Divorce Over Easy

Collaborative divorce promises to be kinder, faster, cheaper. But does it really work?

As for Michael, he says he and Beth aren't friends but they're friendly. His parents are still close to Beth, and they visit her regularly. When Beth and Michael's oldest child celebrated a birthday shortly after the divorce, Michael asked the daughter if she wanted separate birthday dinners with each parent. She told him she'd rather have the family all together.

It was hard for Beth, but she agreed to do it for her daughter's sake. She doesn't know that she would have been able to go through with it if she hadn't done collaboration. Since the agreement, Beth has suggested the process to a friend. It's the sanest way to split up, she says. Michael agrees.

"There is healing that still needs to go on," he says. "But time is the biggest healer of that rift, and maybe it's the collaborative process that allows it to occur."

Attorney Jennifer Broussard handled the first 
collaborative law case in the Houston area.
Monica Fuentes
Attorney Jennifer Broussard handled the first collaborative law case in the Houston area.
Wendy Burgower says she would never handle a 
collaborative divorce case because it would take away 
her client's right to a trial.
Monica Fuentes
Wendy Burgower says she would never handle a collaborative divorce case because it would take away her client's right to a trial.

On the night of the birthday dinner, the family went out for steaks, and the grandparents came, too. Beth says at first it felt like there was a big white elephant sitting smack in the middle of the table. She and Michael didn't sit next to each other, but they said hello. Since that dinner there have been other celebratory events, and Beth says it's gotten easier each time.

Still, she doesn't want anyone to have illusions about collaborative law. Even though she supports the process -- even though everyone was nice and sat around the table and shook hands -- in the end, her husband of 18 years still decided to leave her.

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