One of the many reasons why I’m proud to practice collaborative law in North Carolina is because it is truly an all-inclusive practice. As the first attorney to bring collaborative law to the Greenville – Pitt County area of North Carolina, I believe that it is the healthiest way to divorce, no matter the gender or sex of spouses. It is known to be fair, equal, and balanced. Nationwide, for the past 30 years, collaborative law attorneys have been assisting LGBT couples settle disputes, process divorces, or handle other legal issues without stepping foot into a courtroom.
History of Same-Sex Marriage in North Carolina
While LGBT couples have utilized collaborative law proceedings in different parts of the country since the 1990s, the North Carolina timeline is much different.
Same-sex marriage was legalized in North Carolina on October 10, 2014 when a United States District Court judge ruled that the state’s denial of marriage rights to same-sex couples was unconstitutional. This was a groundbreaking decision since the state had previously denied marriage rights to LGBT couples by statute since 1996. This denial was further reinforced in 2012, when a state constitutional amendment was approved to define marriage between a man and a woman as the only valid domestic legal union. This meant that civil unions were not recognized, despite some cities across the state making their own laws to legalize domestic partnerships for same-sex and opposite-sex marriage. This all changed in 2014 when U.S. District Judge Max. O. Cogburn, Jr. ruled in the case of General Synod of the United Church of Christ v. Cooper. He struck down Amendment One and granted LGBT couples in North Carolina the freedom to marry and also granted clergy the freedom to perform these marriages.
On the federal level, same-sex marriage was legalized in all fifty states on June 26, 2015. In Obergefell v. Hodges, the United States Supreme Court struck down all state bans and required states to honor out-of-state same sex marriage licenses.
Explaining the Concept of Collaborative Law
Collaborative family law has supported LGBT couples and helped them settle legal matters in a healthy manner for decades. Collaborative law is a type of alternative dispute resolution process that settles disputes through settlement. Through this type of proceeding, divorcing spouses can resolve their conflicts through negotiation in a private setting. While it is a similar method to mediation, there are vast differences. In collaborative law, each spouse is represented by their own attorney who is trained in the collaborative practice. Each spouse will then meet with their respective attorney to discuss their wants and needs as well as explaining the process and timeline. Then, the spouses and their attorneys meet together for a series of discussions with a goal to reach a mutually beneficial divorce agreement.
As a child of divorce, divorcee, and divorce attorney, I’ve seen the harmful effects of litigated divorce. Through out-of-court settlement options like collaborative law and mediation, couples are able to work together to come to a win-win settlement through negotiation. This is especially beneficial when children are involved because they are not involved in a contentious battle that takes years to finalize. Collaborative divorce is known to save time and money. Through my law firm, AN|R Law, with offices in Greenville, Beaufort, and Raleigh, our legal team works to spread awareness for the benefits of collaborative law for all families.
Why Many LGBT Couples Prefer Collaborative Divorce
Divorce is hard and can be an emotional process. While this is true for opposite-sex divorces, it is especially true for same-sex divorces. Many LGBT couples have spent years fighting for the right to marry. That’s why some say that if their marriage fails, they feel like it is even more difficult to process. As an attorney who is experienced in the many aspects of divorce, I empathize with this. When an LGBT couple chooses to divorce through AN|R Law Offices, I want them to know that our firm is a no judgement zone. Our legal team is supportive in every aspect of the divorce process.
For LGBT couples with children, collaborative divorce is especially helpful. Through this type of family law, collaborative law attorneys don’t see a primary parent when it comes to custody agreements. We believe that each parent deserves equal custody and we develop shared parenting agreements that reflect such. I’m a child of divorce and I know all too well the challenges that come with having a primary and secondary parent. For me, my mom was considered my primary parent who I spent most of my time with and my dad was considered my secondary parent. This was a traumatizing experience for me and I am on a mission to make sure no child of divorce has to deal with that type of parenting designation. This is the same for LGBT couples with children. Collaborative law ensures that the divorcing spouses create a co-parenting plan that is equal and beneficial for all involved, including the children.
In addition, many LGBT couples, unfortunately, do not feel represented in the court of law. When choosing collaborative divorce, couples don’t step foot into a courtroom and do not need a judge to make decisions. For LGBT couples, this eliminates the fear of prejudice. With out-of-court settlement options, like collaborative law, the couple’s attorneys are able to handle the point of court contact and filings.
How LGBT Couples Can Divorce Healthy
If you and your spouse are considering separation or divorce, I want you to know that it can be done in a fair and healthy manner. With three locations across North Carolina in Greenville, Beaufort, and Raleigh, AN|R Law is committed to serving spouses across the state. Reach out to our legal team to discuss how alternative dispute resolution methods can benefit you. Click here to read more about my practice and healthy methods of divorce including collaborative, mediation, and settlement.