Why Do Collaborative Divorce Negotiations Fail in North Carolina

Whether you are negotiating for a new business contract or a divorce, there is always a chance that the process will fail. Negotiations may break down for a number of reasons, and it is always a good idea to keep these potential issues in the back of your mind as you approach collaborative divorce in North Carolina. With the right strategy, you can avoid these pitfalls and make sure that your collaborative divorce goes as smoothly as possible.

Of course, avoiding these potential problems is always easier when you are working with a family law attorney in North Carolina who has plenty of experience with collaborative law. Our legal professionals can be a strong presence at the negotiating table, and in many cases, we can stop negotiations from breaking down. Using a wide range of strategies, we will strive to keep both parties satisfied so that the divorce agreement can be finalized.

Lack of Commitment

Negotiations often break down because spouses were never totally committed to the collaborative divorce process in the first place. It is important for spouses to approach this process with an open mind. They also need to be willing to “play by the rules,” so to speak, as collaborative law follows a specific formula to which all parties must adhere. Technically, these rules are not legally enforced in the same way that you might experience in a divorce trial. If spouses break the rules, they will not face the same level of consequences compared to a divorce trial. Instead of being held in contempt of court, they are simply violating a written contract.

This is why both spouses actually sign an agreement before the collaborative divorce even begins. This initial contract lays out the various rules of a collaborative divorce, and spouses who sign this agreement become aware of what happens if they violate them. The agreement also outlines what happens if the negotiations fail. To make a long story short, collaborative divorce has little chance of success if spouses approach it half-heartedly.


A successful collaborative divorce is built on a foundation of honesty and transparency. There is no official discovery phase when couples negotiate behind closed doors. When the attorneys of both spouses request and exchange information, they rely on the honor system. If one spouse withholds important information that pertains to finances, child support, or any other aspect of the marriage, it makes the entire process ineffective.

Concealing assets can be potentially easier during collaborative divorce, as the guilty spouse will face virtually no negative consequences for doing so. In contrast, they will be held in contempt of court if they attempt to do this during a divorce trial. This level of dishonesty can be frustrating for a spouse who knows for a fact that their ex is hiding something. Ultimately, this can lead to a complete breakdown in trust and the failure of negotiations.

Unwillingness to Compromise

When you approach collaborative divorce, you have to understand that you are not going to win every single argument. You are not going to walk away with every asset in the estate, and you may have to share custody. In other words, you have to understand that this is not about “winning” the negotiation. Remember, both parties have to sign the divorce agreement for it to be valid. If one spouse believes that they are getting the short end of the stick, they simply will not sign the contract.

In short, you need to be willing to compromise. Even though it might be frustrating to share custody or to divide certain pieces of property, it is important to be realistic. Whether you are negotiating for a loan, a new business contract, or a divorce, the goal is for both parties to walk away with a sense of satisfaction. Being willing to compromise does not mean you have to give everything away, but it does mean you need to pursue a certain degree of fairness and equity.

Enlist the Help of a Qualified Attorney Today

Collaborative law certainly has its fair share of advantages, but it is not perfect. That said, you can still approach this process with confidence, especially if you work alongside a qualified legal professional. If you have been searching North Carolina for a divorce attorney who has plenty of experience with collaborative divorce, look no further than Arnold & Smith, PLLC. Over the years, we have helped numerous spouses get through this process without unnecessary roadblocks. We know that negotiating with a former spouse is not always easy. But with a range of effective strategies, we can help you wrap up this process quickly and move on with your life. Book your consultation today at 704.370.2828.