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The Collaborative Approach

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How  to  Get  Started

Once people become aware of Collaborative Law and decide they would like to try it, the next question for them is, “How do I get started?”  Here are some simple steps to follow:

Learn about Collaborative Law.  You are looking at the website of
the Collaborative Law Institute of Texas (CLI-TX), which will provide you with a lot of information.  The International Academy of Collaborative Professionals) (IACP) website (www.collaborativepractice.com) is also a good source of information.  In addition, some attorneys, mental health professionals and financial professionals have websites and blogs about Collaborative Law.  Several books about Collaborative Law are available, including at least two or three that are specific to the Texas approach to Collaborative Law.

Consult a Collaborative attorney.  In Texas, the Collaborative Law process usually begins with hiring an attorney.  Each spouse must be represented by a separate, independent lawyer in the Collaborative process.  The CLI-TX web site has a handy, easy-to-use resource where you can locate a Collaboratively-trained attorney or other professional in your area.  Click on a name to view a member’s profile.  The profiles detail the Collaborative lawyer’s training and experience, and many of the profiles will also introduce you to that person’s philosophy and practice style.  We also offer information on how to choose an attorney who is right for you.

Contact a Collaborative attorney by phone or in person.  It is best to meet with a lawyer in person to decide if you and the attorney seem to be a good fit.  Feel free to meet with several attorneys before you decide which one to hire.  The chemistry between you and your lawyer is very important.

In most communities in Texas, there are mental health professionals and financial professionals who are trained to work with clients on Collaborative Law teams.  A consultation with one of these professionals might get you steered toward a Collaborative Law attorney who will meet your needs.

Introduce the idea of Collaborative Law to your spouse.   It is important for both husband and wife to believe that the Collaborative Law approach is the best way for them to get through the divorce process with as little damage as possible to anyone’s finances, emotional well-being or important relationships.  If your relationship with your spouse is cordial, you can give him or her information about the process and website references.  If, however, you think your spouse might be more likely to appreciate the information if it comes from a source other than you, brainstorm with your attorney options for informing your spouse about Collaborative Law .  Think about what approach would appeal to your spouse as well as what might upset him or her.

Here are some possible ways to introduce your spouse to Collaborative Law:

  • Talk to your spouse directly if the lines of communication are open and if you and your spouse have agreed to get a divorce.  Provide your husband or wife with articles, information and website references.
  • Think about whom you can talk to and educate about Collaborative Law who also has your spouse’s ear.  Family members, pastors, counselors and mutual friends often have the ability to present information in a way that makes someone feel comfortable.  The same information, if offered by a spouse, might be viewed with suspicion and not have the same impact.
  • Sometimes, clients will ask their attorneys to mail their spouse information about Collaborative Law.  This might cause someone to have a negative response to the information, however, so think carefully about whether there are other alternatives before you use this method for getting information about Collaborative Law to your spouse.

Create a Collaborative Team.  Once you and your husband or wife have agreed to use the Collaborative Law process, the attorneys will select a neutral financial professional and/or a neutral mental health professional to work with you, if everyone feels it would be beneficial.  Not all cases will require a full professional team, but most clients do benefit from the expertise that the neutral professionals bring to the table.  In addition, having a team  ( link to Collaborative Law team)usually saves you money because you will work with the most qualified, least expensive professional when you need guidance on specific topics related to your divorce.

Schedule a Joint Meeting.  Most of the work in Collaborative Law cases takes place in meetings where both parties, both lawyers, and some or all of the other professional team members are present.  The first joint meeting is intended to set the stage for the case and to put into place the foundation that allows the Collaborative Law process to work.  Collaborative Law is a very structured process designed to provide a safe environment for you and your spouse to gather information, generate options, and negotiate in a streamlined, efficient way. Your lawyer will schedule the joint meeting to accommodate everyone’s schedule.          

 

 

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