The “new normal” has become a common phrase when referring to life after the COVID-19 global pandemic. Over the past two years, our worlds have changed in many ways. That included a shutdown and backlog of cases through the North Carolina Court System. While many criminal and civil cases were impacted, including traditional divorce litigation and family court matters, families who chose Collaborative Law had a different experience. Since the Collaborative Process is an alternative dispute resolution, these types of family law cases don’t rely on the court system. They already take place out of court and the families involved don’t ever step foot into a courtroom. Those who used Collaborative Law for divorce or other family law matters weren’t subjected to court delays due to the pandemic.
North Carolina Collaborative Attorney Network (NC-CAN) collaboratively trained member attorneys still followed statewide directives and social distancing protocols, yet their cases were able to proceed on schedule using virtual methods of meetings, negotiations, and discussions. This concept has always been an option for collaboratively trained attorneys, but became a necessity during COVID-19. Even after restrictions loosened, virtual family law processes retained popularity – especially for divorcing spouses. As a result, NC-CAN member attorneys are continuing to offer these types of virtual services at their individual family law practices. (You can view a list of NC-CAN member attorneys and their law offices by clicking here.)
Like many industries, these virtual meetings have now become part of our “new normal” in the Collaborative Law field. Here are several reasons why you and your spouse may consider choosing a virtual divorce with an NC-CAN member attorney:
The Collaborative Divorce Process is already more affordable and timelier than a traditional divorce through litigation. At first, it may seem like adding a virtual component to the divorce process would slow it down, but that’s not the case with out-of-court proceedings. With a virtual divorce option through Collaborative Law, the process continues to move quickly without court fees or additional legal fees. This is made possible by avoiding lengthy court appearances, not needing a judge’s time, and not having to schedule court dates based on others’ availability.
While NC-CAN has member attorneys in many communities across the state of North Carolina, there is still plenty of room to grow. Our goal is to have a member attorney in every major city throughout the state; however, until that becomes a reality, we are proud to offer virtual divorce options for couples no matter where they are located. Each spouse will find their own collaboratively trained attorney and will follow the same step-by-step process as outlined by the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals. This 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. All of this can be done in a virtual setting, so it is easy to work with an attorney, even if they’re located in a different city or town.
If you and your spouse are living in different areas, perhaps several hours away, it may be difficult to arrange in-person joint meetings with attorneys. For divorcing spouses who are committed to settling their divorce out of court through consciously uncoupling, a virtual Collaborative Law divorce may be the perfect option. Each spouse can meet with their respective attorney virtually or over the phone as necessary. Then, when it’s time to have the four-way roundtable discussion, this can also be done in a virtual setting so no travel is involved for anyone on the call. If additional meetings are needed with specialists or coaches to discuss finances, mental health, or co-parenting, these can also be handled virtually.
While face-to-face meetings and communication are often preferred in the legal field, sometimes virtual options provide a more convenient and accessible format. Oftentimes, divorce clients are able to take virtual meetings with their attorneys before work, on lunch breaks, or after work, so they’re not spending much time away from their jobs. A recent study found that traditional divorce litigation is impacting corporate America because of how much time employees are spending away from work to handle their legal matters. As a result, it’s causing corporate revenue loss and companies are starting to notice. Collaborative Law is becoming known as a healthier alternative to this and employers are realizing the benefits of out-of-court divorce options.
Member attorneys with NC-CAN have offices across the state that focus on providing resources to couples considering separation or divorce. While we welcome in-person clients in our member attorneys’ service areas, we are honored that the Collaborative Law Process is inclusive for all families in North Carolina. No matter where you live in the Tar Heel State, our attorneys can find a way to serve you. Our nonprofit is made up of experienced members who are collaborative-trained attorneys. You can find a qualified and committed Collaborative Law attorney 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, www.nc-can.org, 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.