Collaborative Divorce

Collaborative Divorce is a mechanism or path to divorce (or, more generally, the resolution of any family law matter) that minimizes the use of the court system and maximizes the parties' control over resolution through the use of a team that includes the parties and specially trained collaborative lawyers and may also include financial and mental health professionals.  It is an interest-based negotiation process that has proven to be both highly effective and also more satisfying to parties and professionals alike.  Tom is a trained collaborative attorney, and is part of a local collaborative divorce practice group in Fredericksburg that includes other lawyers and financial and mental health professionals.

The collaborative divorce process begins with what resembles an agreement to agree.  The parties and their lawyers sign a collaborative law agreement that provides a process for divorce outside of the courthouse and contested litigation.  The approach is a team approach.  Often the team includes a financial and a mental health professional as well as the two lawyers.  The mental health professional is generally invaluable in assisting the parties with coming up with a parenting plan, and also is important at keeping discourse between the parties on a productive plain.  The financial professional is equally invaluable at working through property division and support scenarios with the parties to develop a proposed property division that is responsive to the true interests of each of the parties.  The case is resolved through a series of face-to-face meetings with the parties and all or part of their team.  The parties are motivated to keep working on an agreed resolution; if they don’t the collaborative lawyers cannot assist them in a litigation context other than to refer the case to another lawyer and bring that lawyer up to speed with regard to what has transpired in the case.  Collaborative divorce is confidential, private, and creative; it allows for solutions that are often not they typical solutions achieve through litigation.  The success rate for collaborative is high.  The experience with post-divorce modifications also suggests that the parties to collaborative divorces tend to avoid the trap of serial modifications, which can be just as destructive to children as the original divorce – if not more destructive.  Make no mistake, in many cases, collaborative divorce is a better way to divorce.

But make no mistake about it, collaborative divorce is work.  But it is good, productive work toward the worthy goal of settlement and agreed resolution.  The parties and professionals working together towards one singular goal – an agreement that addresses each parties’ real interests, and those of any children if there are children of the relationship.  Collaborative divorce engages the parties in choices, and often reopens lines of communication between the parties closed by combat and defensiveness.  It is designed to lead to better relationships between parties post-divorce. 

Tom Carnes is a trained collaborative divorce lawyer.  He has participated in training with Collaborative Divorce Texas and is a member of that organization.  He is also member of the Collaborative Divorce Section of the State Bar of Texas.  He previously represented parties in collaborative divorces in Houston and San Antonio.  In 2018, he was one of a group of lawyers in Fredericksburg that formed Collaborative Divorce Fredericksburg, a practice group of lawyers, financial professionals, and mental health professionals.  This practice group provides, for the first time, the opportunity for parties to fully engage in collaborative divorce in the Texas Hill Country with lawyers and professionals who live and practice here.  This is unique outside of the major cities in Texas, and it is hoped that, now that the opportunity for collaborative divorce is open locally, collaborative divorce will be the way more and more people in the areas we serve go through divorce.

While there is no collaborative law statute expressly applicable outside of the context of divorce, the principles apply and can be useful in resolving over family law matters, probate matters, and business matters – situations in which preserving relationships, personal or business, is important.  Tom’s skills as a mediator make him a better collaborative lawyer.  Tom’s skills as a collaborative lawyer make him a better lawyer and a better mediator.  

Collaborative Divorce Links

Thomas P. Carnes, Attorney & Mediator
968 Braeutigam Road
Fredericksburg, TX 78624
© Thomas P. Carnes.   
Thomas P. Carnes is responsible for the content of this website.
Principal Office: Fredericksburg, Texas.