Board Certified Family Law Specialist Matt Arnold answers the question: “What does uncontested divorce mean?”
Divorcing couples in North Carolina can choose to go through the collaborative process to get a divorce rather than going through litigation. This is a good option for some couples, but not everyone will find it a suitable arrangement. So, what is a collaborative divorce? How does a couple know if it is an option they want to pursue?
In a collaborative divorce, the couple agrees to meet outside of the courtroom to negotiate the terms of the divorce settlement. These terms most often include child custody, child support, and property division, although any other important terms are also discussed.
Unlike mediation, which is another option for divorce, a mediator is not present during the collaborative process. Instead, each party is represented by his or her own attorney. Experts are also a part of the collaborative process. Vocational experts and child development specialists are just a few of the professionals who can play a part in the collaborative divorce process.
Benefits of Collaborative Divorce
The biggest benefit collaborative divorce holds for any family is the potential for a divorce to be finalized as quickly and amicably as possible. It allows both parties to negotiate and discuss terms in an honest and respectful manner. Collaborative law does not typically involve the resentment and hostility that is often present during litigation.
One reason for this is due to the fact that both parties are in control of the negotiations, as opposed to a judge, who is the determining factor during litigation. Attorneys will help negotiate on behalf of the party they are representing, and any experts present will provide his or her own expert opinions. However, none of these individuals will make decisions for the couple. Only the couple can do that.
When these negotiations take place in a friendly and respectful environment, it can set the divorcing couple up for success once their divorce is final. They are often better able to co-parent by establishing a respectful relationship during even the hardest of times.
When Collaborative Divorce is Not the Best Option
Collaborative divorce is a great option for many couples going through a divorce. However, it is not for everyone.
When domestic violence was part of the marriage, collaborative law is not the best setting to finalize a divorce. It is often difficult for abuse victims to remain in the same room as their abuser. In addition, abusers will often try to continue their intimidation tactics and make the abuse victim feel powerless during negotiations. This is not how the collaborative law process is supposed to work. It is meant to be a process in which both parties feel they can speak freely and honestly.
In divorce cases that involve mental health or addiction issues, a collaborative divorce is often not the best option. This is due to the fact that collaborative divorce is also supposed to move at a faster pace than litigation. When people are struggling with issues such as substance abuse or compromised mental health, they sometimes have difficulty making decisions and abiding by agreed-upon terms. In these cases, a judge can actually help expedite the process by outlining the terms of the divorce more quickly.
Lastly, when there is a severe financial imbalance between the two parties, collaborative law may provide the answers for which the couple is looking. The spouse with the upper hand financially may normally use his or her situation as bargaining power, leaving the one with fewer finances to feel intimidated and insecure, the presence of an attorney advocating for you can disrupt and keep in check this power imbalance.
Speak to a North Carolina Family Lawyer Today
A couple has more options during a divorce than they may realize. A divorce lawyer in North Carolina can outline all of these options, and recommend which one is best for any specific case.
If you are thinking about divorce, contact Arnold & Smith PLLC. We will review all of the divorce options including mediation, collaborative law, and litigation with you. After reviewing your case and listening to your story, we can also make recommendations as to which option is best for you and represent you no matter which option you choose. Call us today for your consultation so we can get started on your case. If you find yourself facing a complicated family law matter and need the help of experienced family-law attorneys in or around Charlotte, Lake Norman, or our new office in Monroe, please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today at (704) 370-2828 or find additional resources here.
The family law practice group at Arnold & Smith, PLLC includes two Board-Certified Family Law specialists and one Child Welfare Law specialist, as well as several attorneys with many years of family law experience that are committed to providing a powerful voice to individuals facing the often-tumultuous issues in this area of law. The range of issues our family law clients may be facing include pre- and post-nuptial agreements; separation agreements; post-separation support; child support (both temporary and permanent); absolute divorce; divorce from bed and board; military divorce; equitable distribution of assets; child custody (both temporary and permanent); retirement benefits and divorce; alimony and spousal support; adoption; and emancipation. Because this area of the law is usually emotionally charged and complicated, the family law attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC act with the utmost dedication to ensure that each client understands his or her options, and then act to achieve the best result possible for that client’s particular situation.
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