The concept of collaborative divorce is relatively new in the state of New Jersey, so it would not be surprising if you or your spouse was not familiar with the concept. Couples that elect to try a Collaborative Divorce agree to postpone filing a Complaint for Divorce while they attempt to resolve their dispute. As a sign of their commitment to this process, they also agree that if they are unable to reach an agreement with the Collaborative process, none of the members on the team will continue to represent them if the matter goes to litigation. In other words, your collaborative divorce attorney, cannot represent you in litigation. Because of this, it is critical that you retain counsel that is trained as a Collaborative Law attorney in Morris County, NJ.
Mr. Friedland elected to become a trained Collaborative Law attorney after years of seeing the frustration of her clients with the litigation process. Quite simply, she knew there had to be a better way for couples to work through their issues . A way that would enable clients to feel comfortable with the knowledge that there would be an attorney with them the entire time to support and advise them, while still reducing the frustration, delay, and cost that frequently occur in the family court system.
What is Collaborative Law
Collaborative law is not for everyone. You need to be committed to the process and prepared to make compromises. However, if you are willing to try it, the benefits of Collaborative law can be extensive.
The first step in the process is to meet with a trained collaborative law attorney. While some attorneys might say they are familiar with the process are willing to participate in a collaborative divorce, this is not the same as being trained in the process. Just like in the medical field, the legal field has specializations, Collaborative Law being one of them. Collaborative law in new jersey is a relatively new field, and many divorce lawyers are still becoming familiar with the process. Because of this, in important that you retain counsel that is specially trained in collaborative law in new jersey.
The Collaborative Law attorney will explain the entire process to you at your consultation, including the fact that if the process fails, that attorney cannot represent you in a litigated divorce in the future. Assuming both parties agree to pursue a collaborative divorce, the next step would be to schedule an initial conference to determine what issues need to be resolved, and if any additional team members or experts are needed.
Couples can choose to retain joint experts in collaborative law. For example, parenting time may be an issue. In that case, it may be necessary to hire a psychologist to make a recommendation. However, rather than each side hiring their own psychologist, just to have competing recommendations later, the couple hire a single, joint expert.
After the initial meeting, additional sessions will be scheduled when the couple is ready to proceed. The benefit of this is that it is the couple that controls how quickly or slowly the process moves forward. If the couple is able to collect all their information quickly, and the team members are able to complete their work, they can schedule the follow up sessions as soon as everyone is available. They are not left to wait for a judge to find room on his or her calendar. The same is also true, if there are issues which require time to develop, the couple can postpone the meetings, unlike in a litigated divorce when you may be forced to appear before you are ready.
Ultimately, through these meetings, with the assistance of the collaborative law attorney and joint experts, a couple is able to work through their issues to reach an agreement that both of them can live with . If this happens, the couple will then be able to obtain a final divorce in a relatively short, painless proceeding.
Holly M. Friedland is a Collaborative Law attorney in Morris County, New Jersey.
Divorce Alternatives in NJ
There are many ways to proceed with a divorce in New Jersey, Collaborative Law being just one of them. If a Collaborative divorce does not appeal to you, you can also consider participating in divorce mediation or perusing what some people call a “standard divorce.”
Divorce mediation in New Jersey is provided by specially trained mediators who will work with you to try to come to an amicable resolution of your case. Unlike with a collaborative divorce, you are not required to retain counsel but are still able to proceed at your own schedule and dictate the terms of any final settlement. However, unlike with a collaborative divorce, you also will not have independent counsel present during your sessions and the mediator cannot give you legal advice.
If you or your spouse feel that you are unable to participate in mediation or a collaborative divorce for some reason, you can always proceed with litigation. this is what most people think of when they picture a standard divorce in New Jersey. Sometime couples need the extra help the courts can provide. They need protections put in place, or support established, and need a third party to decide on these issues. In those cases, it may be necessary to proceed with filing a Complaint for Divorce with the family court and working through the court system.