A
collaborative divorce is a non-adversarial way for clients and a team of
trained professionals to resolve divorce issues without going to court.  Rather than fight in court and air their
dirty linen in public, the clients and collaborative team work together to
resolve issues through interest-based negotiation under the protection of a
collaborative agreement. 

Confidentiality and Transparency.  A collaborative divorce offers
confidentiality and transparency—confidentiality because nothing said during the
collaborative process is admissible in court and transparency because the
clients agree to produce all relevant financial and personal information
voluntarily rather than engaging in expensive discovery disputes.  Confidentiality and transparency are important
legal rights in a collaborative divorce. 
Confidentiality protects private information shared in joint meetings
because all communications are private. 
A collaborative divorce happens outside the courtroom and the client’s
private personal and financial information are never disclosed to the public.  In contrast, a litigated divorce is open to
the public and the client’s finances, business affairs, and dirty linen are aired
for all to see  The purpose of a
collaborative divorce is to reach a fair settlement of all issues and the best
way to do that is to have all the information available to both clients and the
team.  Because the collaborative divorce
process is transparent and confidential, the clients share all relevant information
because they know it will be kept private and not broadcast to the public or
introduced at trial.

Confidentiality and Privilege.  Confidentiality and privilege in a
collaborative divorce are guaranteed by the Texas Collaborative Family Law
Act.  The Texas legislature decided that
the collaborative divorce process should enjoy strong protection so no court
can demand the disclosure of privileged collaborative information except under
limited circumstances.  And, the
privilege belongs to the collaborative process rather than the parties so they
alone can’t waive it.  A collaborative
communication is confidential to the extent agreed by the parties.  The Texas Collaborative Family Law Act is
unique because it allows the parties to agree that even their conduct and
demeanor during meetings and communications which occurred before
signing the Collaborative Family Law Participation Agreement are confidential.  Only if the information is discoverable by
independent means may it be used in a court of law.  The privilege is similar to the broad legal
protection afforded communications during mediation.

          Limits
of Privilege.
  The Texas
Collaborative Family Law Act limits the scope of privilege because it does not
apply to communications contained in a collaborative agreement in writing and
signed by the parties.  This means a
signed collaborative settlement agreement is discoverable and can be
introduced in court.  Additionally, the
privilege can be waived if all parties and non-party participants
agree.  Finally, the usual limits on
privilege apply when there has been a threat of bodily harm or commission of a
crime, abuse is suspected, there’s a claim of professional misconduct, an allegation
of fraud, a dispute about attorney fees or a claim against a third party who
was not privy to the collaborative family law agreement.  However, the attorney-client privilege
remains intact, even within the collaborative divorce process.  A client can instruct his or her attorney to not
disclose some information.  However, if
the attorney feels the client is misleading the other side, he or she is
obligated to withdraw from representation.

          Confidentiality in Collaborative
Divorce.
  Unlike litigation, a
collaborative divorce is totally confidential. 
If you want to keep your business and private affairs out of the public
arena, find yourself an attorney trained in the collaborative divorce process.  When the parties sign the Collaborative Law
Participation Agreement, they pledge to maintain the confidentiality of oral or
written communications between the parties, their attorneys and neutral
professionals.  These communications are
not subject to disclosure in court and can’t be used as evidence during
litigation.  If the parties opt out of
the collaborative process and proceed to litigation their communications,
actions and demeanor remain private and cannot be used as evidence in
court.

           Professionals with a reputation to
protect, wealthy individuals with large estates they wish to keep private, and
anyone who has committed an indiscretion, such as adultery, will appreciate the
benefit of keeping their personal lives out of the court room by agreeing to a collaborative
divorce.  This is by far the strongest benefit
for wealthy and professional clients.

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