Collaborative divorce is a cooperative, interest-based approach to resolving family cases. You and your spouse are supported by a team of divorce professionals. The team typically includes a financial expert, a divorce coach, and attorneys. Information is exchanged and decisions are made in meetings you attend with members of the team.
Your collaborative attorneys will help you negotiate the legal aspects of a settlement. They may not represent you in a lawsuit involving support, custody, or the division of property.
Once agreements are reached, the attorneys work together in drafting a final, binding contract called a separation agreement and property settlement. The attorneys are also available to assist you in obtaining a judgment of absolute divorce — in most cases without having to go to court.
The financial expert will help you gather, organize, and summarize relevant information related to your income, assets, and liabilities. He or she can help you develop monthly budgets for living in separate homes and sharing parenting expenses. He or she can assist with valuing retirement assets, such as 401(k) plans and pensions. The expert also can explain the tax consequences of the proposed division of assets and help you formulate proposals regarding spousal and child support.
The divorce coach’s role is to facilitate respectful communication between you and your spouse. Separation can be very stressful emotionally. Uncontrolled emotions and recriminations can be an impediment to a good settlement. The coach will make sure that each of you hears the other and that you move past hurt and blame.
Here are some of the features that make collaborative divorce unique:
Choosing a collaborative lawyer you feel comfortable with is important. That person should possess a sound knowledge of North Carolina family law. He or she should also be an excellent listener and an effective communicator. In addition, he or she should be creative, because solutions are not limited to what a court might order.
Attorneys Mary Gurganus and Kristin Buckner are experienced in the collaborative process and help spouses negotiate fair financial settlements and parenting plans that prioritize the needs of their children.