One hesitation a Dallas resident might have about using “collaborative law” to settle either a child custody or other family law matter is that they may think no one will be on their side of the negotiation table since everyone is, theoretically, working together to talk through issues.
While this may sound really nice in theory, a Texan may worry that, in practice, it could mean his or her own views get minimized or even ignored outright.
It is therefore important for people to realize that even if they choose to use collaborative law to resolve a divorce or other family law issue, everyone can, and are encouraged to, have their own attorney represent their interests. The difference in collaborative law cases is that the focus is on resolving issues via negotiation so that everyone moves toward a common goal without having to worry about contentious litigation and courtroom battles. If the process fails for whatever reason and the couple decides to go to court with an issue, their collaborative law attorneys both withdraw.
Just because people are trying to resolve their issues through negotiation, however, it does not mean that their respective attorneys are not on their side. The attorney still has the same obligation to investigate issues, give sound legal advice, propose suggestions and alternatives as to what might and might not work, and, generally, review any negotiation and agreement to make sure the client understands what he or she is agreeing to and that the agreement is fair and reasonable.
Although a collaborative approach is not the best for every family law case, Texans should not avoid simply because they think it means their lawyer will not stand up for them. While the process is different, the attorney’s fundamental role is the same.