidential.
- Better for the children. Divorces are especially hard on children. The collaborative process is designed to avoid having children testify in court and avoid, as much as possible, having to decide between one parent over another parent.
- Less expensive than a trial. Trials can be costly because they require a lot more preparation, last longer, and attorneys have limited control over when the case is scheduled on the docket. Collaborative divorces have, especially in acrimonious relationships, the potential to be far less costly than trials.
- Faster and more convenient. Collaborative divorce conferences are scheduled at the convenience of the spouses, their lawyers, and the professionals. Court hearings need to accommodate the judge’s docket, which is often a congested space. The collaborative divorce meetings are scheduled so that the spouses lose minimal time from work and may be heard when the children are in school or when they don’t need supervision, simply because it is structured around the needs of the divorcing parties. By consulting with professionals who have worked in many other divorces, solutions are often innovative and based on what has worked well for families in the past. This expertise helps arrive at quicker, handcrafted and imaginative solutions that work for all parties and the specific needs of their family unit.
- Better compliance when the divorce is over. In collaborative divorces, both spouses agree to the final agreement. Both spouses are invested in working out solutions. In trials, the judge forces the decisions on the spouses. Generally, spouses who reach a voluntarily agreement are less likely to seek to modify the agreement and they are more likely to work out any differences that arise after the divorce is finalized, such as scheduling conflicts regarding transporting their children.
- Better ability to craft solutions. In a collaborative divorce, experienced lawyers and professionals can often craft solutions that benefit both spouses. For instance, a couple may agree that the mother continues to be able to reside in the home with the children until they graduate high school, other than be forced to sell the home while the children excel in a leading school district, in lieu of the father maintaining the small business and all its affiliated assets accumulated during the marriage.
- The setting is different. Trials are heard in courtrooms with witness boxes. Collaborative divorces are generally heard in an office setting or a neutral conference room. The spouses can typically take breaks in other rooms to discuss issues privately with their lawyer or expert before returning to the main room where both spouses, their lawyers, and facilitator meet together. Moreover, the ‘team’ may meet as often or little as needed at the convenience of the parties and their schedules rather than at the availability of the court.
Speak with a caring, experienced Killeen divorce lawyer
Divorce is an intimidating process. In the midst of ending a relationship with a spouse, you need to focus on your personal future, the care and security of your children, and your financial future. At the Mary Beth Harrell Law firm, our Killeen divorce lawyers guide you through each part of your divorce. We work to resolve your disputes in a friendly but just manner when you and your spouse both want to move forward. To speak with a respected Texas divorce lawyer, call us at 254-680-4655 or complete our contact form to schedule an appointment. We have offices in Killeen, Waco, and Copperas Cove, and serve clients throughout Central Texas.