In May of 2011 the Uniform Collaborative Family Law Act, House Bill 3833, was unanimously approved by the Texas House of Representatives and the Texas Senate. The bill will go into effect on September 1, 2011. Collaborative family law is a practice that is gaining rapid popularity in Texas. The parties to a family law dispute can agree to settle their matter completely out of court. The collaborative law process is a voluntary, confidential, structured settlement process in which the parties engage collaborative law attorneys and agree in writing to negotiate a settlement without going to court. The parties and their attorneys set goals, gather information, and create solutions through a series of meetings. Once an agreement is reached, it is finalized by the Court.
There are many advantages to using the collaborative law process. The process encourages the full disclosure of information because the parties agree at the very beginning to disclose all non-privileged information to the other side. Also, because the collaborative law attorneys are required to withdraw from the case should it end up in court, the attorneys are free to be candid and open with another in reaching a mutually beneficial resolution. Many prefer this process because they feel more in control of the process and the outcome. As opposed to a contested case battled out in open court, the parties are free to come up with flexible solutions to fit the particular needs of their unique situation.
The success rates of this process have been astounding. According to International Association of Collaborative Professionals, 95% of the Texas family law cases handled collaboratively have either settled or ended in reconciliation of the parties. Additionally, more than 80% of the parties who have used the collaborative law process said that they would recommend it to friends and that they felt that they legal fees they paid to the lawyers were reasonable. Many have found this private and more amicable process preferable because they were able to control the timing, the issues, and most importantly, the resolutions to their family law case.
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