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 Collaborative Divorce?
Collaborative divorce, also often called collaborative family law, is a legal process that enables couples to work with their lawyers and other professionals in order to avoid litigation over assets, custody, and alimony payments. In a collaborative divorce setting, you and your spouse will meet along with your lawyers in “4-way meetings” to peacefully negotiate areas of contention such as property division and child custody. If you and your spouse have a disagreement on a particular issue, you can also call in an expert to better serve to mitigate the differences between your positions. The end result of all of this is ideally a divorce proceeding that is much more amicable and much less expensive than a standard adversarial divorce in Pitt County.
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.
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.
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 in things that aren’t directly related to the case itself, this often means that your legal fees are lower. Finally, due to the encouraged 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.
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.