If you are one of the many couples contemplating divorce right now, it is worth considering a collaborative divorce. Collaborative divorce is a process that works toward the goal of settling the separation or divorce out of court. When a couple uses collaborative divorce, they work together in a non-adversarial way to try to come to an agreement regarding the terms of their divorce.
If you have decided that it is time to pursue getting a divorce, collaborative divorce could be right for you. Keep in mind that collaborative divorce is a voluntary process. In other words, both spouses will need to agree to engage and support the collaborative process. The collaborative divorce process starts when a couple, along with their lawyers, signs a written collaborative divorce agreement called a participation agreement.
Collaborative divorce will help you cut down your costs. You will likely cut the length of time of your divorce by using a collaborative divorce. The following are benefits of collaborative divorce:
The participation agreement will include a list of commitments to the non-adversarial nature of the collaborative divorce process. Both parties will need to agree to disclose all of the information and documents that are relevant to the issues in the divorce that the couple needs to resolve.
For example, each spouse will need to provide all of necessary documentation and information related to their home, bank accounts, and other assets. It is important to not withhold any documents or information that is necessary to come to a settlement agreement. You, your spouse, and your respective lawyers will need to determine which property you and your spouse will keep after the divorce is completed. In order to do that, you will need to make a complete list of all of your assets.
Despite their best efforts, sometimes spouses are not able to come to a collaborative divorce agreement. Part of your participation agreement states that your attorneys will withdraw from your case if you are not able to reach a settlement agreement. When this happens, your case will need to go to court.
If you are able to come to an agreement with your spouse, you will need to petition a Raleigh court to finalize the divorce. A North Carolina judge will need to sign the agreement. You will be able to keep your contact with your spouse manageable and brief. Once a court enters your divorce decree, your divorce will be finalized without your having to submit evidence, engage in pretrial maneuvers, or engage in often stressful litigation.
Before your collaborative divorce meetings, each party can prepare an agenda for what will be discussed. Divorcing spouses may wish to set time aside to meet privately or with his or her lawyer. The parties are in charge of determining how to go about the process, giving them more control.
Divorce litigation is often adversarial and complicated. Collaborative divorce is appealing to people who do not want to engage in a divisive and lengthy court battle. In order for a collaborative divorce to work, however, both parties need to keep being honest and upfront. Keeping the lines of communication open is incredibly important during the collaborative divorce process.
Part of keeping the lines of communication open is not taking advantage of mistakes that your spouse may make. If you or your lawyer notices an error in the drafting document that benefits you, you will need to point out the error so it can be corrected, instead of taking advantage of the error by remaining silent.
When both spouses agree that expert feedback is necessary, they can consult with a neutral advisor. In litigation, each party can call his or her own expert to advocate for his or her side. In the collaborative divorce process, experts remain neutral and do not exclusively support one party.
When the couple’s financial situation is complex, or in a high net worth divorce, accountants are often required. The first step in fairly dividing up property is to understand exactly how much property the couple has and to account for every asset, including retirement accounts, bank accounts, investment accounts, and property. Accountants can help the parties list all of their assets and divide their assets in a fair way. They can also help the parties understand their cash flow and how much each party is spending during the divorce process.
Child specialists are often necessary for both collaborative divorces and litigation. When both parties hire child specialists to provide a neutral assessment of the process and give feedback on what kind of parenting plan will work best for the needs of each child. One benefit of hiring neutral advisors is that your costs will be reduced. Instead of paying for two different experts, you will only pay for one expert who will provide neutral advice.
If you are able and willing to engage in a collaborative divorce, the benefits are tremendous. Collaborative divorce is more cost-effective than going through a divorce trial, but it is not always a good fit for every divorce case. You may want to consider whether or not you and your spouse will be able to come together to discuss the terms of your divorce.
When collaborative divorce works well, you, your spouse, and your children will benefit financially and emotionally. Contact our Raleigh collaborative divorce lawyers as soon as possible to schedule your initial consultation and learn if collaborative divorce is right for you.