When is Collaborative Law Appropriate

Collaborative Law is not appropriate for every couple, the same way it is not an idea accepted by every attorney. Couples need to be committed to the process and willing to negotiate in good faith. This means they need to be willing to disclose information freely, willing to consider proposals placed on the table, willing to make compromises and concessions, and willing to wait while the process runs its course before filing for divorce. This does not mean that they have to like each other, or be willing to just fold on their issues; it only means that they have to be willing to try and consider the options before them.

What are the benefits of a Collaborative Law divorce?

If successful, a collaborative divorce can save you time and money while reducing the stress of the separation by eliminating the courts. Since there is no divorce complaint pending, there are mandatory conferences or deadlines for submissions forcing you to incur legal fees that otherwise could have been avoided. Also, when you do meet, the time is spent constructively so you are not forced to watch your attorney sit and wait to be heard, knowing you are paying for that time. In addition, without the courtroom, there is no need for posturing or finger pointing which only serve to increase anger and hostility. All of your attention can be focused on resolving an issue, rather than assigning blame. Finally, you control the final resolution. You create your agreement, as opposed to a Judge, who will never know your case as well as you do, dictating what should take place.

How long does a Collaborative Law divorce take in NJ?

The amount of time a collaborative divorce takes depends almost entirely upon the couple. Obviously, a couple is more willing to compromise and reach agreements on their issues will work through the process faster than a couple that is stuck on respective positions. Some divorces can be completed in one a few meetings, while others may required several sessions with multiple experts. In the end, however, you control how long the process takes since you are the one deciding when the meetings will be scheduled and you are the one who decides what an acceptable outcome is.

What about complex divorces and collaborative law?

Collaborative law is an excellent option in complex divorces. In fact, it may be better suited for complex divorces than litigation since you will avoid having dueling experts. In a litigated divorce, each party is permitted to retain their own expert. In addition, the court can choose to appoint an expert of its own. What frequently happens is one expert issues a report that the other party is not happy with. They will in turn hire their own expert to write a report saying the first report was wrong for some reason. Once it is faced with the two competing reports, the court can then choose to appoint its own expert. By the end, months if not years have gone by and tens of thousands of dollars have been spent. In a collaborative divorce, all experts are retained jointly. This means that there will be one report that both parties will rely upon in reaching any agreements.

What about children and collaborative law? How will the kids be effected?

One of the worst things about litigation is the added stress this places on a couple and their children. Too frequently, the anger and frustration that the parents feel after being forced to fight things out in the courtroom overflow onto the children. The Collaborative Divorce process works to alleviate that stress and makes reducing the impact on the children a primary goal by eliminating the drama of the courtroom and providing resources to the parents that would otherwise not be available. If the parents feel that they need help dealing with their anger towards each other, or that they need help re-learning how to communicate with each other in a constructive manner, they can have a divorce coach as a member of their team. The coach would be a mental health professional who would meet with the couple and work with them to find ways to alleviate the stress the separation is placing on them, and as a result, reduce the stress on the children.

How does modification of orders and collaborative law work?

Just as with the divorce, a couple can agree to address any future changes to their final orders collaboratively. Any order, whether obtained through litigation or collaborative law, can be subject to modification in the future should circumstances change. In some instances, the litigation to address a request to modify an order can take as long and cost as much as the original divorce itself. Rather than submit the issue to the courts, you can agree to return to the collaborative process to discuss a modification. Even if your original order was not the result of a collaborative process, you can agree to try collaborative law to work through the issue. In the end it could save you precious time and money.