In a typical litigated divorce in Texas, and probably most states, the Judge will impose a standard set of guidelines for most matters relating to the children. In many of those cases, the resulting order doesn't exactly fit the needs or facts of the case. Many times, there's a random standard possession schedule for the children, as well as a standard child support order. Special needs due to work, geography, health, school or any other factors are often not considered. The big advantage of that approach, "one size fits all", is that it's easy.
Unfortunately, easy isn't always good or appropriate.
What can be done using Collaborative Law?
In contrast, parties using the Collaborative Law process can create a plan for taking care of the children that really benefits the children and the parents. Here are some things that can be done , as needed, because we customize terms of orders when we use Collaborative Law.
1. Set up rules for dating for the parents, including how and when to introduce a new significant other to the children. New relationships can be very stressful and unsettling for the children.
2. Share parenting responsibility according to need, past experience, education, ability, interest and other factors for the parents and the children. Taking into account the strengths and weaknesses of each parent can yield a more practical and effective sharing of responsibilities.
3. Make sure important things are paid for. Plan ahead for needed expenditures, such as field trips, vacations, school events, sports, proms and other activities.
4. Figure out how and when to coordinate activities and decision-making about activities. Come up with a way to amicably communicate between the parents for future situations.
5. Work out ways to resolve or avoid future disputes. Get some tie-breakers, such as allowing a pediatrician to resolve medical issues or a teacher or counselor to resolve school or other issues.
6. Cooperate to share time during the holidays, not using arbitrary schedules.Communicating in advance about wants and plans can help avoid holiday stress.
7. Customize the regular scheduling and sharing of the children. Be creative and be willing to make changes.
8. Plan and pay for college. That includes the preliminary steps of visiting schools, preparing for college, applying and choosing a school, taking the child to school and getting them back home for holidays and summers, etc. There's plenty of involvement for everyone.
9. Plan for age-related future issues and new expenses for school, car, activities such as sports, music and extra-curriculars. Kids will be more expensive for new reasons as time goes by. It helps to plan for that, as much as possible.
10. Model good behavior for your children. Show them that parents can be respectful and cooperative even after a divorce. Help them learn how to deal with difficult situations without resorting to bad behavior. Show maturity.
If the parents are really concerned about the best interests of the children, Collaborative Law gives them the opportunity to take care of the kids in many different ways. Parents should meet with a trained Collaborative lawyer to consider that process before they file for divorce.