When enough is enough, what do you do next?
For many people who are considering separation and divorce the hardest decision to make is the actual decision to separate, but when you have had enough what do you do next? Years ago, separating from your spouse meant you had to hire an attorney and air your dirty laundry in a public courtroom. Most people do not like conflict, and litigation can be expensive, time-consuming, and the results unpredictable. Additionally, divorce is very personal. Litigating sensitive private family issues can be emotionally draining on even the most stoic of clients.
Collaborative law is a way for you to resolve family conflict without court. It is a solutions-based approach that has been around since 1990, and North Carolina adopted its own Collaborative Law statute in 2003. While the collaborative approach does not remove conflict, and the process is still difficult emotionally, the process allows you and your spouse to resolve your differences privately and with dignity.
So, what is collaborative law and how does it differ from traditional ways to resolve disputes? Collaborative Law is a process that allows you and your spouse, your attorneys, along with other professionals on your team to create a safe and unpressured environment to explore and create settlements in a way that works for your family. Sometimes your resolution may not even be an option in an adversarial trial or through traditional negotiations. There will be rough spots, but the lawyers in the collaborative practice are trained to help you work through the rough spots.
Because legal, emotional, and financial issues often intersect in family law cases, the collaborative practice builds solutions by utilizing the assistance of mental health and financial professionals, allowing you to choose the professionals you need for your particular circumstances. Along with you, this team of professionals will help you establish intentions and goals and stay on task to reach them.
Collaborative Law’s success is measured by reaching a workable, long-lasting agreement specifically for your family. The process is built on transparency, candor, and respect between the parties regarding all issues.
What are the benefits of the Collaborative Process?
- Accepting responsibility
- Participating in problem-solving
- Engaging in a team approach to resolve differences
- Shielding children from the court system
- Maintaining the private, confidential, process
- Avoiding uncertainties in outcomes
How does the collaborative approach differ from traditional negotiations? Here is an example of how the collaborative process might work:
You, your spouse, and the respective attorneys for each of you may hold a series of meetings to sort out the issues and brainstorm about solutions for the family. If necessary, you and your spouse may also choose a neutral divorce coach to assist with the process. You may also choose a neutral child behavioral specialist to assist the family if your children are having trouble with the separation. If the marital estate is complicated or one of you does not have a good understanding of the marital finances, then you may choose to bring in a neutral financial consultant. Every person who becomes part of your team of professionals has been trained in the collaborative process so each understands the dynamic and the goal of finding solutions for the family.
There are many ways for separating spouses to resolve differences. What is important to consider, and where the collaborative process is likely a good choice, is how do you want to feel when you have resolved all the pending legal issues? If you want to maintain your respect, take responsibility, hold your head up high, and shelter your children from protracted litigation, then the collaborative process is perhaps your next step.
The material in this blog is not intended, nor should it be construed or relied upon, as legal advice. Please consult with an attorney if specific legal information is needed.