Collaborative Law: An Emotionally Intelligent Way to Divorce

Divorce often has the stereotype of being a combative and emotionally draining process that takes a long time and costs a lot of money. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. With the option of collaborative law in North Carolina, divorce doesn’t have to be destructive or exhausting.

Through our work as the North Carolina Collaborative Attorney Network (NC-CAN), our member attorneys throughout the state are committed to spreading awareness about the alternative dispute resolution method of collaborative divorce. We are committed to helping families across the state divorce in a healthy and emotionally intelligent way by spreading awareness about the benefits of collaborative law. Many of our member attorneys’ clients say that they not only achieved their goals but they also were also able to create a plan for their long-term success as an individual. We are proud that collaborative divorce has become known as an emotionally intelligent way to divorce for its ability to perceive and respect the emotional journey.

Rather that creating an emotionally draining experience, it is the goal of NC-CAN member attorneys to create an atmosphere where spouses approach a conversation with dignity. Here are three ways that the collaborative process provides a thoughtful and emotionally intelligent divorce experience:

A clear path through the process

Collaborative law takes away the question of “what comes next?” that you might experience with a traditional divorce through the court system. While there are not procedural rules like you might find in a court divorce, the collaborative process is focused around a structure. There is a step-by-step process as outlined by the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals that includes orientation meetings, joint meetings for roundtable discussions, information gathering, optional meetings with specialists or coaches, plan development for children involved, financial planning, and finalizing the agreement. In addition, spouses who embark on the collaborative divorce journey are required to sign a collaborative participation agreement. This written agreement states that each party will stay committed in settling the matter without resorting to litigation. They also agree to provide all relevant information during the process to reach a mutually acceptable settlement.

Detailed parenting and financial plans

Planning is an important aspect of the collaborative divorce process. Together with their respective attorneys, the divorcing spouses will develop several plans for their future. If the couple has children, they will work together to create a detailed co-parenting agreement that works for both parties. While this is sometimes a difficult step, the collaborative process focuses on the wellbeing of children and an organized parenting schedule. This plan will also include details on decision-making responsibilities, standards of conduct, education and childcare, and holiday scheduling. It will also provide details on how the parenting partners will address disputes and controversies in the future. While the plan is initially developed during the collaborative divorce process, it can be updated as needed with the help of their attorneys or a co-parenting coach.

In terms of financial planning, each spouse will create a plan for dividing their assets, debts, and properties. This plan can be quite involved depending on the complexity of finances. During this process, the spouses and their attorneys will work to create a distribution plan as well as a cash flow plan. This is also where child support or alimony may be discussed based on the financial needs of both spouses. In addition to distributing finances, spouses can also work individually with their attorneys to create a plan for their future to ensure that they have a budget that fits their interests. This allows each spouse the opportunity to create a long-term plan for financial stability after the divorce.  

Hope for the future during and after divorce

When spouses reach an agreement outside of court through the collaborative process, they are often able to move on without animosity toward their former partner. With the financial plan in place, as well as the parenting plan if children are involved, each spouse should feel confident in the way that they untangled their marriage. It is a priority for all involved in the collaborative process to reach a divorce agreement that is fair for both parties.

The collaborative process is known to save time and money compared to a traditional divorce that involves court resources. By eliminating the need for court dates, a judge’s time, and lengthy meetings with attorneys to strategize, collaborative law is often able to reduce the cost of a divorce. In addition, the process can also save time by outlining the process in advance. In fact, the process can sometimes be close to wrapping up by the time a couple reaches North Carolina’s required one year separation minimum. That means that if spouses begin to work through the process soon after they separate, they may be able to finalize their divorce agreement faster than they would if they chose divorce litigation.

For these reasons, and many more, NC-CAN is dedicated to spreading awareness about the benefits of collaborative law in North Carolina. Our member attorneys have offices across the state that focus on providing resources to couples considering separation or divorce. It is our organization’s purpose to ensure that divorcing spouses can find attorneys in North Carolina who can provide the highest quality collaborative process. Our nonprofit is made up of experienced members who are collaborative-trained attorneys. You can find a qualified and committed collaborative law attorney in your area by clicking here.

NC-CAN is also proud to offer a resource guide on our website which serves as an additional way to learn about the collaborative divorce process. This guide provides additional details including the role of professionals, the interest-based negotiation model, understanding collaborative practice groups, and the North Carolina Statutes governing collaborative law proceedings. All proceeds from the guide are used to increase public awareness for the collaborative divorce option.

Please visit our website,, to learn more about collaborative law and the benefits of divorcing without destruction.

*The contents of this blog are intended to share general information only and should not be construed as legal advice. 

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