Collaborative Divorce FAQ's

Frequently Asked Questions of Collaborative Family Law

At Irons and Irons, P.A., we know that many people may not understand the particulars of collaborative divorce. Compared to a litigated divorce, collaborative divorce has many elements that might seem unusual at first to the participants. To help with this, we’ve added some frequently asked questions below to people might have before pursuing a collaborative divorce in Greenville, NC.

What is a collaborative divorce?

Divorce Attorneys Greenville NC

Collaborative divorce is a problem-solving method of divorcing that works as an alternative to traditional divorce proceedings in that it encourages joint action, synergy, and coordination instead of confrontation.

Once broken down, it’s easy to see how collaborative divorce allows a couple to end their marriage with mutual grace and poise while also ensuring that there is an inherent level of regard for one another and truthfulness throughout the divorce process. Often referred to as ‘no court divorce’, the collaborative process is engineered to guide people to agree on differences and create unique solutions that would be best for each parties’ family members.
Collaborative divorce is founded on these three principals:

  • Pledging not to litigate disputes in court
  • An honest, voluntary, time-efficient exchange of relevant information with no formal discovery
  • A vow to work toward solutions that prioritize both parties’ children equally and openly

The process of a collaborative divorce isn’t entirely different from a traditional divorce however, the biggest difference being both spouses are committed to working out an agreement that everyone can be happy with without going to court. This is more of a mediation between the two parties that ends in a compromise and ultimately, a better outcome for the spouses and their family. Contact your Greenville, NC collaborative divorce attorney, Irons & Irons, to learn how we can be of help to you.

 

What makes an attorney a collaborative attorney?

Being a ‘collaborative attorney’ is considered a ‘state of mind’ by many other legal professionals. In other words, some attorneys are naturally collaborative and cooperative in nature. At the same token, true collaborative attorneys have undergone in-depth, extensive, and specialized training in the collaborative process. They’re also involved with local practice groups, such as the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals, which work to promote and maintain high standards in the practice of collaborative professionalism. If you have any other questions regarding collaboration training, Irons and Irons law group would love to answer them.

How can I get my spouse to participate in a collaborative divorce?

The choice to move forward with the collaborative divorce process must be voluntarily agreed upon by each party. By retaining separate collaboratively trained divorce attorneys, you can receive guidance and insight to effectively work towards a resolution together. Rather than speaking face-to-face about the process, you may be better off having a well-versed legal professional break down the details of the process to the opposing party. This method is often referred to as an educational consultation.

Can other professionals be involved in a collaborative divorce?

Each party does that the right to engage a divorce coach, child specialist, mediator, financial professional, or other professional that has been trained in collaborative law. Financial professionals are able to assist their parties’ division of assets, the division of liabilities, child support details and issues, and even provide intimate, in-depth analyses of tax consequences ad budgets.

Divorce coaches, on the other hand, can assist each party in ensuring communication issues are overcome, emotions are appropriately managed, co-parenting skills are developed, and parenting plans are constructed and followed. Divorce coaches have become more and more popular as time has gone on and are often considered an important resource to avoid potential parenting and communication roadblocks.

Collaborative Divorce Greenville NC Child specialists are able to meet with each parties’ children in order to understand their needs and any areas of parenting that could be improved on. By providing a voice for the children, child specialists are often able to parent details to light that may become an issue later the road. For example, if a child claims they need more help with their math homework, the child specialist will work with the child’s parent(s) to construct a plan focusing on the child’s math skills. The child specialist is also able to coach each parent to ensure that plan is being carried out as effectively and efficiently as possible.

Lastly, mediators are members of a third party that aid in the communicative facilitation between each party in an effort to reach an agreeable resolution. Keep in mind, each party is required to include unbiased professionals and unbiased professionals only. These supporting professionals are typically referred to as neutral experts. Any piece of insight, recommendation, or report must be shared with the entire collaborative team. If this standard is not abided by, each party may be withdrawn for the process entirely.

What Types of Couples Are Good for Collaborative Divorce?

Collaborative Divorce is a procedure where both parties are expected to make a good-faith effort to negotiate on positions in a non-adversarial way. This usually means that couples whose divorce would be acrimonious are not great candidates for a collaborative divorce, as cooperation would be expected. In addition, couples who vary widely on what they believe is an appropriate settlement for the various issues involved in a divorce are also not good candidates for a collaborative divorce because they would not be capable of negotiating to a mutually-acceptable settlement. Finally, collaborative divorce requires that both of the participating parties have at least some trust in one another to maintain good-faith negotiations. If this is not the case, the collaborative process will be very difficult.

How should I prepare for a collaborative divorce?

Because every case is different, it is tough to recommend how to prepare for the collaborative divorce process. Be sure to understand the requirements of collaborative divorce, the outcome you and the opposing party and attempting to work toward, and any dealbreakers either of you may have to avoid concluding the process early.

What is a disqualification clause?

Each party involved in a collaborative divorce is able to conclude the collaborative process any time they wish to. They may have a reason for doing so but are able to cancel the process without a reason as well. The disqualification clause demands each party’s collaborative attorney to remove themselves from any further representation. In other words, each party must find and retain new counsel for trial. This clause is imperative to the collaborative divorce process because it ensures every individual involved in the process is committed to working toward an agreement of the case at hand as opposed to preparing to litigate your case at trial. Keep in mind, there must be a Participation Agreement equipped with a disqualification clause between the parties and their attorneys. If there is not a Participation Agreement, the divorce is not considered a collaborative divorce.

Is collaborative divorce actually effective?

There is no guarantee that two parties will effectively resolve each of their differences by using this process. With that being said, studies have shown that participating parties are typically more satisfied and committed to agreements that have been reached through their own equal and mutual efforts as opposed to court orders.

How much does collaborative divorce cost?

Like anything dealing with the law and legal professionals, there is no set cost for a collaborative divorce. Collaborative divorce attorneys will charge varying rates depending on their skills and experience, and also the complexities of the case at hand. The more consultations and meetings needed in order to reach an agreement, the more fees can accumulate.

The majority of divorce costs stem from filing fees and court appearance costs. Parties opting for  ‘no court’ agreement avoid court costs and filing fees, which, to some, can be a no-brainer. ‘No court’ agreements mandate each of the attorneys to withdraw from the case if it were to continue to litigation court. Licensed mediators, divorce coaches, and child specialists will likely increase the overall start-to-finish cost.

In any case, with all parties working together, outside of an adversarial court system, many of the divorce costs and fees can be eliminated.

How confidential is the collaborative divorce process?

Collaborative divorce is considered very confidential. Any statement made in a joint or four-way legal meeting is absolutely not admissible in court. All information exchanged during a joint meeting is confidential, aside from any piece of information that would be required by law or of the court in order to resolve an issue at hand.

How long does a collaborative divorce take?

There are several factors that determine the length of a collaborative divorce. Some of the main factors include the readiness of each party to resolve any issues at hand, the level of transparency and commitment during the collaborative process, the level of conflict between each party, and the intricacies of the issues at hand. Keep in mind, this process is designed to be more creative, cordial, and personalized, not just quicker and easier. The process may be punctual and brief, or it may be long and drawn-out, depending on intricate details.

Is Collaborative Divorce Less Expensive Than Litigated Divorce?

The simplest answer to this question is “it depends”. Oftentimes, collaborative divorce is significantly less expensive than litigated or adversarial divorce. Not only do you avoid doubling up on fees such as child custody expert fees, but you and your spouse can often find a solution that saves the both of you money. The collaborative divorce model also tries to settle the issue as quickly as possible, which often means that your legal fees are less than they would be in a litigated divorce. This is not always the case, but collaborative divorce is usually less expensive than litigated divorce.

Is collaborative divorce actually effective?

There is no guarantee that two parties will effectively resolve each of their differences by using this process. With that being said, studies have shown that participating parties are typically more satisfied and committed to agreements that have been reached through their own equal and mutual efforts as opposed to court orders.

Is the collaborative divorce process faster than regular divorce?

In short, it depends on the intricate details associated with the case. Some divorce parties may have numerous pieces of property to split equally, while others do not have any. Some cases may involve children and the responsibilities associated with the parenting, and some may not.

What are the disadvantages of collaborative divorce?

Along with the benefits of collaborative divorce, there are several factors that some would consider disadvantages. A few examples would include:

  • Every detail is laid out in the open for every member of each party to explore. Many people wish to keep certain personal details private, and, if that’s the case for you, there may be a better-fitting option for you aside from collaborative divorce.
  • While still typically considered cheaper than a fully litigated trial and appeal, collaborative divorce can quickly become costly when financial planners, numerous mental health professionals, and multiple collaborative attorneys are involved. By remaining vigilant of accumulated costs, you can avoid unexpected surprises and invoices.
  • Because collaborative divorce moves at the pace of the slowest person, many find themselves continuously waiting for the slower party to make their next move. If you’re on a strict timeline, be sure to understand how the process moves forward to avoid any surprises or schedule inconveniences.
  • Collaborative divorce is not for parties that yearn to win in a competitive manner, it is about reaching agreements, listening, and compromising. This can be an issue for those who plan to ‘beat their competition’, rather than efficiently reach an agreement.
  • If one party exits the collaborative divorce process, they must conclude their relationship with their attorney and start fresh. This can become an issue for those who have limited access to collaborative professionals

Which issues does collaborative divorce cover?

Collaborative Divorce Greenville North CarolinaGenerally speaking, any aspect of your case may be discussed through the collaborative divorce process. Because every case is different, it is important to explain any and every detail of your case to increase the likelihood of a fair and efficient outcome. A few of these aspects include medical support, a division of assets, spousal support, child support, co-parenting, parenting arrangements, child custody matters, and more.

How Does Collaborative Divorce Work for Child Custody?

Many of our clients often start their questions by asking how collaborative divorce would affect the custody of their children. Divorce can be a uniquely painful experience for children, and it is only natural that the parents would want their children to avoid as much of that pain as is possible. In most cases involving child custody for collaborative divorce proceedings, the parties will agree on a neutral child specialist to help guide them towards the children’s best interests. In addition, because collaborative divorce encourages good-faith negotiations, these child custody experts can often guarantee that your children see the best end result and are not traumatized by an acrimonious divorce. In terms of actually negotiating, you and your partner will, with the help of the child custody expert, come up with a mutually-acceptable custody arrangement, taking into account the needs of the children. We believe that collaborative divorce allows for a solution that keeps families amicable.

What Are Some Benefits of Collaborative Divorce

Collaborative divorce is a process that has many benefits over an adversarial, litigated divorce. The advantage that is mentioned most often is the fact that a well-done collaborative divorce will almost guarantee a more amicable split than a litigated divorce. Since the two parties come together in an atmosphere of good-faith negotiations to try and solve their problems, they don’t have rulings delivered from on high that may be resented later. Another advantage of collaborative divorce is the fact that the proceedings are usually cheaper. Since you aren’t spending significant amounts of time on things that aren’t directly related to the case itself, this often means that your legal fees are lower. Finally, due to the encouraging environment of mutual cooperation, collaborative divorces are often less acrimonious. This means that you and your spouse will still ideally be friends or acquaintances, and any children involved in the divorce are less likely to be traumatized in the process.

How confidential is the collaborative divorce process?

Collaborative divorce is considered very confidential. Any statement made in a joint or four-way legal meeting is absolutely not admissible in court. All information exchanged during a joint meeting is confidential, aside from any piece of information that would be required by law or of the court in order to resolve an issue at hand.

If an agreement is reached during a collaborative divorce, is it legally binding?

In short, yes. Any agreed upon, signed documented is considered a legally enforceable contract. This contract is eventually incorporated into a court order with the assistance of each parties’ legal counsel. The final agreement between each party will be submitted to the court for entry of an order approving the agreement when each party is ready to end their marriage. It is important to have a solid understanding of what a legally binding agreement is to avoid any surprises down the road.

What Happens If My Collaborative Divorce Fails?

Unfortunately, collaborative divorce doesn’t always work for everyone. Sometimes the proceedings founder on mutually-unacceptable demands, sometimes there’s just too much bad blood between the parties for any good-faith negotiation to be attempted, or sometimes just one party spoils the efforts of the other. Regardless of the reason, collaborative divorce doesn’t have a 100% success rate, and sometimes clients go on to regular litigated divorce proceedings. In collaborative divorce, you and your partner sign a form at the beginning that states that both of you agree to fire your current counsel and hire new counsel if the proceedings turn litigious. This means that if the collaborative proceedings fail you will move forward with a litigated divorce, but with new counsel. This means that you will lose all of the money you’ve invested in the process thus far, a powerful motivator to try and keep the process moving.

What If the Collaborative Agreement Is No Longer Best For My Children?

While we always strive to get the best possible results for all involved parties, sometimes it turns out that your collaborative divorce isn’t getting the correct results for your children. In these cases, the first move would be to unanimously seek a new expert or counsel. If seeking new opinions does not work, the only remaining option is to go back to a litigated divorce solution. This is why we always encourage our clients to try everything possible to negotiate their differences out before the collaborative divorce becomes adversarial.

Contact Pitt County’s Collaborative Family Law Attorneys

When you are facing divorce, a family law attorney can help you secure the divorce agreement you need while avoiding unnecessary difficulty. To schedule an initial consultation, call Greenville, NC family law attorney, Gib Irons at 252-215-3000 or fill out our contact form below.  Protecting your Privacy ~ Your privacy is our primary concern.  At Irons & Irons, we understand the importance of protecting your privacy and will never share your contact information with a 3rd party.

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