IACP and Collaborative Practice Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

Collaborative Practice is truly changing the world for the better and that’s one of many reasons why this conflict resolution method and the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (IACP) were nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. North Carolina Collaborative Attorney Network (NC-CAN) member attorneys are excited to be part of this worldwide recognition that is highlighting the important work done in their offices, across the state, and globally. The North Carolina organization is made up of IACP members and Collaborative-trained attorneys who are passionate about spreading awareness for this type of law process statewide.

“Collaborative Practice is helping families around the world and right here in North Carolina,” shared Ashley Michael, managing attorney at Michael & Russell, PLLC in Wilmington and founding board member of NC-CAN. “To even be considered in this category is a testament for how this legal process can be transformative and change people’s lives for the better as they navigate a new normal.”

The Collaborative Process first came to North Carolina in the late 1990s. In 2003, the state legislature passed a bill recognizing Collaborative Law as an alternative to court divorce. At that time, lawmakers also defined the key components of the process. Collaborative Practice is a unique and voluntary dispute resolution model which provides families the opportunity to reduce the negative impacts of separation by working proactively and cooperatively. These teams consist of specially trained Collaborative legal, financial, and mental health professionals who educate, support, and guide couples to make their own lasting and respectful resolutions, without resorting to litigation or the intervention of judges, magistrates, or court personnel.

“How we talk to one another and how we handle ourselves when we disagree is a key focus for spouses and professionals who choose the Collaborative Divorce process. With the support of an interdisciplinary team, Collaborative encourages and enhances peaceful, respectful dialogue through challenging conflict. The court system, by contrast, discourages any civil dialogue and positions people for perpetual conflict,” shared NC-CAN member attorney Irene King of King Collaborative Family Law in Charlotte. King is also a member of the IACP Task Force on the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abductions and has presented this topic on behalf of the organization at IACP’s Forum in October 2022. The task force plans to explore the opportunities for Collaborative to expand into the arena of handling and resolving international child abduction matters in a future presentation.

“The Nobel Peace Prize nomination is a testament to Collaborative’s commitment to ensuring families work within a process designed to deescalate conflict and preserve relationships, even through the most challenging issues couples face in divorce,” adds King.

Many NC-CAN members chose to practice Collaborative after seeing the impact that litigation can have on families. Some attorneys previously practiced litigation and recognized the broken system while others have personal experience with divorce as an adult and/or child. As a result, NC-CAN member attorneys are passionate about Collaborative because it provides a path forward for divorce while leaving destruction and damage to families behind.

“This nomination is an overwhelming feeling of validation and gratitude,” shared NC-CAN founding member attorney Ashley-Nicole Russell, who was recently appointed to IACP’s International Campaign for Membership Committee. Russell owns AN|R Law: A Negotiated Resolution with locations in Greenville, Beaufort, Raleigh, and Wilmington and co-owns Michael & Russell with Ashley Michael in Wilmington. She wrote the book The Cure for Divorce Culture to explore the benefits of Collaborative Law while sharing research and data about long-lasting impact of divorce litigation. “As Collaborative professionals, we see the beautiful and amazing work that this process does every day for families as it keeps them as a whole unit, even though they may be in separate places, and creates stability and foundation for children and for people moving on,” she added.

Founded on the goal to make the Collaborative Process more accessible for divorcing spouses in North Carolina, NC-CAN continuously looks at ways to further its mission. IACP’s Nobel Peace Prize nomination shines a spotlight on how the Collaborative Divorce process positively impacts those who choose it by supporting them and their family while preventing unnecessary conflict in the short-term and long-term. This is often true for divorcing spouses who have children and need to develop co-parenting plans that work for both parents.

“As our society, and indeed our world, struggles with conflict of seemingly every kind, the best place to work on changing that is at the personal level. Our family is where we learn how to handle conflict,” explains NC-CAN founding board member Randolph (Tré) Morgan III of The Law Office of Randolph Morgan III in Raleigh. “IACP’s nomination for a Nobel Peace Prize acknowledges that working to improve how families resolve conflict inevitably improves how groups, societies, and nations resolve conflict. Collaborative Divorce is the path for families learning to handle conflicts in their toughest moment, and plants the seed of more positive and productive conflict resolution in that family’s new future.”

IACP is a global organization with members in 28 countries. The nonprofit works with its Collaborative community to create a more peaceful world. It also serves as an international resource for practitioners looking for continuing education, networking, and standards of practice.

“Client metamorphosis is the most rewarding part of the Collaborative process,” shares NC-CAN board member Robin M. Mermans of ROAD to RESOLUTION in Charlotte. “Clients generally walk through our doors fearful of the unknown. As practitioners, we have the privilege and honor to work with clients to help them identify their needs, discover interests, and find their voice.”

IACP, Collaborative Professionals, and Collaborative groups such as NC-CAN hope that this Nobel Peace Prize Nomination will help create global awareness and access to Collaborative Practice as a normalized dispute resolution model for anyone who seeks it, regardless of family structure, race, age, sexual orientation, gender, class, ability, language, and geography.

NC-CAN member attorneys have offices throughout the state to serve individuals and families in various regions. You can find a qualified and committed Collaborative Law attorney in your area by clicking here. In addition, Collaborative cases can be handled virtually as long as they’re taking place in the state of North Carolina. You can read about the virtual divorce process with Collaborative Law on our website by clicking here.

Through our professional mission-based work to spread awareness of the Collaborative Process across the state of North Carolina, we strive to provide resources and education not only to attorneys but also families. NC-CAN is 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. Proceeds from the guide support public awareness initiatives for the Collaborative Process. You can learn more about Collaborative Law in North Carolina by visiting our website, www.nc-can.org. To learn more about IACP and its global efforts to share information about Collaborative Practice, visit www.collaborativepractice.com.

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

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