Collaborative Divorce in North Carolina


Collaborative divorce in North Carolina allows couples to amicably resolve their differences with the assistance of collaborative lawyers. This process begins when both spouses agree to work together to reach an agreement and sign a contract indicating their commitment to the process. Each spouse then hires their own collaborative lawyer, and the lawyers work with the couple to identify their goals and interests. Once an agreement is reached, the collaborative divorce contract is signed by both spouses and their lawyers, and the divorce is finalized. Although collaborative divorce is a fairly new process in North Carolina (since 2003), it has already proven to be successful in helping couples reach an amicable resolution. It is important to consult with a lawyer familiar with collaborative law before embarking on a collaborative divorce.

There are many benefits to collaborative divorce over traditional divorce, the most important being the financial savings of avoiding litigation and the reduced stress on the family and the couple. Collaborative divorce is only considered successful when it doesn't end in litigation, so it's important to hire a capable and experienced attorney.

Collaborative Divorce vs. Traditional Divorce

When a couple decides to divorce, they have to decide what type of divorce process to use. In collaborative divorce, the couple and their attorneys work together to reach an amicable resolution. The attorneys agree from the outset to withdraw from the case if negotiations fail and the case becomes adversarial. In traditional divorce, the parties start in an adversarial position, each spouse has their own attorney and they litigate the divorce in court.

Of course, collaborative divorce does have its disadvantages. One disadvantage is that it requires both parties be willing to work together. If one party is not willing to cooperate, then collaborative divorce will not work. Another downside is that it can take longer than traditional divorce. Because the couple has to reach an agreement on all issues, it can sometimes take longer to resolve a collaborative divorce than a traditional one.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Collaborative Divorce


  • Both parties have reasonable control over the process.
  • Ending the relationship in a collaborative way ultimately results in an amicable resolution.
  • The collaborative divorce lawyer who handles the case is experienced in dealing with conflict resolution, common interest identification, and ideal solution generation.
  • Collaborative divorce is a completely transparent process.
  • There is no court or Judge involved.
  • It is comparatively a less expensive process.


  • It demands both spouses negotiate and communicate in person to make decisions.
  • If negotiations break down, both parties will need to retain two different (non-Collaborative) attorneys and begin the process from scratch, headed toward litigation.

Collaborative Divorce v. Mediation

  • Mediation is different from collaborative divorce because mediation involves the participation of a third party who serves as a mediator to facilitate negotiations between the parties. A mediator is a neutral person who has no right to represent or take either party's side, is not permitted to be an advocate, and can't give legal advice to either spouse. The only duty of the mediator involves the facilitation of settlement.
  • In Collaborative divorce, both parties hire separate attorneys as his or her individual representative for the process of settlement. There's no third-party person who mediates. Collaborative divorce lawyers are trained mediators who are experienced in interest-based negotiations.
  • Both mediation and collaborative law rely on communication between the two parties to find practical solutions to shared. Both of the parties and their respective lawyers have to sign an agreement specifying the scope of the representation, including its termination if negotiations break down.

The Collaborative Divorce Procedure

First, the couple must agree to the process, and each spouse must retain their own collaborative divorce attorney.

At this point, there will be a meeting between the spouses and their respective lawyers where the process will be explained, ground rules will be set, and an agreement will be presented and signed.

Next, the couple will work together with their attorneys to identify all of the issues that need to be addressed, such as child custody, alimony, and property division. During this time, each spouse will work with his or her collaborative divorce lawyer to set expectations and prepare for settlement.

Once all of the issues have been resolved, the attorneys will prepare a contract known as a Collaborative Law Settlement Agreement for both parties that contain all the terms and conditions of the divorce.

Because North Carolina requires one year of physical separation, it is possible to sign the Agreement before the year of separation is completed and then finalize the divorce itself after the year has tolled.

FAQs on Collaborative Divorce Law in North Carolina

How Could Collaborative Divorce Help Me?

The goal of the collaborative process is to find creative solutions that best meet the needs and interests of both parties. This approach can help to prevent divorce from becoming acrimonious and controversial. It can also allow both parties to express their concerns and needs.

How are Things Split in a Divorce in NC?

In North Carolina, equitable distribution is the law that governs how property is divided in a divorce. It means that the court will attempt to divide the property fairly and equitably, taking into account various factors such as the length of the marriage and each spouse's income. Moreover, if it's a traditional divorce, the court will follow the principle of a 50/50 division of assets. With a Collaborative divorce you both work on the terms of division of property, with the equitable distribution law as your guideline.

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