The road to divorce is almost always difficult, but the process of ending your marriage does not need to be volatile or contentious. When you and your spouse decided to part ways, you did so understanding it was the best option for each other and your children. If you look at the divorce proceedings with the same mindset, you might realize that a traditional courtroom divorce is not right for you. If you and your spouse agree on all or many of the issues that need to be settled, you do not have to wait for a judge to make decisions for you. You can go through a collaborative divorce process, which allows you both to come to an agreement on the major issues like property division, child custody and support, and spousal support yourselves and then go to the judge only for final approval of the arrangement. If this process sounds appealing to you, contact the offices of LGBT Law of Winston-Salem for more information on how to get started.
What Is a Collaborative Divorce?
North Carolina law allows for collaborative law proceedings in regard to divorce. This is an alternative dispute resolution method that takes the place of going to court and letting the judge determine important issues on your behalf. The spouses and their legal counsel state in a legal collaborative divorce agreement they will resolve any disagreements related to the divorce themselves without judicial intervention. Because the parties are intended to work together through discussion of the issues to come to an agreement, each side can take advantage of having neutral financial experts and other professionals weigh in. By working with other professionals experienced in the financial and psychological ramifications of divorce, the spouses can figure out the best property settlement and division as well as the best arrangement for their children.
Most couples who take the collaborative process seriously and who fully understand the benefits of working out their issues this way end up with a settlement agreement. The final process of the divorce is to have the settlement agreement approved by a judge so that you can receive your final order dissolving the marriage.
The Benefits of a Collaborative Divorce
While the collaborative process is not right for everyone, it has some major advantages that spouses want to take advantage of.
- Less costly: Judicial divorce proceedings require attorneys to prepare and go to court numerous times over months or a year. Bills for this type of work can increase quickly. People who want to manage their budget while getting a divorce may be better able to do so with a collaborative process. An attorney will still bill for fact finding, administrative work, and attending discussions, but this type of divorce is usually faster than going to court and ends with a lower cost.
- Less paperwork: Because there are fewer decisions to be made by the court, there is generally less paperwork and filings. Instead of multiple motions and briefs throughout a divorce, a collaborative divorce requires only that the proceedings be started in civil court and the final settlement be brought to the judge for approval.
- More privacy: Divorce proceedings are made public, which means whatever is written in the divorce documents can be accessed by nosey neighbors or reporters. For individuals in the public eye, a collaborative divorce allows them to keep the private details of their family and children out of public documents. Additionally, the final settlement does not have to be entirely added to the divorce decree, keeping your settlement agreement private as well.
- More customized solutions: When the court decides divorce-related issues, it imposes the standards set by law. While the law may have been written with the best of intentions, it may not be what is right for you and your children. For instance, the division of property may not be what either of you really want or what is ideal for future tax ramifications. Collaborative divorce allows you and your spouse to come up with creative and customized solutions that fit you and your children’s needs.
- Easier on children: Angry and lengthy divorce proceedings can be dramatic for children, no matter how young and naïve or old and mature they seem. Collaborative divorce is generally much calmer and amicable between the parents, which means children see their parents working through a difficult situation together instead of arguing. Additionally, collaborative divorce can include child specialists who help the family handle the separation and build a plan for the future that keeps the children’s emotional and physical needs in mind.
What to Look for in a Collaborative Divorce Attorney
The role of an attorney in a collaborative divorce process is much different than during a contentious divorce. The lawyers are there to guide discussion when necessary, make sure their client’s rights are protected and their concerns heard. Because attorneys have experience in negotiations, they are able to identify each party’s major interests and suggest various resolutions. The attorneys representing the parties must agree to not serve as litigators for the divorce, except to go to court at the end for judicial approval of the settlement. If the spouses cannot reach a full settlement agreement and need to move to judicial proceedings, the collaborative divorce attorneys must withdraw from the case.
When looking for a collaborative divorce attorney, look for someone who is eager to help you through this process calmly and amicably. You need an attorney who will support you while advancing your interests and sticking to the negotiation method.
The experienced North Carolina divorce attorneys of LGBT Law of Winston-Salem understand how hard deciding to divorce is and how the thought of fighting in court makes it even worse. You do not have to oppose your spouse across a courtroom. Instead, you and your spouse can work together with the help of our experienced divorce attorneys and other neutral experts to find the solutions that are right for you. Call the offices of LGBT Law of Winston-Salem today, or contact us online for a free case evaluation.