Collaborative Law is a process in which the parties contractually agree that they will not go to court. While this may at first sound limiting, the actual result is that the parties and the lawyers are not tempted to threaten to “go to court if you don’t do what I want,” and they draw on all their creativity to develop their common interests, goals and options. The fundamental basis for collaborative law is “interest-based negotiation” vs. “position-based negotiation,” which is the basis of the litigation system. Collaborative law is private. You will not have to air your “dirty laundry” in a courtroom. The Law Office of Melissa A. Cook, PLLC, is trained in Collaborative Law and can discuss this process with you to determine if your family law matter can proceed in this manner. For more information on the Collaborative Law process, visit:

Mediation is a confidential process used to resolve conflicts in an amicable manner. An impartial mediator, typically a lawyer, directs the process and facilitates the communication between the parties in an effort to explore solutions and obtain a mutually satisfactory agreement. Agreements reached in mediation are memorialized in a Mediated Settlement Agreement, which is filed with the court and is irrevocable. Mediation can be an invaluable tool in settling your family law matter.

Limited Scope Representation (LSR) is the concept of providing only specified legal services to a client, rather than handling all aspects of a client’s case. This form of legal practice is also referred to as “unbundled legal services” or “unbundling.” For example, in a divorce case, an attorney might agree only to draft documents, or to act only as a consultant, leaving the client responsible for all other aspects of the case. LSR is practiced by attorneys across the country and used in a variety of practice areas. It is one solution to the growing number of pro se litigants. Clients who cannot afford full representation may be able to afford specific services.

“Joint Custody” is a term commonly used by parents; however, the legal term in Texas is called Conservatorship. It is presumed to be in children’s best interest for their parents to be named Joint Managing Conservators, which determines what rights and duties will be assigned to the parents and how decisions for the children will be made. Separate from Conservatorship, issues of visitation (possession and access) also needs to be addressed in a final order. Joint Managing Conservatorship does not necessarily mean the children will spend equal time with each parent, although it can. Visitation (possession and access) is separate and apart from Conservatorship, as well as, Child Support. Contact the Law Office of Melissa A. Cook, PLLC to get more information on the best solution for you and your children.

If both names are on the mortgage or other bills, you both continue to be responsible for the debt, regardless of who is actually living in the house. Unless the mortgage holder agrees to remove your name, you will not be able to remove your name from the mortgage. In that event, one option is to sell the house and pay off the mortgage.

When a parent obligated to pay periodic child support, and/or ongoing child-relating expenses (such as medical expenses) does not fulfill those obligations and enforcement suit can be filed to obtain reimbursement. The Law Office of Melissa A. Cook, PLLC, is experienced in initiating and defending enforcement suits involving child support issues, and strives to reach agreements and minimize costs whenever possible.

Yes, generally, unless you can establish to the court’s satisfaction that your ex-spouse may flee with or harm the children. It is the public policy of Texas to assure that children have frequent and continuing contact with parents who have shown the ability to act in the best interest of the child, to provide a safe, stable, and nonviolent environment for the child, and to encourage parents to share in the rights and duties of raising their children after the parents have separated or divorced. Texas has a Standard Possession Order which is presumed to be in the best interested of the child, although parents can agree to deviated from that visitation plan. Contact the Law Office of Melissa A. Cook, PLLC, to get more information on the best solution for you and your children.

In Texas, you generally have to wait 60 days from the day you file for divorce until the court will grant your divorce. However, it typically takes longer, especially if property or children issues are involved.

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