For the past five weeks we have discussed the collaborative divorce process. If you missed the previous installments in this series, you can find them here, here , here and here, and here. Part 5 of 5 discussed why so many people haven’t heard of collaborative divorce in Texas. One of those reasons was that the lawyers stand to lose money a couple of ways in a collaborative divorce. First, the whole purpose of collaborative divorce is to get people divorced without expensive litigation, so the collaborative process avoids expensive hearings and trial. Second, when a lawyer agrees to take on a collaborative divorce, he or she either settles the case collaboratively or is required to withdraw from the case if collaboration fails.
What is “Cooperative Divorce”?
There are some firms out there who offer something called “cooperative divorce” as an alternative to collaborative divorce. Simply put, “cooperative divorce” does not exist. There is not one single Texas Family Code provision about anything called “cooperative divorce.” Thus any lawyer who purports to practice “cooperative divorce” is making it up as he or she goes!
“Cooperative Divorce” is Risky for the Client
No Protections From The Court in “Cooperative Divorce”
In a collaborative divorce, the family court must stay out of the process, meaning the court cannot compel the parties to attend hearings, file pleadings, mediate, exchange discovery, or anything else. The parties proceed at their own pace regardless of what the court normally does in typical divorces. In a “cooperative divorce” the court is free to interject itself upon the parties as it wishes. Likewise, all of the privacy protections the Family Code provides in the collaborative divorce process are not present in any other divorce proceedings.
Is “Cooperative Divorce” Ethical?
We are aware of some firms who offer “cooperative divorce” to their clients saying that the two are basically the same — except there are at least two serious problems with this garbage. First, this indicates that the lawyers in question are not trained in the collaborative process or else they would know the serious and significant differences between real collaborative divorce and the snake oil they are peddling. Without the proper training how can they say what they offer is the same if they do not actually know that what they offer isn’t protected by the Family Code? Does this mean the lawyer is lying to the client?
More importantly, as I discussed in my last post, when negotiations fail in a collaborative divorce, both lawyers MUST withdraw from the case. This means the collaborative lawyers have a vested interest in seeing the collaboration through to a successful outcome for the clients. What happens when negotiations break down in a “cooperative divorce”? Do these lawyers withdraw, or do they continue to drive the case into and through the expensive litigation the client hoped to avoid? Because litigation is a money maker for lawyers, one must wonder if failure to successfully negotiate a settlement wasn’t really the plan for these lawyers all along. Is that a breach of their fiduciary duty to their clients?
Youngblood Law, PLLC is a Fort Worth, Texas family law firm that uses a holistic approach to help people get on with their new life by getting done with their old life. We proudly offer the collaborative divorce process for our clients. #beforeyournext make sure this spouse is your ex! This essay is intended for educational use only, and is not a replacement for competent legal counsel. If you are facing a family law matter, we recommend obtaining competent legal counsel like Youngblood Law, PLLC. For more information, contact us at 817-601-5345, find us on the web at www.youngblood-law.com, or on your mobile device, open your browser and type in lawfw.biz and press Go.
Paul Youngblood #beforeyournext #lawfw #youngbloodlaw #singleforjinglejingle #collaborativedivorce #beingdivorceddoesntsuck