It’s not often that you can say that history was made in the area of family law, but that’s exactly what happened this past fall when Governor Chris Christie signed the New Jersey Family Collaborative Law Act into law.
What made this action so significant from both a legal and historical perspective is that it added a fourth way for couples to officially become divorced in the Garden State, meaning the options for separating spouses now include litigation, arbitration, mediation and now collaboration.
What exactly is collaborative divorce?
In the collaborative divorce process, the spouses, each of whom are represented by their own attorney, come together to resolve divorce-related issues like property division, alimony, child custody and child support.
As exemplified by the fact that the parties sit at a round table and sign a participation agreement, the idea is for the atmosphere to remain calm, constructive and entirely cooperative.
What is a participation agreement?
A participation agreement is a document signed by both the spouses and their attorneys pledging to work collaboratively and indicating that the matter will have to be resolved in court — with different attorneys — in the event discussions break down.
Is collaborative divorce successful?
According to the specially trained attorneys who take part in the process, the collaborative divorce process is almost always successful.
While this is largely because they are trained to identify which couples would be a good fit for the process, some of it can also be attributed to the fact that couples quickly start to see the benefits of adopting a non-adversarial approach.
We’ll continue to examine this topic in our next post, including taking a closer look at some of the advantages of collaborative divorce and the process itself.
If you are considering divorce and would like to learn more about all of the options available to you, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional who can explain the law, outline your rights and answer your questions.
Source: The Daily Record, “New way to divorce taking root in NJ,” Lorraine Ash, Feb. 22, 2015