Divorce Lawyers Opting for Valentine’s Truce
Valentine’s Day isn’t always a celebration of undying romantic love. This year, family law attorneys in Texas are exploring ways that disputing couples can play nice, whether they stay together or are torn asunder.
For decades, litigation was the only avenue for parties in trouble. The couples would simply load their weapons and come out blazing. During the 1990s, collaborative law was developed as a viable alternative to litigation, offering a more civilized form of divorce for parties who didn’t want to hate each other after they parted.
“Collaborative law (CL) is more private and confidential than the traditional litigation process,” says Kevin Fuller, president of the Collaborative Law Institute of Texas, “and it usually makes better use of your time and money.”
Cases handled under CL operate outside the court system, and the parties are much less likely to cause irreparable damage to family relationships than in contested litigation. This is especially important when there are children in the marriage or the couple owns a business together.
“In some cases, people come to us wanting a divorce and wind up reconciling,” says Fuller, a board certified family lawyer with the firm of Koons, Fuller, Vanden Eykel & Robertson in Dallas. “Reconciliation can be a natural part of this process. Let’s say that a couple comes to us because they argue over money. The CL process is designed to allow people to look at disagreements in a new light. They might decide to reconcile and we work out a post-marital agreement that spells out how they are going to handle the finances.”
A recent story in Texas Lawyer tells about a new effort to establish a third track of family law known as reconciliation law (RL), and the founding of an organization called the Peaceful Family Law Practice Group.
With RL, there is a willingness to save the marriage whenever possible. Parties voluntarily enter into a legally binding agreement to work on the relationship. If the attorneys can’t settle a CL case, they must withdraw and let different attorneys take the case into court. In RL, if the parties decide not to get back together, the attorneys can finish the case.
Whatever their differences, though, their goals are the same for Valentine’s Day and every other day: allow families to avoid the potential head-on collision of divorce litigation.
Source: Koons, Fuller, Vanden Eykel & Robertson