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Is a Collaborative Divorce Right for You?

An alternative to going through litigation in North Carolina’s court system, collaborative divorce is a new and innovative way for divorcing couples in Plaza-Midwood to resolve their disputes. Collaborative divorce gives the soon-to-be-ex-spouses the opportunity to come to a resolution on their legal separation and divorce in an arena that encourages peaceful and respectful behavior. Moreover, collaborative divorce allows the parties to resolve their issues without seeking court intervention. Below is some information on collaborative divorce and how it may benefit you.

Collaborative Divorce Explained

When couples in Plaza-Midwood or other parts of North Carolina decide to legally separate or divorce one another, they are obligated to find a way to resolve all matters involving the legal change in their marital status. This includes issues involving child custody, child support, post-separation spousal support, alimony, and division of marital property.

Collaborative divorce is a type of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) but different than arbitration or mediation. In arbitration, one party wins as an arbitrator decides the final terms of the divorce. In mediation, a neutral third-party helps facilitate the divorce, with or without the spouses having attorneys. In collaborative divorce, however, each spouse has his or her own attorney who helps facilitate an amicable resolution along with the help of trained professionals. The trained professionals who may be jointly hired by the couple may include financial specialists, therapists, child counselors, and accountants, among others. During the collaborative divorce process, all participants work together for a common goal — to find a win-win solution that resolves all contested issues between the spouses.

Participation Agreement

Before starting the collaborative divorce process in North Carolina the couple enters into and mutually signs a participation agreement or collaborative law pledge. Some examples of the terms found within a collaborative divorce participation agreement include stipulations that:

  • The collaboration process is non-adversarial;
  • The parties will not seek judicial intervention;
  • There will be third-party involvement;
  • The children will be insulated from the process;
  • The collaboration may not result in a settlement;
  • The parties come in good faith and with integrity;
  • Misrepresentation or withholding information can result in counsel’s withdrawal from the matter;
  • Attorneys involved in the collaboration can never represent the clients in court on the matter;
  • Cancellation of the collaboration must be notified to the attorneys in writing; and
  • The parties pledge to negotiate and engage the spirit of collaboration.

In addition to the above, the participation agreement or collaborative law pledge also requires the parties to:

  • Exchange full and complete financial information so that each party can make a fully informed decision when negotiating; and
  • Maintain absolute confidentiality during the collaboration process so that each party may fully express his or her concerns and needs.

While court involvement is not present during the collaboration process, a North Carolina family law judge must approve the divorce agreement the parties agreed upon prior to issuing a final divorce decree.

Deciding if Collaborative Divorce is Right for You

It is important to understand that collaborative divorce empowers each spouse to dissolve the marriage in a manner that is dignified, less stressful, and less costly than litigation in the court system. Keep in mind that any divorce has the potential of being resolved through collaboration. That being said, collaborative divorce should be seriously considered if both spouses:

  • Agree it is key to protect the children from the harm that litigation can cause them;
  • Put a high value on each one’s personal responsibility in resolving their issues;
  • Want to keep a respectful relationship during and after the divorce process;
  • Can focus on a positive solution that works for the entire family; and
  • Sees the importance of fully disclosing accurate information about financials.

If you or your spouse are not able to work in such a manner, then a collaborative divorce may not be right for you.

Legal Help in Your Divorce

If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about collaborative divorce process in Plaza-Midwood or anywhere else in the greater Charlotte area, contact the family law attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC. Our experienced professional legal team, which includes board-certified family law attorneys as well as a child welfare law specialist, is ready to help you resolve your marital dispute in a dignified way. Do not let the next chapter of your life fall into the hands of North Carolina’s court system, contact our firm today to schedule your initial evaluation with one of our skilled family law attorneys.