4 Things a Participation Agreement Accomplishes

If you have chosen to go through a collaborative process for your divorce, rather than a traditionally litigated divorce, there’s a lot of new vocabulary to learn. As the field of collaborative law has grown rapidly in recent years, its benefits have become more widely available to divorcing couples. If you’re getting started in this process, you’ll need to sign a pledge or participation agreement. A pledge or participation agreement is a contract signed by both parties and their attorneys—it lays out the collaborative law process and what is expected of each party .                             

1. Sets the Standards for Each Party’s Behavior

 People have to enter the collaborative law process in good faith, which is clear when you read any participation agreement. It explains that both parties must fully dedicate themselves to non-litigious solutions to their family law disputes and put forth full effort during the collaborative process. Negotiations are carried out under an interest-based negotiation model. The agreement also explains that parties must fully disclose all relevant information, whether or not that information is specifically requested. Hiding or omitting information is contrary to the goals of the collaborative process.

2. Protects Privacy of the Parties

 The participation agreement requires that each party gives a complete, full, and open disclosure of all information, whether requested or not. Some people worry about the full disclosure requirement of the collaborative process, however, the information disclosed in the collaborative process is not public as it is in traditional litigation and is therefore private to the parties in the collaborative process. Further, the participation agreement specifically states that any work product obtained during the collaborative process cannot be used as evidence in any future litigation unless the parties agree otherwise.

3. Outlines the Requirements for Termination of Collaborative Divorce

 The collaborative process can be terminated by either party and either party’s attorney. Either attorney may terminate the process if they find out that their client has withheld or misrepresented information or is otherwise undermining the collaborative process.. If a party opts to end the process, they must provide written notice to the attorneys. Upon termination, the attorneys are required to withdraw from representation of the client in any subsequent litigation. 

4. Sets Expectations for Communication Methods

 Your participation agreement should specify that issues will be discussed and decided throughout a series of meetings. Both parties are expected to complete any assigned tasks and bring the necessary paperwork to each meeting to speed up the process and ensure full disclosure. The participation agreement also sets rules for the tone and focus of communication.  All parties should maintain a respectful tone that contributes to the constructive and collaborative nature of the process. Parties should also focus on the desire for a mutually beneficial outcome, rather than the problems leading up to the divorce.

 Collaborative practice offers a peaceful, productive way to end a marriage, lay the groundwork for healing, and allow all parties to move forward. To find out if the collaborative process is a viable option for your family law needs, contact Goodwin Law and Mediation at (919) 798-4468 to schedule a consultation.

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Goodwin Law & Mediation

At Goodwin Law & Mediation, we strive to fill an important niche in North Carolina legal services. Attorney Raymond Goodwin has a significant body of legal experience and a wealth of knowledge that he brings to the table to develop personalized solutions for a range of legal issues.

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