Collaborative Law is a means of dispute resolution where the parties and their attorneys agree to work together to resolve outstanding issues without involving or threatening adversarial litigation. North Carolina law specifically recognizes this process as an alternative to litigation for those who do not want to go to court.
The Collaborative Law Process
A distinctive element of the Collaborative Law process is the signing of the Collaborative Law agreement by the parties and their attorneys. This agreement contains the vital provision that if the process does not result in a settlement, then the parties’ attorneys must withdraw from their representation. Typically, with Collaborative Law, issues are resolved during structured meetings between the parties and their attorneys where settlement options are discussed in detail and issues are agreed upon. If the issues cannot be resolved in these four way meetings, the parties may, by mutual agreement, use other forms of alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation or binding arbitration to reach a resolution. The parties’ attorneys for the Collaborative Law process may serve as counsel for any form of alternative dispute resolution as agreed upon by the parties.
If the parties fail to reach an agreement through the Collaborative Law process, either party may file a court action unless the Collaborative Law agreement provides that mediation or arbitration must be used first. Again and most importantly, the attorneys representing the parties in the Collaborative Law process may not represent either party in litigation.
There are two other important considerations regarding the Collaborative Law process:
- First, all statements of the parties made during the Collaborative Law process are confidential and inadmissible in any court proceeding; and
- Secondly, all communications and work product of any attorney or third party professional hired by the parties through the Collaborative Law process are privileged and inadmissible in a court proceeding, except by agreement of the parties.
If you and your spouse have decided to resolve your family law issues through the Collaborative Law approach, Hatcher Law Group can help. Please contact us to schedule a meeting with one of our attorneys.
Several of the attorneys at Hatcher Law Group are specially trained in the Collaborative Law process
Greg Hatcher is the managing partner of Hatcher Law Group. He has been practicing family law for more than 20 years and is a Board Certified Specialist in Family Law, as well as a Fellow in the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. He has been trained in the Collaborative Law process and is a member of the Charlotte Collaborative Divorce Professionals.
Dan Lewis has been practicing family law since 2005. He was trained in the Collaborative Law process in 2009 and is a NC-DRC Family Financial Mediator. After being admitted to the North Carolina Bar in 2012, Mr. Lewis joined the Charlotte Collaborative Divorce Professionals. He has served as the group’s program chair and was elected to a third term on the group’s executive committee in June of 2015. He is also a member of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals.
Courtney Hamer Smith
Courtney Smith began her legal career at Hatcher Law Group. She has been practicing family law since 2009 and was trained in the Collaborative Law process in 2013. She is a member of the Charlotte Collaborative Divorce Professionals and serves on the group’s marketing committee. Ms. Smith is also a member of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals.