The Law offices of Arnold & Smith - John Price Carr House
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Dilworth Collaborative Divorce

If you know someone who has been involved in a divorce in Dilworth, North Carolina recently, you may have heard the term “collaborative divorce.” An alternative dispute resolution (ADR) method, collaborative divorce has become more and more popular in the United States, and North Carolina is no exception to this trend. Collaborative divorce is a good option for couples that do not want to go through traditional divorce litigation proceedings to resolve their marital disputes. Collaborative divorce is often less formal, less time consuming, and less costly than traditional litigation divorce.

How Collaborative Divorce Differs

While there are other ADR options for resolving a Dilworth marital dispute, collaborative divorce is a combination of litigation and other ADR methods. While similar to other ADR methods, collaborative divorce stands out in several ways. First, collaborative law requires that a couple hire separate family law attorneys to assist with the process. In fact, the parties may jointly hire non-legal professionals to help hammer out important issues in the marital dispute. A collaborative divorce addresses all issues involving the dispute including finances, child custody, child support, alimony, and property distribution, among others. Second, collaborative divorce requires complete disclosure of financial information to the other side during the process. Third, the parties must sign a collaborative law pledge that outlines the guidelines, and other requirements of the parties for the process to move forward and requires an abstinence from pursuing litigation while engaged in the collaborative divorce process.

Understanding Collaborative Divorce

Before starting the process of collaborative divorce, the couple and all professionals involved, including each spouse’s respective attorney and consulting experts, must sign a participation agreement or collaborative law pledge. The participation agreement requires the full disclosure of financial information by each party as well as full confidentiality. The agreement also requires that the couple reach an agreement in writing on all issues before deciding to go to court. Moreover, the agreement mandates that all professional parties involved — attorneys and non-legal consultants — withdraw their professional services should either spouse decide to proceed with traditional divorce litigation. Once all issues regarding the marital dispute are resolved, the finalized separation agreement is drafted and executed. Then, each spouse’s attorney submits the required paperwork so that a North Carolina court can issue an official divorce decree.

Collaborative Divorce vs. Mediation

The focus of the divorce mediation process is on the role of the mediator, who facilitates an agreement between the two spouses. During divorce mediation, the mediator does the legwork to find common ground between the couple, convey information back and forth between them, provide suggestions to both sides, decide what to share with one party or the other, what to highlight during discussions with one or the other, and more. Oftentimes the mediator is critical to successful divorce mediation. During a divorce mediation process, the couple does not directly collaborate with one another. On the contrary, the parties rely on the skills and expertise of the mediator, who is not necessarily an attorney, to persuade and broker a settlement.

On the other hand, the focus of collaborative divorce is not on any one person involved but, instead, the collaborative process in and of itself. This ADR method is more focused on participants’ collective ability to reach common ground. Collaboration guides the discussions, negotiation, efforts, and the available options to resolve the marital dispute. The collaborative divorce process mandates that the parties listen to one another. They must also listen to their lawyers and any jointly hired consultants in order to achieve an agreeable resolution. Collaborative divorce requires that the participants see, hear, and understand the other side’s perspective.

While there are many positives to collaborative divorce, there are also some downsides. Mainly, if the collaboration is not successful, or does not result in an agreed upon divorce settlement, the couple will have to start all over with a new divorce lawyer. The result could be added expense and delay during an already difficult time. A failed collaborative divorce may also result in a more contentious litigated divorce due to disillusionment of the parties.

Collaborative Divorce Attorneys

If you and your spouse, or someone you know, is interested in learning more about collaborative divorce process in Dilworth or other parts of North Carolina, contact the family law attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC. We can help you resolve your marital dispute. Our family law attorneys can assist whether you choose divorce mediation, collaborative divorce, or traditional litigation. Contact our firm today to schedule your initial evaluation with one of our skilled family law attorneys.