Traditionally, there have been two paths to divorce in North Carolina – the simple divorce is a quick, uncontested divorce that just requires the filing of paperwork, and the contested divorce in which matters related to child custody, spousal support, and property division is left to a judge to decide on the settlement. The contested divorce is a often a lengthy, expensive, and stressful experience in which both parties feel pitted against one another in order to get the settlement they want. The outcome is seldom beneficial for both which often leads to bitterness and resentment.
Fortunately, there is a third option called a collaborative divorce. In this option, both parties agree to negotiate the terms of divorce together, with the help of their individual Winston-Salem collaborative divorce attorneys.
Unlike traditional divorce, a collaboration means that there is no litigation and all activity takes place outside of a courtroom. Both parties hire their own legal representation and then sign a document stating that if a settlement cannot be reached through mediation and negotiation, the attorneys will end existing representation, and both parties will hire new counsel to represent them in court.
The goal of a collaborative divorce lawyer is to help their client determine goals and set levels of compromise before negotiation begins, then help mediate the negotiation process to keep proceedings civil and productive. Additionally, the lawyers can connect the couple with unbiased resources to help the couple make the best decisions. Unlike in court, these are not witnesses designated to help one side over the other, instead, they are working with both parties equally. Experts include:
There are several benefits to choosing a collaborative divorce law firm over litigation. The main reason is that collaboration is a more peaceful, less stressful experience than litigation. Instead of the win-lose focus of litigation and trying to get the judge to see one side over the other, both parties work together to mutually benefit themselves and their family.
Collaboration is especially helpful for couples with children. Being able to negotiate support and custody that works for everyone and factors in the family’s unique situation and needs leads to a much more satisfying outcome. Additionally, a collaborative family law attorney can both parties maintain relationships with extended families and social support networks. This leads to a healthier environment for the children who are seeing their parents working together rather than tearing each other apart.
An additional benefit to collaboration is that it’s often much shorter and less expensive than litigation. There’s no witnesses to call or court dates to be concerned with. In fact, collaborative lawyers can help complete the process in one-fourth the time as a contested divorce.
Collaboration has numerous benefits, but it is not right for every couple. Before selecting a collaborative divorce law firm, it’s important to take stock of your unique situation. Can you and your spouse realistically work together to establish a satisfying divorce agreement? If you and your spouse are unwilling to compromise on certain issues or you simply can’t be around one another and have a healthy discussion, litigation and a judge’s decision may be the best option.
If you would prefer to end your marriage amicably and without the stress and expense of a contested divorce, collaboration may be right for you. A collaborative divorce lawyer can work with you to help you protect your best interests in a way that supports a harmonious, beneficial outcome.