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Collaborative Law

Sec. 6.603.  COLLABORATIVE LAW.  (a)  On a written agreement of the parties, a dissolution of marriage proceeding may be conducted under collaborative law procedures.

bbrj-logo(b)  Collaborative law Call (210)299-4777 is a procedure in which the parties and their counsel agree in writing to use their best efforts and make a good faith attempt to resolve their divorce on an agreed basis without resorting to judicial intervention except to have the court approve the settlement agreement, make the legal pronouncements, and sign the orders required by law to effectuate the agreement of the parties as the court determines appropriate.  The parties’ counsel may not serve as litigation counsel except to ask the court to approve the settlement agreement.

(c)  A collaborative law agreement must include provisions for:

(1)  full and candid exchange of information between the parties and their attorneys as necessary to make a proper evaluation of the case;

(2)  suspending court intervention in the dispute while the parties are using collaborative law procedures;

(3)  hiring experts, as jointly agreed, to be used in the procedure;

(4)  withdrawal of all counsel involved in the collaborative law procedure if the collaborative law procedure does not result in settlement of the dispute;  and

(5)  other provisions as agreed to by the parties consistent with a good faith effort to collaboratively settle the matter.

(d)  Notwithstanding Rule 11, Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, or another rule or law, a party is entitled to judgment on a collaborative law settlement agreement if the agreement:

(1)  provides, in a prominently displayed statement that is boldfaced, capitalized, or underlined, that the agreement is not subject to revocation;  and

(2)  is signed by each party to the agreement and the attorney of each party.

(e)  Subject to Subsection (g), a court that is notified 30 days before trial that the parties are using collaborative law procedures to attempt to settle a dispute may not, until a party notifies the court that the collaborative law procedures did not result in a settlement:

(1)  set a hearing or trial in the case;

(2)  impose discovery deadlines;

(3)  require compliance with scheduling orders;  or

(4)  dismiss the case.

(f)  The parties shall notify the court if the collaborative law procedures result in a settlement.  If they do not, the parties shall file:

(1)  a status report with the court not later than the 180th day after the date of the written agreement to use the procedures;  and

(2)  a status report on or before the first anniversary of the date of the written agreement to use the procedures, accompanied by a motion for continuance that the court shall grant if the status report indicates the desire of the parties to continue to use collaborative law procedures.

(g)  If the collaborative law procedures do not result in a settlement on or before the second anniversary of the date that the suit was filed, the court may:

(1)  set the suit for trial on the regular docket;  or

(2)  dismiss the suit without prejudice.

(h)  The provisions for confidentiality of alternative dispute resolution procedures as provided in Chapter 154, Civil Practice and Remedies Code, apply equally to collaborative law procedures under this section.

Added by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1022, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

Amended by:

Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 916, Sec. 1, eff. June 18, 2005.

Sec. 6.604.  INFORMAL SETTLEMENT CONFERENCE.  (a)  The parties to a suit for dissolution of a marriage may agree to one or more informal settlement conferences and may agree that the settlement conferences may be conducted with or without the presence of the parties’ attorneys, if any.

(b)  A written settlement agreement reached at an informal settlement conference is binding on the parties if the agreement:

(1)  provides, in a prominently displayed statement that is in boldfaced type or in capital letters or underlined, that the agreement is not subject to revocation;

(2)  is signed by each party to the agreement;  and

(3)  is signed by the party’s attorney, if any, who is present at the time the agreement is signed.

(c)  If a written settlement agreement meets the requirements of Subsection (b), a party is entitled to judgment on the settlement agreement notwithstanding Rule 11, Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, or another rule of law.

(d)  If the court finds that the terms of the written informal settlement agreement are just and right, those terms are binding on the court.  If the court approves the agreement, the court may set forth the agreement in full or incorporate the agreement by reference in the final decree.

(e)  If the court finds that the terms of the written informal settlement agreement are not just and right, the court may request the parties to submit a revised agreement or set the case for a contested hearing.

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