Collaborative Divorce: The primary focus of my practice is now Collaborative Divorce because I believe it is the best option for most clients and families facing divorce. I tried over 50 jury trials and, as a trial lawyer, I loved every minute of it, but as a human being, I came to realize that a trial in a courtroom is no place to restructure a family who is having to go through a divorce. The courtroom will finalize a divorce, but the collateral damage done to a family, especially the children, in a trial, is something from which they (and future generations) many never recover. Even though it is estimated that over 95% of all cases are settled before trial, few people consider the difference in a case that is settled late in the process, after the client’s resources are used to prepare for a trial that will never happen, versus the parties’ resources being concentrated on developing a quality, durable settlement. About 25 years ago, Collaborative Divorce was created by a visionary lawyer who imagined a process which would help families work through the divorce process, as awful as it is, in a way that will help the family heal and continue to be a family, even if they are not all living in the same home. The theory of Collaborative Divorce is based on science from the Harvard Negotiation Project, which shows that settlements reached using what is called “interest-based” negotiation rather than “positional” negotiation, result in overall better outcomes for everyone involved.
My Philosophy of Family Law: If divorce becomes necessary, I help individuals and families restructure from a married family to a two-household family without ravaging their relationship, their children or their estate. If the parties have children they will always be “blood-kin” because they share “blood” through their children. My job is to help them transition to a sort of distant relative relationship; we may not always like our relatives but we do almost always love them and can work with them because we are “blood related.” I feel that the Collaborative Divorce model is the most effective method to accomplish this goal. However, if the clients cannot agree to use the Collaborative Divorce Model, I will still suggest every tool known to me to promote a peaceful, long-term resolution, including suggesting transitional and post-divorce family counseling, so that hopefully we can help them get down the road to healing. [Read More…]
Guardianship: I assist individuals and families in developing and implementing a long-term plan that will most effectively enable them to care for their incapacitated loved one in their personal and financial needs. [Read More…]
Probate: I assist individuals and families in developing and implementing a long-term estate plan that will meet their needs during their lifetime and most efficiently and cost effectively transfer their estate to those persons or entities they wish upon their death. This estate planning includes such documents as Medical Powers of Attorney (dealing with issues regarding health care), Statutory Durable Powers of Attorney (dealing with financial issues), Designation of Guardian in the Event the Need Arises, Physician’s Directive (Living Will), and other estate planning issues and documents. [Read More…]
Litigation: As described above, my primary focus is now on collaborative divorce in family law cases. However, in certain cases, litigation becomes a necessity. In those cases, after practicing nearly twenty-five years, I am ready and able to litigate if that becomes a necessity. As a lawyer, litigation is one of the most stimulating of all legal exercises. Drafting pleadings, written interrogatories, requests for production of documents, taking depositions, and going to trial is what most lawyers trained for in law school. Great television is made about famous trials. But in the end, huge amounts of money are spent and both parties usually feel that they have been ravaged by the judicial system. One collaborative lawyer stated that he believes it is much easier to go over to the Courthouse and “rip out the jugular vein of the other side” than to keep emotions in check for hours at a time during the collaborative negotiation process and resolve the case through that type of diplomacy.
Final Note: A couple of years ago, I was involved in a three-week custody and property trial in a divorce case. All the attorneys in the case had tried to persuade the parties to settle prior to trial, but both parties desired to have a trial. About two-thirds through the trial, my client, the husband, asked to speak to me in the conference room outside the courtroom. That client broke down and cried at that point, saying that it was not possible to understand prior to trial how painful and destructive it would be. That client won the case, but after hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent on attorneys, expert witnesses, and the litigation process. At that time, my client asked to tell all my future clients to do whatever you possibly can to avoid the cost to the family relationship and the family estate that comes with trial.
- Awarded “Community Partner Award” by the Denton Family Resource Center for her work on the “For Kid’s Sake” program, the county sponsored parenting class for divorcing parents (2006)
- Named “Bar Member of the Year” by the Denton County Bar Association (2004-2005)
- Denton County Bar Association named “Best Bar” by the State Bar of Texas during presidency (1993-1994)
- Named “Attorney of the Year” by the Greater Denton Legal Assistants Association (1993)
Author/Speaker/Course Director/Collaborative Law Trainer
- Interview regarding Collaborative Law given on the Podcast for OverDivorce.Com
- Course Director and Presenter at the Texas Bar CLE Collaborative Law Course 2009 co-delivering “The Splitting Syndrome in Collaborative Cases” with David Bouschor, II, MaryAnn Kildebeck and Steve Walker.
- Collaborative Law trainer with New Paradigm Training, offering interdisciplinary training for legal professionals, mental health professionals, financial professionals and their staff.
- Co-speaker with brother Wes Milner, presenting the Stu Webb Lecture (plenary session) at the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals 9th Annual Forum in New Orleans, Louisiana, October 18, 2008. Their presentation is entitled: JUSTICE VS. PEACE AND RECONCILIATION: Have we been asking the wrong question all along? Hear the audio file…
- Presenter at Tarrant County Association of Mediators, May 19. 2008 on The Pitfalls of Settlement Respecting the Attorney/Client Relationship. See the TCAM July 2008 Newsletter
- KERA talk show “Think” with Kris Boyd – March 26, 2008 – Collaborative Law and the Les`s-Messy Divorce – Camille Milner and Dallas attorney Kevin Fuller interview on the history, trends, and positive outcomes of the process of Collaborative Law
- Co-Course Director for the Collaborative Law Institute of Texas Spring Retreat February (2008)
- 2008 Collaborative Law Institute of Texas Spring Conference: “Fine Wine on a Beer Budget: A Checklist to Facilitate Collaborative Law Cases for the Middle Income Divorce” [co-authored and presented with David S. Bouschor, II] (February, 2008)
- 8th Annual Forum of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals, Toronto, Canada: “Collaborative Law in One Hundred Years: Historic Relic or Cultural Icon?” [co-authored and presented with David S. Bouschor, II] (October, 2007)
- Co-Course Director for the First Annual Denton County Collaborative Professionals’ Spring Retreat (May, 2007)
Collaborative Law Trainer for the Texas Wesleyan Law School, Fort Worth, Texas (September, 2007)
- Presenter: First Annual Denton County Collaborative Professionals Spring Retreat (2007)
2006 Collaborative Law Institute of Texas Spring Retreat: “Debunking the Myths Collaborative Law” [co-authored and presented with David Bouschor, II and Janice Green] (2006)
- Dallas County Bar Association Family Law Section: “How to Create and Manage a County Mediation Program” (2006)
- 31st Annual Advanced Family Law Course (Texas): “How to Run Your Hamburger Stand or Your Collaborative Practice” (2005)
- State Bar of Texas Bar Leaders’ Conference: “How to Create and Manage a County Mediation Program” (2005)
- State Bar of Texas Bar Leaders’ Conference: “How to Effectively Run a Medium-Sized Bar Association” (2004)
- 28th Annual Advanced Family Law Course (Texas): “Passing the Board Certification Exam” (2002)
- Denton County Family Law Section: “Developing and Implementing a Parenting Class for Divorcing Parents” (2002)
- Member, Denton County Bar Association, 1985-present
- Secretary-Treasurer, Denton County Bar Association, 1991-1992
- Vice President, Denton County Bar Association, 1992-1993
- President, Denton County Bar Association, 1993-1994
- Member, State Bar of Texas
- Member, Family Law Section of the State Bar of Texas and Denton County Bar Assoc.
- Member, Texas Academy of Family Law Specialists
- Member, Alternative Dispute Resolution Section of the State Bar of Texas
- Member, Real Estate, Probate & Trust Section of the State Bar of Texas and Denton County Bar Association
- Member, State Bar College
- Board Certified—Family Law—Texas Board of Legal Specialization
- Member, Denton County Collaborative Family Lawyers
- District 14 Representative, Local Bar Leaders Committee, State Bar of Texas
- Member, International Association of Collaborative Professionals (IACP)
- Member, Board of Directors, Collaborative Law Institute of Texas (CLI-TX)
- Selected Member Super Lawyers since 2005
Contact A Denton County Collaborative Family Law Attorney