Rhonda Cleaves Receives Best Lawyers Recognition
I am proud to share that for the fourth year in a row, I have been recognized as a recipient of the Best Lawyers® designation in Collaborative Law and Family Law. This recognition is especially important to me because of my work in the Collaborative Divorce field. Having practiced family law for 13 of my 23 years in law practice, I began handling collaborative divorce cases when the process was in its infancy and no statutes yet existed to cement it as part of Texas legal doctrine. Few family law attorneys and even fewer members of the public knew of its existence.
Because the Collaborative Divorce Process is now codified as a specific legal process in the Texas Family Code, all family law attorneys should educate clients about the option of a Collaborative Divorce; many still do not. As a result, many divorcing couples are not aware that there is a legal option available to them that keeps them out of court and allows them the privacy and flexibility to create a settlement that is unique to their specific family. Since 2006, I have remained passionate about educating as many families as possible about the option and benefits of Collaborative Divorce.
Not all family law attorneys are trained in the Collaborative Divorce method. As law students, all aspiring attorneys are trained in the method of positional advocacy and sent out to fight in the courtroom in a win or lose battle. This method simply does not work for families. No one side wins in a litigated divorce case; and for those couple with children, those children walk away as the real losers of the divorce war. The far majority of couples want the ability and opportunity to work out a settlement. For this reason, I chose several years ago to stop litigating cases and instead focus my law practice on what clients really want – informed settlement. I have worked hard over the years to sharpen my settlement skills and focus my ongoing lawyer education requirements on the art of settling – especially in the field of Collaborative Divorce.
This circles me back to my recognition in Best Lawyers® for my work in Collaborative Divorce. Unlike most family law attorneys, I have dedicated my Plano divorce practice to collaborative law and the settlement of divorce cases. While most family law attorneys continue to litigate, afraid of turning potential clients away; I specifically choose to not litigate. This distinction from Best Lawyers® is a recognition and affirmation of my passion to represent divorcing families in a way that best preserves their most important relationships and set up their children for a more successful future.