Pro Bono Collaborative Divorce has come to Texas; learn more about how it works.
After two years of planning and preparation and the launching of a pilot program in Houston, Pro Bono Collaborative Divorce has finally come to Texas. Translated, this means that in a short time, the advantages of collaborative divorce will be available to clients who cannot afford to hire a lawyer to represent them.
So what is Pro Bono Collaborative Divorce (PBCD), and who will be eligible to utilize the process? This probably will depend on the legal services provider in a potential client’s area.
In Houston, it is Houston Volunteer Lawyers (HVL), who screen clients for eligibility for their services. Once a HVL applicant is found to be eligible for the PBCD program, he or she is assigned a volunteer lawyer who has been trained specifically for this program by HVL, and his or her spouse is invited to select a collaborative lawyer from among a group of experienced collaborative lawyers for representation.
The divorcing couple is then afforded a preliminary session with a communication specialist to assist them in working on their parenting plan, and three two-hour joint meetings with their attorneys. The approach is non-adversarial, with the goal of finding solutions that meet the goals and interests of both parties. The attorneys then draft all of the required documents and help the parties go to court to “prove up” their uncontested divorce.
The program is up and running in Houston, and plans to implement it are being formulated in Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, Denton and Amarillo.
On July 16, 2016, the Texas Access to Justice Commission bestowed their Pro Bono Service Award on the Collaborative Law Pro Bono Project, giving recognition to Collaborative Law Texas and the Collaborative Law Section of the State Bar of Texas for their development of the program. It offers a peaceful path to divorce to clients and their children.
This article is from Norma Trusch, a Houston-based collaborative lawyer and former Collaborative Divorce Texas board member, who has been instrumental in developing Pro Bono Collaborative Divorce in Texas.