Collaborative Divorce Lawyers in NJ
Collaborative Divorce is a non-adversarial process that is designed to maintain an amicable relationship between the parties and their children during and after the divorce. In Collaborative Divorce, the parties collaborate rather than litigate. This process requires that each retain a family law attorney trained in and committed to the Collaborative process. Each party and their respective counsel signs a Retainer Agreement which provides that, in the event either party commences or threatens to commence litigation, the representation is terminated and the parties must seek litigation attorneys.
The Collaborative Divorce process applies various strategies to assist the parties in communicating and reaching agreements that meet their emotional and financial needs and those of their children. Joint meetings are held between the parties and their counsel in which information and documents are shared and all issues are discussed. These meetings may also include a joint mental health professional whose role is to address child-related issues and a joint financial expert whose role is to address issues such as the division of a business, analysis of income and cash-flow, budgets and division of assets. In some cases, the parties are also encouraged to utilize their own “divorce coach,” a mental health professional who assists them in communicating with their spouse and who may also facilitate communication at the joint meetings. However, the selection and use of these professionals is determined on a case-by-case basis. Of course, the parties also meet and discuss the issues separately with their own attorneys whose role remains to advise and advocate for their clients.
In addition to each party signing a Retainer Agreement with their respective attorney and signing a separate retainer agreement with each joint expert, the parties and professionals will also jointly sign a Participation Agreement. This agreement explains the role of each professional who will participate in the process and also permits the various professionals to communicate with each other, thus waiving the confidentiality that would otherwise be a bar to open communication.
The Collaborative Divorce process is client-directed. It views divorce as a period of transition for the entire family. The professionals work together with the parties to make this transition as smooth as possible. The goal is to foster good communication between the parties and common goal-setting. This permits the parties to reach a settlement that works for all family members while maintaining stability for the children and promoting positive family relationships going forward. Most importantly, the parties control the process, avoid the time and expense of court proceedings and have direct input into the outcome of their divorce. It is a win-win for everyone.
The practice of Collaborative Divorce evolved in the mid-1990’s from work done by interdisciplinary teams in Minnesota and California. In the last 10 years, Collaborative Divorce has developed a growing following as one of several methods of Alternative Dispute Resolution that permits parties to move away from the traditional litigated divorce.
Contact one of our divorce attorneys to schedule a consultation to assist with your collaborative divorce matters.
The family law team at Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer serves New Jersey clients in Atlantic County, Bergen County, Burlington County, Essex County, Hudson County, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Monmouth County, Morris County, Ocean County, and Union County, in addition to serving clients in New York City.