The collaborative approach is not the same as mediation. In mediation, you have a third party who is going to be helping you work through these issues. In a collaborative approach, you both can be represented by an attorney. However, both attorneys must agree to a collaborative approach by signing a commitment. The commitment would entail that if the two parties decide to go forward with litigation, both attorneys will withdraw and not proceed forward.
This commitment keeps people in the room in several ways. It keeps attorneys pushing for compromise. It also retains the client’s interest in coming to an agreement because if they do not, they will lose the attorney they have already committed to and worked with. Thus, the process is designed to keep all parties honest and minimizes contention by taking away confidence in the ability to threaten the use of the court. Without the pressure of court involvement, it’s much more likely for people to resolve their issues based on what’s best.
There are also no mediator fees with collaborative divorce. If clients opt for it, they can also hire an expert to advise them precisely on what their assets and debts are. The parties can then jointly share this expense. While advisable to share the costs of experts, it is not necessary. Additionally, there are no deadlines for collaborative divorce. Mediation occurs on a single day or series of days, and it is often challenging to find a compromise after only one meeting. With collaborative divorce, sessions can be split up over time, so separation talks feel less pressured.
Do Both Or Either Parties Need Attorneys In The Collaborative Model?
The short answer is no. The long and nuanced answer is that it is tough to accomplish a collaborative divorce without two attorneys. Without an attorney, an unrepresented party would write a statement clarifying they understand that they’re representing themselves. Therefore, it can be done. However, it doesn’t have the same force and effect. The driver of divorce collaboration is maintaining the parameters around it. When there’s only one attorney in the room, the unrepresented party doesn’t have the pressure of losing their attorney. An attorney in North Carolina shall not represent both parties on opposite sides of a dispute. Without the second attorney present, it can be confusing as to whether the unrepresented party is getting legal advice or not.
How Can The Collaborative Process To Divorce Save Your Clients Time And Money?
Litigation is expensive and opposing parties can utilize rules and procedures to drive up that cost. Just because you have an attorney that is money conscious, doesn’t protect you from a multitude of discovery requests, depositions, or anything they can do to fight you. As litigation continues and expenses rise, your case may result in court-ordered mediation for the purpose of equitable distribution. If so, you will then have to pay a third party on top of your attorney for any time spent in mediation. Not to mention, if experts are required, each party will typically be required to pay for their own experts. Experts charge very high hourly fees and may be needed on more than one occasion. In addition, the court is unpredictable. Contrary to collaborative divorce, you won’t have control over the court processes and timeframes.