The 3 C’s of Collaborative Divorce in North Carolina
Chapter 50 of the North Carolina General Statutes governs the practice of collaborative law in North Carolina. Section 50-71 sets forth various essential definitions to the practice. It defines collaborative law as: “A procedure in which a husband and wife who are separated and are seeking a divorce, or are contemplating separation and divorce, and their attorneys agree to use their best efforts and make a good faith attempt to resolve their disputes arising from the marital relationship on an agreed basis.”
Litigation and the collaborative method both involve two parties working with separate attorneys. However, in litigation, instead of working to resolve disputes, the parties leave it up to the judge to make a determination. The parties work around the availability of their attorney, and the court.
The court has a busy calendar. The litigation method typically requires several court dates, and judges are not obligated to work around litigant’s schedules. In contrast, the collaborative method in NC requires one where the court grants the final divorce.. This prolongs the divorce process.
You may be thinking, “the reason I can’t work together with my spouse is why I filed for divorce.” The collaborative process doesn’t necessarily mean you need to work together. Instead, your attorneys work to represent your best interests.
The collaborative process puts you and your spouse at the forefront of decision making. Instead of the court determining the outcome of your case, you decide the outcome. You work around your and your attorney’s schedule, along with your spouse’s and your spouse’s attorney’s schedule.
Section 50-77 governs privileged and inadmissible evidence. According to Section 50-77, “All statements, communications, and work product made or arising from a collaborative law procedure are confidential and are inadmissible in any court proceeding.” Keeping your divorce confidential means your friends, co-workers, family members, and strangers cannot obtain access to the details of your marriage and divorce.
Have you turned on the television and seen news surrounding celebrities’ divorces? The intimate details of their marriages are often available for the public and paparazzi. This is because these spouses chose to litigate. Had they chosen the collaborative method, the details of their marriage and divorce could have remained private.
Communication goes hand-in-hand with confidentiality. You may feel worried about commuting openly with your spouse in fear that your neighbors and strangers can get access to the intimate details of your divorce. However, the collaborative method prevents uninterested parties from obtaining access to the details of your divorce.
Having open conversations during the collaborative process is crucial to having a successful divorce. If you want an efficient divorce, you’ll need to provide details with respect to your assets and income. Your attorney can help you determine what disclosures you’ll need to make. Remember, these disclosures will stay confidential between those involved in the collaborative process. However, if you find the collaborative method isn’t right for you and your spouse, you may need to litigate, and your information will become publicly available.
If you intentionally or unintentionally provide incorrect information, this may delay the divorce process. You and your attorney will need to complete additional work to correct the mistake. However, if you’re able to provide the information requested by your attorney in a timely and accurate fashion, you’ll be able to obtain a divorce faster than you would via the litigation method.
Why is court one of the 3 C’s if you get to avoid court? Thinking about the benefits of collaborative divorce means reminding yourself why you chose the collaborative process in the first place. You’re likely considering the collaborative method if you want to avoid a battle in court.
Leaving the court out means obtaining a divorce more efficiently . Section 50-72 governs the agreement requirements. The agreement between you and your spouse must include a provision for the withdrawal of all attorneys involved in the collaborative law procedure if a settlement cannot be reached. The attorneys don’t have any incentive to encourage you or your spouse to continue fighting in court.
The litigation method can last years. Both spouses end up spending a significant amount of time and money on the process. In contrast, the collaborative method allows parties to reach an agreement in less time, and in turn, spend less money. By keeping in mind the 3 C’s of the collaborative method, you and your spouse can remain focused on obtaining a divorce.