We’re not an organization that typically touts our awards, but the State Bar of Texas recently honored the efforts of two longtime Collaborative Divorce Texas members, and Collaborative Divorce Texas itself, with its 2016 Pro Bono Service Award. The vision of collaborative divorce for all, through an innovative program that makes collaborative divorce possible for lower-income people, has debuted in Houston and has helped its first couples to collaborative divorce.
From the press release:
The Collaborative Law Pro Bono Project was created through the joint efforts of Collaborative Divorce Texas and Houston collaborative attorney, Norma Trusch, who was instrumental in developing the forms used and in the training of the attorneys who participated in the project; Alissa Gomez, Executive Director of the Houston Volunteer Lawyers who enthusiastically supported this endeavor; and the Collaborative Law Section under Jack Emmott’s leadership.
Proponents of the Collaborative Divorce process believe that every family should be entitled to a dignified, confidential, client-centered, peaceable divorce resolution process which protects children from the harm done to them in adversarial litigation. “The collaborative dispute resolution process should not be a privilege of the purse. Parents, married couples and their children have serious problems and needs that are not confined to the wealthy, upper social-economic part of our society, said Emmott. “One could argue that the poor have an even greater need for such help than do the wealthy. The poor do not have access to the array of highly qualified therapists and mental health care professionals that others do.”
Emmott’s quote, and indeed the entire project, speaks to how Collaborative Divorce Texas professionals feel about their practice. We live in a world in which an adversarial courtroom system is seen as the default. We think in terms of winners and losers, and far too often, don’t fully comprehend the damage that winning or losing will do to divorcing couples’ ability to cooperate after divorce as they continue to parent their children. We don’t think about the long-term emotional effects of a courtroom battle on those who divorce, regardless of whether they have children or not.
We believe, simply, that collaborative divorce is a better way to divorce, and the Pro Bono Project is a step toward helping more and more people choose it as their option.