The District Courts of Collin County have a large volume
of family law disputes which come before the Courts for resolution. The
issues involved in this area of litigation include divorce, modification
and enforcement of prior orders affecting children. Invariably these issues
are highly emotional and cause life changing events which result in the
dissolution of marriages, disruption of families, division of community
property and debts, and orders concerning possession and support of children.
There are many cases which are filed in response to
anger, hurt feelings or pain without consideration of the long term results
of litigation. Those long term results include dissipation or depletion
of family resources, dissension among extended family members, serious
life style changes for children, feelings of abandonment and alienation,
and fracture of families.
You now have a choice of using courtroom litigation,
mediation or collaboration to solve your problems. Your choice can promote
a mature and thoughtful settlement of the issues or an invitation to all
The collaborative process utilizes lawyers
and other professionals trained in negotiations and family matters to
represent you and your spouse or former spouse only for the purpose of
helping you settle your case. These lawyers can never go to court for
you, except to finalize or close the case. They will help you get the
coaching and experts you need to reach an agreement without the trauma
of litigation. Their training and expertise is used to solve problems,
Mediation is an informal process in which
a neutral third party assists the opposing parties to reach a voluntary,
negotiated resolution. In the mediation process you and your spouse or
former spouse would meet with a trained family law mediator. The mediator
would assist you in making your own decisions to settle your differences.
You may have a lawyer present to give you legal advice throughout the
mediation process. There are private attorneys trained in mediation techniques
as well as non-attorneys who provide mediation services.
Each of these alternatives allows parties to be in control of the outcome
of their divorce or modification suit. Each allows the parties to be creative
and work out an agreement in a manner which a Court may not have the legal
authority to do. When parties invoke the power of the Judge to rule on
their case, they are asking a stranger to make final decisions on these
very personal and unique problems, rather than working together to come
up with a solution with which both can be satisfied.
When parents are caught up in their own issues and best
interests, their children usually take a back seat; and many times they
are used to promote and accomplish the goals of the parents, rather than
the parents focusing on the needs of the children. When children are used
in this manner, parents may doom their children to a life of litigation
and conflict until they are adults. If only parents could see what damage
is done to their children when they are caught in the crossfire of litigation
and spite fights by their parents. Please take the time to view a timely
public service video, Kids
in the Crossfire, produced by the Texas Young
Lawyers Association, which is sure to give you pause before heading for
battle or continuing to battle over your children.
Please think carefully about the choices available to
you. Litigation is an adversarial approach. It is very expensive, increases
conflict and many times proves devastating to the children involved. The
bad feelings from courtroom litigation can affect you and your children
the rest of your lives. On the other hand, mediation or collaborative
law can result in a settlement that is less expensive, less traumatic
and more creative. The choices you make now can have an enormous immediate
and long term effect on you and your children. Choose wisely.