What Is a “Collaborative Divorce”?
In North Carolina, a collaborative divorce is not exactly the same thing as an amicable divorce. A collaborative law proceeding is a creation of the North Carolina legislature, codified in Article 4 of the Divorce and Alimony chapter of the North Carolina General Statutes. In a collaborative proceeding, both spouses and their lawyers sign an agreement stating that neither side will file suit. If an agreement is not reached through the collaborative process and a civil lawsuit is started, neither attorney is allowed to represent either party in court. In addition, any information gathered and exchanged during the collaborative process is inadmissible in a lawsuit. These provisions are designed to encourage spouses to stick with the negotiations. Shouting “See you in court!” means that both sides have to start all over with hiring new lawyers; exchanging all the financial information again; and hiring new appraisers, child therapists, or other experts. Obviously, this makes the process much more expensive, and the idea is that no one would be crazy enough to go through all that work and expense a second time.
You can have a cooperative, amicable, negotiated resolution of your issues without using collaborative law procedures. Our approach favors negotiated settlements with a family mediator to save costs. But if you and your spouse are not able to reach an agreement despite everyone’s best efforts, we want to be able to represent you in court later on, and we want to be able to use the appraisals and reports you have already paid for. The goal is to get the best result, at the lowest cost, in the least amount of time.