Michael P. O'Reilly, P.C. 

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Alternative Dispute Resolution

Many trial lawyers who have practiced family law for an extended period of time have come to the conclusion that the trial model for divorce and/or custody litigation can be unnecessarily destructive to the parties, to their children, and to their pocket books.  Custody litigation in particular quite often forces parents into a scorched earth, take no prisoners posture which adversely affects their parental relationship (and therefore their parenting abilities) for many years into the future.  Even when the litigation is only over the question of dividing assets, the process can be emotionally destructive and financially draining.

Out of this awareness, reputable family lawyers have sought for years to find a softer, gentler way to allow parties to resolve their differences.  In the practice of family law, the first major change in this direction occurred in 1987 when the Texas Legislature allowed family lawyers to adopt the process called Mediation.  This process involved the two parties along with their lawyers (and other experts such as CPAs, appraisers, and counselors, if necessary) to meet with a trained mediator in an effort to amicably resolve all issues between them.  Happily, the mediation model turned out to be extremely successful and to date, in excess of 80% of all mediated family law cases resolve at or shortly after mediation.

In addition to being an advocate of mediation in his family law practice, Mr. O'Reilly is also a trained family law mediator with many years of experience and hundreds of successful mediations.

The next great ground swell in the search for a better way to resolve family law issues was the advent of Collaborative Law which has only come to the forefront since the start of the new millennium.  (The model has been around longer, but has only recently been discovered and embraced by Texas family lawyers.) 

Collaborative Law is a process whereby the parties, with the assistance of their lawyers, agree to maintain complete control of their divorce process (no decisions made by a stranger in a black robe or twelve strangers in a jury box).  The parties also agree to an equal sharing of power in the process.  Each agrees to use the same expert (such as appraisers, counselors, CPAs, etc.)  and each agrees to a full and complete disclosure (no games or ambushes or hiding the ball).

An example to contrast the difference between the litigation model and the collaborative law model of resolving an issue would be as follows. 

Suppose the parties are in disagreement about the value of a house.  In the litigation model, each party would hire his or her own appraiser to appraise the property, and then each appraiser would be brought into Court to testify as to their opinion of value.  Then, the Judge (or jury) hearing the case, would deliberate and make a decision about the value to be placed on the house. 

In the collaborative model, both parties would agree to use one jointly selected appraiser, and both parties would agree to be bound by the value determined by the appraiser.  At the end of each process (both trial and collaboration) a value for the house has been determined and both parties are bound by that number.  The difference is that in the collaborative model, the community estate has expended money for one appraiser rather than two, and has not incurred witness fees for anyone.  Added to the savings in expense and time, the parties have also maintained control over the process and have kept it completely private and confidential among themselves (everything that happens in Court is open to public scrutiny).


Contact Information

Michael P. O’Reilly, PC
500 N. Shoreline Suite 604 N.
Corpus Christi, Texas 78471
Office: 361-887-7444
Fax:      361-882-7463
Email: Mike@oreillyfamilylaw.com


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