In the fall of 2014, Governor Christie signed into law the New Jersey Family Collaborative Law Act (“NJFCLA”). Prior to that, many family lawyers along with other professionals such as therapists and accountants banded together around the state to ask the Supreme Court for permission to practice collaborative divorce. Collaborative Divorce has been described as an out of court process, using a team of interdisciplinary professionals to help divorcing spouses enter into a settlement agreement prior to filing their divorce in court. This process has been around since the early 90’s and has been gaining popularity in several states. Currently, ten other states around the country have passed similar initiatives. Proponents say this process is not adversarial, cost effective, and quick in comparison to the other methods that include traditional litigation, mediation, and arbitration. Parties interested in pursuing collaborative divorce must enter into a participation agreement, stipulating they will work together in good faith and not prematurely leave the process.
Assemblyman Holly Schepisi (R-Dist. 39) introduced the New Jersey Collaborative Law Act, or NJFCLA, due to concerns over the expensive cost of living in New Jersey coupled with the high cost of divorce. Statistics suggest that 97 percent of divorce cases settle before trial in New Jersey, which makes collaborative divorce even more attractive. However what do you do if your spouse refuses to engage in this process or pay the interdisciplinary team? What if during the pendency of the process your spouse suddenly disagrees with the recommendations of the financial or mental health experts regarding division of assets or the parenting plan?
Lack of cooperation of the divorcing spouses or the adversarial posture of the parties may make collaborative divorce less appealing, especially if there is a history of domestic violence. Divorcing spouses may be distrustful, not transparent, and may not want to divulge information regarding assets, debts, or other private matters. Some opponents argue that the process may be more expensive than mediation. With mediation, the parties have the option to represent themselves or retain an attorney. Also the attorneys on both sides in a collaborative divorce are motivated to settle the case short of court intervention and may not necessarily act in the interest of their own respective client. If the process fails, the parties will have to start all over again and hire new attorneys.
The Bronzino Law Firm: Helping Clients Determine Whether Which Divorce Process Suits Their Needs
Every family law case that walks through our doors is unique. You may have heard or read about the benefits of the collaborative divorce process. However, despite the best of intentions, collaborative divorce may unravel, causing the parties to restart the divorce process all over again. If you need assistance in determining whether this process is right for you, please contact The Bronzino Law Firm at our toll free number (732) 812-3102 for a complimentary consultation. We have several years of experience practicing family law in Ocean County and Monmouth County, including the surrounding areas.