Norma Levine Trusch is convinced that collaborative law is the most exciting and innovative development in family law in Texas since the passage of the Texas Family Code in 1974. Collaborative family law enables spouses and domestic partners an approach to settling divorce negotiations, resolving family disputes and supporting their children’s welfare without going to court. By recognizing and building on the couples own needs and interests, collaborative lawyers facilitate clients in finding livable legal solutions that reflect the needs of all parties involved and minimize the financial and emotional disruption to the family.
What is Collaborative Law?
Collaborative law is a unique, non-adversarial process to handling divorce or other family law matter in which the attorneys and clients make a commitment not to go to court and to work together toward a resolution of all issues in a fair, private, and respectful manner.
Collaborative family law is founded on three core principles – a signed pledge not to go to court; an honest and open exchange of information and communication; and the participation in negotiations leading to a mutually acceptable settlement. The collaborative approach is intended to be a win-win process for the families involved. The collaborative lawyers role is to guide their clients through the process through interest-based negotiations, so that both parties values and goals are heard and understood.
How it Works
At the beginning of the collaborative process, the couple and their respective attorneys sign a Participation Agreement that commits them to full-disclosure of financial information, to maintain absolute confidentiality and to reach a solution without going to court. Each party agrees to honestly and openly disclose all documents and information relating to the issues at hand.
Each spouse then meets with their respective collaborative lawyer to discuss their individual needs and concerns. The couple and their lawyers then come together in a series of joint sessions to negotiate the terms of a settlement. If needed, the collaborative law approach allows the couple to share other allied professionals such as financial advisors, real estate appraisers or parenting consultants as part of the collaborative process. Everyone involved is dedicated to reaching a settlement that considers the values and goals of both parties and any children to the parties.
When a settlement is reached, the collaborative lawyers file the appropriate paperwork with the courts to obtain the final divorce or separation decree. The couple does not need to make an appearance.
If at any point either client wants to end the process, the attorneys are disqualified from representing them in court and they must find other, adversarial, representation. In that event, the collaborative lawyers assist their clients in transitioning to litigation counsel.
Advantages of Collaborative Law
An important advantage is the use of neutral specialists. If needed, the parties can utilize the assistance of financial planners, child specialists, appraisers, accountants, educational consultants, or any number of other experts who will use their training and expertise to assist both parties by providing information or analysis, as needed. Rather than acting as “hired guns”, these experts can bring an honest and even-handed view of the information and facts to the table for use in creating options for settlement that will, as much as possible, meet the goals and interests of both parties
Collaborative Divorce is the healthiest model of divorce because it addresses all of the dissolution issues in supportive and comprehensive approach and helps the parties develop more effective ways of communicating with one another through the process as well as beyond the divorce settlement.
Norma Trusch is not only trained in collaborative law, but is in demand as a trainer of other lawyers who want to learn about this humane and enlightened approach to the resolution of family law disputes. If you want to learn more about the collaborative process to determine if it would best meet your needs, please contact our office for an appointment.