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This is the first of a series of tips that I will be posting on how to prepare yourself for separating from your spouse, and ultimately, finalizing your divorce.  Today’s tip focuses on finding the right lawyer for your case – and specifically considering a lawyer that focuses their practice on the collaborative divorce process.

During the past 5 years of practicing family law, I’ve learned a lot about how to handle a divorce case.  And one of the most important lessons I’ve learned is that who you choose to represent you and who your spouse chooses as their attorney can have a profound impact on how contentious, prolonged, litigious, and ultimately, expensive your divorce will be.  In North Carolina, there is a one year separation period before you are able to file for divorce.  That is more than enough time for most people to resolve all of the issues that they may face.  Unfortunately, however, many divorces last 1-2 years or much longer.  I believe that there is a better way.

For many years I have followed the misguided notion that to run a profitable law firm, I would have to litigate a small portion of my cases.  However, in the past several months, I have learned that this is not necessarily the case.  Many clients want, and even demand, alternatives to litigation as a way to resolve their cases.  For that reason, I am in the process of shifting my practice from a traditional law firm, to a firm that handles only collaborative divorce cases.  (I will also handle uncontested matters and absolute divorces).  The Collaborative Divorce Process is a way to resolve a disputed divorce by engaging attorneys that agree to assist the parties in resolving conflict or legal issues using cooperative strategies rather than immediately running to the courthouse to file a contested lawsuit. I am in the process of adding a list of other collaborative lawyers to my resources section so that prospective clients and their spouses can consult with lawyers that they know, ahead of time, would be willing to handle a collaborative case.

If you don’t know what a collaborative divorce is, I would encourage you to read more about it on my site, and also do some research online to see if a collaborative divorce is right for you.  Here are some resources:

Collaborative Divorce.net

Collaborative Divorce.com

International Academy of Collaborative Professionals

Divorce HQ – Collaborative Divorce