Collaborative Law Proceedings


The divorce process can take an emotional toll on all parties involved. The thought of having to discuss one’s private grievances in open court can be unnerving. Fortunately, there may be another option. In North Carolina, except for a claim for absolute divorce, an alternative to judicial dispositions dealing with issues arising from civil actions, on a written agreement between the parties and their attorneys, a civil action may be conducted under collaborative law.

What is collaborative law?

Collaborative law is 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.

What are the collaborative law procedures?

Collaborative law procedures include an agreement by the parties to attempt to resolve their disputes without having to resort to judicial intervention, except to have the court approve the settlement agreement and sign the orders to effectuate the agreement of the parties. The agreement must be in writing, signed by all parties, and must include provisions for the withdrawal of all attorneys involved if the procedure does not result in a settlement of the dispute.

What happens if a settlement still can’t be reached?

If the parties fail to reach a settlement and no civil action has been filed, either party may file a civil action, unless the collaborative law agreement first provides for the use of arbitration or alternative dispute resolution. Further, if a civil action is pending and the collaborative law procedures do not result in a collaborative law settlement agreement, the court may enter orders as appropriate. Lastly, if a civil action is filed or set for trial, the attorneys representing the parties in the collaborative law proceedings may not represent either party and shall withdrawal.

Once the collaborative procedures begin, are we stuck with this method?

No, parties are permitted to use, by mutual agreement, other forms of alternative dispute resolution, including mediation or binding arbitration, to reach a settlement on any of the issue included in the collaborative law agreement.

In the end, divorces are complex and there are many factors to take into consideration. When considering a divorce, it’s important to know all the options you have available to make it as seamless as possible for all involved. A family law attorney can help you navigate these waters. If you are contemplating a divorce, then contact Jetton & Meredith today to set up a consultation with one of our experienced family law attorneys.