Collaborative Divorce Attorney

Collaborative Divorce in NC

Your divorce doesn’t have to be a drawn-out battle. You and your spouse may sit down with your respective attorneys and work cooperatively on the details of a separation agreement, including child custody, visitation, support, and equitable division of property. A collaborative divorce can avoid the strife and lasting hard feelings generated by a contentious divorce.

The divorce lawyers at Younce, Vtipil, Baznik & Banks have experience helping people in Raleigh and throughout Wake County work through the many issues that arise in separation and divorce. When divorcing partners remain on civil terms, then we can work with you and your estranged spouse’s legal team to negotiate the terms of your divorce. A collaborative divorce saves time, money, and emotional stress for all concerned.

Contact the Raleigh collaborative divorce lawyers at Younce, Vtipil, Baznik & Banks online or by phone at 919-661-9000 to schedule an initial consultation. We can discuss this less stressful approach to the dissolution of your marriage. We have staff fluent in both English and Spanish to serve the Spanish-speaking members of our community. We use a state-of-the-art case tracking system to ensure optimal representation for each client.

What Is Collaborative Divorce?

In a collaborative divorce, the couple that is splitting up works together to take care of what needs to be done. If both marital partners are willing to compromise in good faith, collaborative divorce can result in steady, business-like progress toward a win-win dissolution of the marriage.

If you and your spouse think you can work collaboratively toward a separation agreement, you should each advise your divorce attorneys. You then can each sign a participation agreement that sets out your intent to collaborate on the development of a separation agreement. The participation agreement will include a clause that bars the lawyers involved from representing either spouse further if the collaboration fails. This helps ensure everyone’s full commitment to work toward a mutually-acceptable agreement. 

Before signing a participation agreement, each spouse should confer with their own attorney to discuss what they most want to achieve in a settlement agreement and the various tradeoffs they would be willing to make to come to an agreement. The time to talk to your spouse about potential sticking points is before signing a participation agreement. If you find that there are certain issues that one of you absolutely will not concede on and the other partner cannot accept, then collaborative divorce may not be right for you.

If you and your spouse are ready to work in good faith toward an equitable agreement, both sides can execute the participation agreement.

In subsequent meetings, the two of you with the guidance of your respective attorneys will go through the issues that must be settled, such as:

At each session between you and your spouse and your respective legal teams, you should make progress toward a divorce settlement agreement.

Who Should Consider Collaborative Divorce?

If you and your spouse cannot hold a conversation without fighting or cannot stand to be in the same room, collaborative divorce is not a good option for you. Even couples who generally get along need to make sure they can go through the divorce process this way.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Can we work together without arguing in a way that becomes detrimental to progress? You will disagree. The question is whether you can work through your disagreements by compromising?
  • Do you have young children? If you and your spouse plan to co-parent your children, you will need to remain on good terms after your divorce. Collaborative divorce is good training.
  • Will you need some kind of nontraditional parenting arrangement? Collaboration gives you the flexibility to come up with creative terms of divorce, which may be necessary for a special needs child or an unusual work schedule.
  • Is each of you willing to be fully transparent about your finances – including sources of money, spending, and debt? If either of you has something to hide, it is likely to be disclosed and derail the progress you have made.
  • Do you own a family business or have a complex financial situation? When collaborating, you can work through your finances in enough detail and with both legal teams’ contributions to come to solutions that don’t destroy what you’ve spent years building.
  • Are you concerned about privacy? Successful collaborative divorce results in a fair and balanced separation agreement that you present to the judge. The details of your collaborative divorce are not aired in open court and remain private.

couple talking to a divorce lawyercouple talking to a divorce lawyer

Benefits of Collaborative Divorce

Through many years of assisting clients with collaborative divorces, we have seen several benefits, such as:

  • Less animosity. Agreeing to work together, especially with a formal participation agreement, reduces hostility on both sides.
  • More control. Collaborative divorce allows you to consider each issue on your schedule and come to an agreement.
  • Reduced cost. By having negotiations proceed with a focus on meeting everyone’s needs rather than creating a “winner” and a “loser,” you may avoid a lengthy court process.
  • Stronger separation agreements. You are more likely to keep the agreements you and your spouse have actively negotiated and settled upon together. This can keep you out of court in the future.
  • Better communication. Because you’ve proven that you can work together, you are in better shape for the future as you work to establish a healthy co-parenting relationship and transition to separate lives in a civil and respectful manner.
  • A good model for your children. Regardless of their age, your children will benefit if they see their parents as rational adults who can work out their differences with each other.

The main disadvantage of collaborative divorce is that it is costly if it fails. As mentioned above, none of the lawyers involved in a failed attempt at a collaborative divorce can represent you afterward. Therefore, you would have to start over with a new lawyer. This gives each spouse incentive to hang in there during difficult negotiations.

How Is Collaborative Divorce Different From Mediation?

Some divorcing couples arrive at a settlement agreement through mediation. In this approach to dispute resolution, a specially trained neutral mediator joins the conversation to facilitate the couple’s negotiations. The divorcing spouses make all final decisions in mediation.

A couple may hire a mediator to assist with a collaborative divorce, but mediation on its own is a more informal process as compared to collaboration. Collaborative attorneys’ groups have protocols they follow to ensure that each side knows what it can expect from the other. These are good for professional courtesy and consistency but create a level of structure not necessarily found in mediation. In mediation, you work directly with the mediator to decide how you will proceed.

There’s no participation agreement in mediation alone, so there’s less incentive to proceed in good faith. This can become an issue when a couple’s power dynamic heavily favors one spouse over the other. For example, one spouse may have a tendency to dominate the conversation and the other may be used to agreeing just to get to a stopping point. The structure of collaboration and the support of a good collaborative attorney can stop bad habits on either side from skewing the process.

Contact Our Collaborative Divorce Attorneys

If you are considering divorce or have been served divorce papers by your spouse, it is important to have experienced, skilled legal representation as you move forward. The Raleigh divorce attorneys at Younce, Vtipil, Baznik & Banks can offer trusted guidance as you seek a separation agreement and final divorce that protects your rights and interests.

Contact us to schedule a consultation about your legal options and whether you and your spouse may be a good fit for a collaborative divorce. We can make sure you have sufficient information to understand and participate in planning a strategy to pursue the new life you want.

We are dedicated to our clients, and your best interest is our top priority. Call us at 919-661-9000 or contact us online to speak with someone today.