New Jersey Collaborative Divorce Lawyers
Guiding New Jersey clients through the collaborative divorce process
If you’re thinking about divorce, but are afraid of the cost and the emotional toll it will take on you and your children, you may want to consider collaborative divorce as a better alternative. In 2014, New Jersey enacted a Collaborative Divorce Act — sometimes referred to as “No Court Divorce.” It is an alternative to traditional divorce because virtually the entire process takes place outside the courtroom, and without the involvement of the court. Rather than litigating in court, the collaborative divorce process seeks to minimize conflict and emotional hurt, and emphasize resolution and a positive look toward the future. It also can afford both parties a considerable savings in both time and money.
How does collaborative divorce differ from “traditional” divorce?
A “traditional” divorce starts with the filing of a lawsuit. Thus, from the very beginning, the process is adversarial. Each side hires an attorney who fights vigorously for their client’s position. Both attorneys and clients have to appear in court. The parties may each need to hire his/her own expert who will each give an opinion on how money should be divided, or on important issues like child custody. These experts are then deposed, their expert reports are criticized and attacked by the other side, and, eventually, the court has to decide which expert is “right.” All of this takes a lot of time and money. It can also be very stressful, and can create more bitterness and animosity between the divorcing spouses than may be necessary.
In a collaborative divorce, each spouse hires his/her own attorney who has been certified by the State of New Jersey in the collaborative divorce process. These professionals have been trained to “tone down” the arguing, and mutually work toward resolution in the best interests of the parties. No lawsuit is filed to start the collaborative divorce process. Instead, the parties and their attorneys sit down in several settlement conferences and work through the issues in a cooperative fashion. If the parties and their attorneys determine that an expert is needed for a particular issue, they together choose one expert who will then give his/her professional opinion on that issue. The expert’s goal is to come up with a solution that works for both sides. This differs greatly from the scenario that takes place in a traditional divorce, where the experts concentrate on “winning” and fighting with each other.
Collaborative divorce often includes the participation of a “Divorce Coach” — a mental health professional with specialized training in collaborative divorce — who helps keep the parties focused on resolution.
Even if you and your spouse currently do not appear to agree on anything, and have already begun fighting about how to divide things up and share the raising of your children, collaborative divorce may still be right for you. In a collaborative divorce, the parties quickly become motivated to cooperate so that the divorce can be resolved more amicably, much faster, and for a lot less money.
You owe it to yourself, your family, and your pocketbook/wallet to consider collaborative divorce before filing a traditional divorce with the court. A good way to start is to take the quiz on our website – “Is collaborative divorce right for you?” Then, give us a call at 973-988-1707, or come to our office to discuss everything further. If you ultimately find that collaborative divorce is not right for you, we can file for a traditional divorce.
Collaborative divorce has many benefits over traditional divorce. These include: (1) it takes less time; (2) it is less expensive; (3) you have more control over the results; (4) it is confidential – no filing of documents containing intimate information; (5) it fosters a better relationship with your ex-spouse — very important if you are going to be co-parenting children. More