Helping Your Clients Outside of the Courtroom – Part 1
Divorce is never emotionally easy, especially on kids, but in high conflict cases it can be even more of a strain. In North Carolina however, there are services which family law firms can provide that can help parents ease the strain on their children and themselves – services rendered outside the courtroom. There are three in particular that I strongly recommend exploring for any family law practitioner: Parenting Coordinators, the Collaborative Law approach, and the creation and/or participation in a committee that can help to streamline the litigation process in your judicial district.
Parenting Coordinators: Many states, including North Carolina, offer attorneys the opportunity to become certified Parenting Coordinators. A Parenting Coordinator keeps the focus on effective communication between parents in order to best meet the needs of the children, and can often be the voice of reason in high-conflict custody cases.
Collaborative Law approach: If your client likes the idea of compromise, and would prefer to avoid battling it out in the courtroom, you should consider offering a Collaborative Law approach for clients facing separation. While specific guidelines differ by state, North Carolina defines “Collaborative Law” as a procedure in which a husband and wife who plan to separate/divorce, and their attorneys, agree to make a good faith attempt to resolve their disputes without litigation. Further, the parties’ attorneys agree not to serve as litigation counsel, except to ask the court to approve the settlement document, if appropriate.
Domestic Court Bar Committee: In Mecklenburg County, several years ago, this committee was established to support Domestic Court. It consists of lawyers, judges, clerks, trial administrators, and mediators who work together to make changes to the 26th Judicial District Family Court Local Rules, scheduling matters, and other issues directly related to Family Law in Mecklenburg County.
The links below are an expansion on each of these topics, as well as suggestions of resources for additional information.