Many legal practitioners agree that the courtroom is not the ideal setting for resolving family issues. In many cases, particularly when children are involved, the parties will find it necessary to interact for years in the future; litigation generally doesn’t encourage cooperation and civility between separating parties.
Collaborative Law is an alternative to litigation focused on using mediation and negotiation to reach a settlement that best meets the needs of both parties and their children. In a collaborative case, each party hires his/her own attorney, and the parties and their attorneys sign a collaborative participation agreement. The agreement outlines the commitments to and expectations for the collaborative process: primarily open communication, information sharing, and mutual respect. Under North Carolina General Statutes § 50-77, any “statements, communications, and work product made or arising from a collaborative law procedure are confidential and are inadmissible in any court proceeding.” Because nothing said or otherwise shared during the collaborative process can be used in court, information can be shared that will contribute to establishing a long term solution to the issues. In addition, in order to take litigation “off the table,” collaborative agreements usually include a provision that requires both of the attorneys to withdraw from the case if the case ends up proceeding to litigation.
The primary tool of the collaborative process is the four-way meeting. The parties and their attorneys participate in a series of sit-down negotiations, openly discussing and exchanging information. At any time, the parties may decide to engage coaches, therapists, child and financial specialists (ideally trained in the collaborative process and committed to an out-of-court resolution) to assist them with working through the issues. Through commitment to this cooperative approach, parties can often resolve their issues without expensive and time-consuming litigation.
Participation in the collaborative process is completely voluntary, and a case only enters the collaborative paradigm if both parties agree. If both parties have retained attorneys who have been collaboratively trained and who are committed to the collaborative idea, there can be a higher degree of trust between the lawyers and their clients and therefore a higher chance for resolution. For more information on collaboratively trained and committed attorneys in Charlotte, visit http://www.charlottecollaborativedivorce.org/
If you have questions about collaborative law in divorce or other family matters, call our law office today.