This week, the New Jersey Assembly approved The Family Collaborative Law Act, which would allow divorcing couples to obtain a “collaborative divorce” in New Jersey.
Collaborative Divorce is similar to mediation but generally more effective because both spouses have their own attorney and there is a team environment where additional professionals are added as needed. The result is that spouses end up getting “the best bang for the buck” because they are paying for only those professionals that can help the most. As a result, legal fees are generally lower in collaborative divorce than in divorce litigation.
For instance, when putting together a parenting plan or when it becomes necessary to manage emotions to communicate effectively, a divorce coach or child specialist on the collaborative divorce team would likely be far more cost effective than two litigation attorneys “fighting it out.”
The collaborative divorce process will also help spouses identify their values, interests and goals to achieve an ultimate outcome that works for each of them. In doing so, the collaborative divorce team will help the spouses put together a list of powerful actions that can be taken immediately to help them achieve their goals.
Significantly, during the collaborative divorce process, communication between spouses and their lawyers would remain confidential, as would communication between the parties and other professionals on the collaborative divorce team.
Further, if the spouses are unable to reach an agreement and the collaborative divorce process fails, both attorneys must withdraw and each spouse must obtain a new attorney.
It has been reported that a Senate version has already been passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Budget and Appropriations Committee, and is awaiting a floor vote.
Several other states already have laws formally allowing collaborative divorce. In the meantime, collaborative divorce is presently being practiced in New Jersey by attorneys, including me , and by other professionals who have been specifically trained in both collaborative divorce and mediation.
Please contact my office to learn if collaborative divorce is right for you.