Is Collaborative Law Binding?

If you are approaching a divorce in North Carolina, you might be considering collaborative law. However, you might have a few concerns about this process. First and foremost, you may be wondering whether this legal process is actually binding. When you consider the fact that this entire process happens outside of a courtroom, it can be easy to feel a little uncertain about the legitimacy of it all. Does a collaborative divorce really carry the same legal “weight” as a litigated divorce? Is a collaborative divorce the “real deal,” so to speak?

If you are looking for a little extra information on collaborative divorce, your best bet is to simply speak with a qualified attorney. Ideally, you should book a consultation with a trained collaborative divorce lawyer in North Carolina, as our legal professionals have considerable knowledge on this subject. Not only can we answer any questions that you might have, but we can also help you move forward with your collaborative divorce once you are ready. Remember, internet research only gets you so far. If you really want to take your divorce seriously and educate yourself about your legal options, you need to speak with a professional.

The Separation Agreement

The main goal of collaborative divorce is to create a separation agreement – also known as a divorce agreement. This is a legal contract that includes all of the various conditions of your divorce. It will cover things like property division; laying out who gets the family home, how the family business will be divided, and so on. It will also cover things related to children, such as the amount and duration of child support, the specifics of the child custody arrangement, and so on. It may also cover alimony – otherwise known as spousal support.

Make no mistake, this separation agreement is legally binding once it is signed by both spouses and approved by a judge. The agreement will be drafted by trained lawyers who have plenty of experience with collaborative divorce. If you choose this process, your attorney will work with your spouse’s attorney to draft this agreement in a proper, accurate manner. Even though this process takes place behind closed doors and away from the courtroom, the separation agreement is legally binding, and both spouses must adhere to its terms after the divorce has been finalized.

When is a Separation Agreement NOT Legally Binding?

With all that said, the separation agreement does not become legally binding until it is approved by a judge in a brief but important hearing. The judge will review the contents of the separation agreement to make sure everything is in order. If the attorneys have drafted this agreement correctly, there should be no issues, and the judge should sign off on the agreement very quickly. However, there are a few situations in which the judge may invalidate the agreement. First of all, you should know that the court has the final say on all matters related to children. Even though spouses have a considerable amount of freedom when creating separation agreements, courts may step in when they feel the child’s best interests are not being respected.

In addition, a judge may invalidate a separation agreement for other reasons. For example, spouses cannot be coerced or manipulated into signing an agreement they do not fully understand or agree with. If there is any evidence of this misconduct, a judge will likely reject the agreement. Separation agreements cannot force either spouse to do anything illegal. This is an important thing to remember when drafting your agreement. Finally, separation agreements can only compel the spouses to take various actions. These documents cannot compel third parties to do anything. For example, the separation agreement cannot require banks or financial institutions to take certain actions regarding funds belonging to either spouse.

Enlist the Help of a Qualified Attorney Today

If you have been searching the North Carolina area for a collaborative law attorney, look no further than Arnold & Smith, PLLC. Over the years, we have helped many divorcing spouses in the Tar Heel State, and we know that you may have all kinds of questions about the collaborative law process. The details of this process can be quite confusing to many, especially since the majority of people are not legal experts. Fortunately, you can make use of our extensive knowledge and ask us as many questions as you would like. During your initial consultation, we will assess your unique situation and recommend the best possible course of action. Reach out today to get started.