Olsinski Law Firm team

COVID-19 Update: Both our Charlotte and Concord Offices are now open regular hours of 8:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. The courts are operational for exceptional matters but we do anticipate them slowly opening back up over the coming months. Please give us a call for any specific questions regarding your case and how the current status may be impacted. Stay Safe. Learn More.

Alternatives to Litigation

Separation Agreements, Mediation, Collaborative Divorce Separation Agreements

A separation agreement is a contract between a husband and a wife resolving issues such as division of property (including pensions and retirement accounts) and debts, custody, and support (alimony and child support) once they have separated. The agreement can also determine how parties will file taxes for certain years and who will claim the tax exemption on the children (normally the parent with physical custody more than half of the year gets the exemption absent a written agreement stating otherwise). A separation agreement can only be entered into voluntarily; no one can be “forced” to sign or to agree to terms they are unwilling to agree upon. Separation agreements are not required to get a divorce.

Some benefits of separation agreements: Written separation agreements may be enforced by a court (through a breach of contract action, for example), whereas oral promises between spouses are unenforceable. Separation agreements usually eliminate the need to litigate marital dissolution issues, resulting in savings of time, money, and stress.

Some disadvantages of separation agreements: A separation agreement cannot bind third parties (such as finance companies or banks), and your creditors will still expect payment from joint debtors regardless of any agreement between them. If, however, a spouse agrees to assume a debt in a separation agreement and then later defaults on that debt, the beneficiary of the promise can sue the spouse for breach of contract and possibly receive the amount of money lost. In some cases, courts will order specific performance of a promise to make debt payments. Courts are not bound by the terms relating to child support, custody and visitation and can modify the agreement terms based on the best interests of the children. There is a presumption, however that the terms in the agreement are fair and appropriate for the children’s best interests.

A separation agreement should be prepared by an attorney, and the agreement is not valid unless signed by both parties and notarized.

Mediation

If you and your spouse are unable to agree on any or all terms of your separation, mediation is one alternative to litigation. Mediation is where a third party helps you both discuss the terms of your separation. In NC, the mediator may be a licensed attorney or certified mediator. NC Courts require mediation for custody and property disputes before the judge will hear your case. With this in mind, why not try private mediation before resorting to the need for court intervention? When you participate in mediation, you, your spouse, or both can agree to keep attorneys out of the process. Note that the mediator cannot provide either of you with legal advice so it really depends on your comfort level if you decide to attend unrepresented. At the Olsinski Law Firm, our family law attorneys are advocates for mediation and have over 15 years combined experience with representing clients in mediations.

Collaborative Divorce

Collaborative divorce is a recent development in NC, growing from California roots and quickly making waves in the legal community. This is a separation and divorce process wherein all parties commit to settlement out of court. This means all parties, attorneys included, agree upfront to refuse to litigate. Your case never sees a courtroom and, as such, you and your spouse maintain complete authority and make all final decisions for your family, rather than a stranger (i.e. judge). If you and your spouse are unable to reach an agreement, or wish to have more guidance, the collaborative process is worth looking into. It does take an “open” attitude for this process to be effective and both spouses must be willing to do whatever it takes to ensure an amicable outcome.

True collaborative attorneys are specifically trained in collaborative techniques and resources and will note this on their website. CAUTION: some attorneys will say they’re “collaborative,” but this does not mean they actually subscribe or commit to the collaborative process. See the Charlotte Collaborative Divorce Professional website for further information and attorney referrals: charlottecollaborativedivorce.com

Client Reviews
★★★★★
Everyone at the Osinski Law Firm was prompt, professional and responsive. I was kept informed and notified when a resolution was in place. I would not hesitate to use Kimberly Olsinski in the future. David
★★★★★
My service was great, I was very satisfied. The staff was great as well, keeping me informed, explaining my case and helping me understand the outcome. Michele P.
★★★★★
Very professional at all times. Worked hard for me. I had no worries or concerns that my ticket would be handled. I would for sure recommend her to my family and friends as well as use her in the near future. Roxanne
★★★★★
I'm glad I chose this firm, my case was handled quick and worked out great in my favor. I would refer them to anybody that is hoping for the best outcome. Chris A.
★★★★★
I'm glad I called the Olsinski Law Firm. They took time to listen to my story from the accident and explained everything in full detail. I am completely satisfied. Thank you! Sonjinika