Collaborative Divorce Advantages

Going through a divorce can be extremely difficult. In part because you are declaring your legal marriage be terminated and likely ending what used to be a loving relationship. The very fact that your relationship with your spouse is ending can result in heightened emotions and turmoil during this process. This is particularly true if you are in the middle of a contentiously litigated divorce proceeding. For all of these reasons, North Carolina provides an alternative to divorce litigation or arbitration. This alternative dispute resolution is known as collaborative divorce.

Using Collaborative Divorce

North Carolina law, specifically Chapter 50 of the North Carolina General Statutes, governs collaborative divorces. This state law provides an alternative to traditional divorce proceedings through the court system for couples facing imminent divorce in University City and throughout all of North Carolina. One public policy reasoning for collaborative divorce is to reduce the use of the already limited judicial resources. The main idea behind collaborative divorce is that couples have the opportunity and ability to work together and come to mutually agreed upon terms to the divorce in a civilized manner. Of note, even though in collaborative divorce the North Carolina court system does not get involved in the distribution of marital assets, it does have to approve the mutually agreed upon settlement agreement put together by the spouses at the end of the process.

A couple may consider collaborative divorce not just when they are already engaged in the process of separation and divorce but also when they are in the early stages of considering their options for separation. In fact, a couple may want to seek out collaborative divorce to understand the legal implications of a divorce prior to entering into an official divorce proceeding in North Carolina. The role of each spouse’s attorney in the collaborative divorce process is different than during a regular, more traditional divorce process. In the former, the attorney acts more like a mediator or facilitator rather than a litigator fighting an adverse party.

Before Engaging in Collaboration

All parties enter into a participation agreement before engaging in collaborative divorce wherein they stipulate that neither will file litigation on the matter. Should the case be unable to be resolved through the collaborative negotiation method, the lawyers agree under the participation agreement that the parties will need to retain new legal counsel to pursue further legal action. The participation agreement sets forth all of the rights and obligations of the parties involved. Typical provisions in the agreement include allowing the couple to hire neutral experts, such as those with knowledge in the financial field and mental health field, to assist with the divorce process.

North Carolina has particular requirements that must be met in order for a collaborative divorce agreement to be valid. This includes that the agreement contain the following, at a minimum:

  • Is memorialized in written form;
  • Be signed by both spouses as well as the attorneys individually representing them; and
  • Include a provision that allows the attorneys to withdraw from the matter should the collaborative divorce process not succeed (i.e., no settlement is reached).
Collaborative Divorce: Advantages

There are several reasons why a University City couple may choose to undergo collaborative divorce instead of litigation or arbitration. The most significant advantages of considering and going through a collaborative divorce process include:

  • Less stress: Because collaborative divorce avoids court proceedings that are involved in traditional divorces, the couples do not experience the stress that comes with litigation;

  • More control: Both parties are heavily involved in the terms of the divorce settlement in collaborative divorce, negotiating each aspect of the agreement instead of having a court make a decision for them;

  • Reduced expenses: Divorce litigation can be both expensive and lengthy, involving court costs as well as attorney’s fees. Coming to an agreement outside of court can keep these costs and expenses down, comparatively;

  • Better understanding: The likelihood that the couple understands the terms of the divorce agreement is higher in collaborative divorces because they are able to talk through each issue thoroughly before coming to an agreement.

The collaborative process can resolve all issues involving divorce in North Carolina. This can include alimony, child support, child custody, and distribution of assets. Collaborative divorce gives the couple more say and control over the terms of the final divorce settlement, even if a North Carolina court must approve the agreement prior to it becoming legally binding on the parties.

Board Certified Family Law Attorneys

If you are considering divorce in University City or anywhere else in the greater Charlotte region, contact the dedicated family law attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC. Our firm’s family law practice group has board-certified family law attorneys as well as a child welfare law specialist ready to help you through this difficult time.