A Court in Houston recently reinforced the importance of honesty and full disclosure during the Collaborative Law process when it found that a husband potentially committed fraud by failing to disclose changing job circumstances. See Rawls v. Rawls, 2015 WL 5076283 (Tex. App.–Houston [1st Dist.] 2015, no pet.).
A husband and wife in Houston chose to use Collaborative Law to complete their divorce proceedings in 2014. They successfully reached a settlement that included provisions for the wife to receive portions of her husband’s bonus over the next few years. Unfortunately, before the settlement agreement was signed, the husband received a job offer, which he failed to disclose to his wife, and he resigned from his job. Full and complete disclosures of such information is a critical part of the Collaborative Law process, because the goal is to make both parties feel safe to make informed decisions. The Houston Court is currently examining whether the husband committed fraud and breached a fiduciary duty under the Collaborative Law agreement he signed by concealing his job change from his former spouse during the collaborative law process.
Collaborative Law is an alternative method for resolving disputes without going to Court, and you can read more about the process here. If both parties to a divorce sign a collaborative law agreement, they are committing to negotiate in a safe environment and to work on an outcome that keeps each party’s individual and mutual goal in mind. Through the collaborative law process with a divorce attorney at McClure Law Group, families can come to an agreement involving child custody, child support, alimony, and property rights. Collaborative Law is particularly beneficial for high net worth clients who own businesses and other complex assets. The benefits of collaborative law include that the process:
- Helps families agree on the fair division of all personal and business assets without the destructive resource drain that can occur in drawn-out litigation
- Limits hostile communications, avoiding toxic damage to fragile family relationships for a more positive foundation to restructure family connections following the divorce
- Allows constructive consideration of out-of-the-box solutions that can increase the percentage of assets each party gains by reducing the costs spent on reaching agreement.
- Often concludes cases quickly and efficiently, reducing the impact on personal and work obligations
- Protects privacy, relieving the pressure to divulge personal issues to justify frequent absences common in long court battles.
As the Court in Houston reinforced, another benefit of collaborative law is that both parties must commit to be honest. This honesty includes sharing details that the parties may not feel safe sharing in Court, where such information might be used against them. The Court in Houston suggested that the parties to a collaborative law agreement have a duty to share any information that the opposing party would need to make a decision.
Collaborative law helps couples work together during this difficult time for the mutually optimal end result. The attorneys at McClure Law Group are experienced in Collaborative Law and can help you work toward a resolution that maximizes your goals and the goals of your family. If you have questions about whether collaborative law is right for your family, please contact us at 214-692-8200.
We also encourage you to explore these Collaborative Law resources as you consider whether the process is right for your family: