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Keeping Your Dilworth Divorce Out of Court Through Collaborative Law

Collaborative divorce is a new method by which Dilworth couples, and others throughout North Carolina, can work with a team of trained legal and non-legal professionals to resolve marital disputes respectfully without going through the court system. Below is some general information on the collaborative divorce process to help you understand whether or not it is right for you.

Understanding the Process

Unlike any other method used to resolve marital disputes in Dilworth, collaborative divorce is a combination of divorce mediation and traditional litigation divorce. In fact, before even engaging in the collaborative divorce process, the couple and their respective attorneys must sign a “participation agreement” or “collaborative law pledge.” This document specifically lays out the ground rules for negotiations as well as the goals upon which to focus during the process. Some examples of agreed-upon terms that are included in a Dilworth collaborative divorce participation agreement are:

  • Openly and freely share financial and other information with the other side;
  • Come in to participate in the collaborative process in good faith;
  • Agree that the attorneys withdraw from the matter if the process does not result in a divorce settlement;
  • Jointly hire professional consultants to assist in the divorce settlement process;
  • Work to insulate the children from the divorce process;
  • Provide notice to the attorneys, in writing, should any party wish to stop the collaboration.

During the initial collaborative meeting, the parties share important financial information. Documentation provided may include pay stubs, pension funds, income tax returns, deeds and deeds of trust, financial account statements, retirement accounts, and/or credit card statements. In subsequent group meetings, the attorneys and consultants - such as property appraisers, business appraisers, tax advisers, accountants, mental health counselors, and/or child welfare specialists - address several matters of dispute. These issues may include:

  • The couple’s separation, if they are still living together in Dilworth;
  • Major and minor decisions addressing child custody and child support;
  • Any agreements on payment and amount of spousal support and/or alimony; and
  • How to distribute marital property, including assets and debts.
Benefits of Collaborative Divorce

Collaborative divorce brings numerous advantages for the couple that are not present in other methods of marital dispute resolutions available in Dilworth. One benefit is that each party has a separate attorney during the process looking out for the client’s best interest while still working for a common goal. This is particularly helpful if any power imbalance exists in the marital relationship. Separate legal representation is also effective if there are complicated issues in the divorce, whether financially, custody-wise, or regarding property. If the parties do not feel competent enough to work through these complex issues on their own in mediation - which does not require attorney involvement - then collaborative divorce is a good option.

Moreover, even if the Dilworth couple’s marital dispute is not too complicated, the parties may feel more comfortable and confident being able to meet and confer with a legal professional and obtain advice through every step of the collaborative divorce process. Having a Davidson collaborative divorce attorney at your side during this process can help you have more confidence in expressing your needs and concerns that are of importance to you during negotiation. Likewise, a collaborative divorce attorney can temper a client who tends to overtake the conversation as needed to keep negotiations running smoothly.

There are, of course, some disadvantages to using collaborative divorce. Collaborative divorce tends to be more expensive than divorce mediation; this is because mediation does not require the couple to hire separate legal representation nor professional consultants. In fact, divorce mediation does not mandate legal representation at all. Moreover, if the collaborative divorce is unsuccessful, the parties are forced to start all over with new attorneys should they choose traditional divorce litigation. This not only adds to the couple’s costs but also to the time spent trying to resolve the Dilworth marital dispute through collaboration. Finally, a failed collaboration may create even more animosity and contention between the parties because they feel there is no way to resolve their issues amicably and instead expect a heated lawsuit.

Dilworth Collaborative Divorce Attorneys

The collaborative divorce process might be right for your Dilworth marital dispute. The same is true for other couples anywhere else in the state of North Carolina. Contact the family law attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC so that our board-certified family law attorneys and child welfare law specialists can help you through this process. Contact our firm today to schedule your initial evaluation with one of our skilled family law attorneys.