Many of those in the greater Austin, Texas, area who follow this blog probably already know that collaborative law involves a lot of negotiation in child support, divorce and child custody matters. The idea of the collaborative process is, after all, to encourage family law negotiation during what are often otherwise very emotional and contentious proceedings.
What some might not realize, however, is that the way in which negotiation works in a collaborative law case is very different from what the average Texan might think of when they hear words like “negotiating” or “bargaining.”
For example, many might see negotiation as an exercise in which two sides begin urging the strengths of their positions aggressively on the other side and meet somewhere in the middle, with the goal being for the end result to favor your side over that of the other person. Even if both sides behave professionally when in the process, this type of negotiation often is contentious and leads to stress and hard feelings, simply because it encourages an adversarial approach.
On the other hand, negotiation in the collaborative law process is expected to focus on what the specific problems are, such as how to determine an amount of child support both sides can afford or what an appropriate custody arrangement would be so that a child can enjoy a relationship with both of her parents. The parties work together to come up with solutions that work for them.
Although this collaborative approach does not work for everyone, the goal is to get everyone through a potentially contentious family law case without burning any bridges.