what is collaborative divorce?

The Collaborative Practice approach to divorce emphasizes communication and cooperation, rather than conflict. Collaborative Law is a legal process that helps couples avoid the expensive and uncertain outcome of a court battle. Collaborative Divorce enables the professionals to help the spouses craft a settlement that best meets their individual needs as well as the needs of their children.

 

A Collaborative Divorce has three foundational principles:

1. Promise: Both spouses  and each of their attorneys promise in writing not to take the dispute to court.  This puts everyone on the same side of the table focusing on problem solving and reaching agreements.

2. Transparency: There is complete, open and transparent communication between clients, attorneys, and other professionals working on behalf of the spouses.

3.  Efficiency: Negotiations are conducted in a manner that leads to mutually acceptable agreements on all issues.  This framework takes into account the goals, priorities, and interests of all family members.

 

Collaborative Law explained...

 

ABOUT THE NJCLG

The New Jersey Collaborative Law Group was established in June of 2008. As an educational, not-for-profit association of collaborative divorce professionals, NJCLG serves the counties of Essex, Union, Morris, Somerset, Hunterdon, Warren, Bergen, Passaic, Mercer and Sussex. The members of NJCLG are members of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals. To arrange a preliminary consultation, contact a NJCLG professional.

 

TRAINING CRITERIA

What sets NJCLG professionals apart are the requirements of all members to be licensed in the State of New Jersey in the fields of law, finance or mental health and to complete at least 16 hours of collaborative training and required mediation training.  Further, all members are committed to participate in at least 4 hours of additional trainings each year.

The Collaborative Team 

The collaborative team may include trained attorneys, a divorce coach and financial professionals and other specialists as needed.  This versatility is one of the hallmarks of the collaborative law process, which seeks to customize both the approach to resolution and the final settlement.

Click on the buttons below to learn about how other professionals can contribute to this process.

 

EXPERIENCED PROFESSIONALS

What sets NJCLG professionals apart are the requirements of all members to be licensed in the State of New Jersey in the fields of law, finance or mental health and to complete at least 16 hours of collaborative training and required mediation training.  Further, all members are committed to participate in at least 4 hours of additional trainings each year.

legal

Collaborative Divorce Attorneys, or Collaboratively Trained Lawyers are highly skilled family law attorneys who are experienced in negotiation and medication techniques.  NJCLG attorneys must receive special training in the collaborative law process as well as in mediation.  A Collaborative attorney will assist the client in identifying their needs and interests, discuss all legal and practical options, brainstorm solutions, negotiate a settlement, and prepare the court documents necessary to finalize the divorce.    The attorney provides legal support throughout the process.

To search for a Collaborative Attorney, click here

family support

The Collaborative Divorce Coach is a fundamental member of the collaborative divorce team, helping to preserve the mental and emotional health of the divorcing couple. The Coach is a licensed mental health professional with specialized training in Collaborative Practice and mediation techniques. They assist each spouse and the team professionals in communicating effectively within the process.  The Divorce Coach meets with the spouses  either jointly or separately depending on their needs, but does not act as a therapist. Rather, the Coach uses his or her professional training and experience to assist you and your team to manage emotional and psychological issues with the goal of promoting a smooth and efficient collaborative process. The Coach also communicates with the team to provide insight and assistance to help facilitate discussions and negotiations.

The coach can join, as needed, the spouses and their collaborative law attorneys in a series of five-way meetings preliminary to settlement, and works to keep conflict at a minimum, which allows for a smoother and more harmonious divorce.  Less conflict can lead to less emotional and financial costs.

The Collaborative Divorce Coach performs these functions:

  • Identifies and prioritizes your interests and concerns.

  • Provides emotional support as you move through emotions such as loss, grief and anger which are often a feature of separation or other difficult family law issues.

  • Identifies and offers assistance in dealing with and managing strong emotions that might interfere with reaching a settlement.

  • Uses his or her training to promote effective communication throughout the collaborative process.

  • Helps you to develop and implement an effective parenting plan.

  • Helps you to learn and maintain skills for co-parenting.

  • Assists you and your team to manage any roadblocks to the resolution of your divorce or family law matter.

 

Another role that mental health professionals can play in a Collaborative Divorce is that of the  Child Specialist, a licensed mental health professional with specific training in family systems and child development relevant to child custody or parenting issues.  The Child Specialist helps parents and the team to remain focused on the feelings and needs of any children involved. This provides the parents with valuable information, options, ideas, and suggestions that reflect the best interests of the children.  The Child Specialist can meet with parents to obtain developmental information, identify family strengths and set goals for the children’s needs in the process.  The Child Specialist can also meet with the children to assess their current and future hopes and needs.

The child specialist has four primary responsibilities:

  • To be the representative of the child or children’s feelings, needs, and interests.

  • To be the child or children's “voice” in the collaborative process.

  • To provide parents with information and guidance to help their children throughout their collaborative legal matter.

  • To provide information to the team that will assist in developing an effective co-parenting plan that prioritizes the needs of the children.

Note that sometimes the role of Coach and Child Specialist will be performed by the same mental health professional, while at other times these roles will be divided between two mental health professionals.

To search for a Family Support Professional, click here

financial

Financial Specialists help you gather, understand, organize and value your financial assets. They identify and clarify financial goals and interests and comprehend short and long term implications of settlement options.

The financial specialist is a licensed professional, and meets additional training requirements to qualify him or her to handle the unique financial challenges presented in divorce and family law cases.

The financial specialist assists you by:

  • Facilitating safe, honest and informed financial communication

  • Providing an unbiased assessment of your finances through acting in a neutral role

  • Utilizing charts and graphs to help you and your attorneys understand the estimated tax and financial results of settlement ideas concerning support and asset division

  • Working with the Collaborative Team to stay on track with financial topics and maintain open communication around finances

  • Helping you to construct and gather budget and net worth data to promote conversation and settlement.

To search for a Financial Professional, click here


Other Team Members: In addition to attorneys, family relations, child and financial specialists, you may choose to retain other experts or consultants such as appraisers, mortgage brokers or vocational experts. Unlike traditional litigated cases, where the parties hire competing experts to "fight it out," both parties in the collaborative process jointly retain the experts they need and consider the options the experts present.

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Is collaborative expensive?

Because you control the process, you control the costs.

What is Collaborative Practice?

Click here for more information

How do I get started on a Collaborative Divorce?

Click here to read about the process

What are the roles of the professionals in Collaborative Divorce Practice?

Click here to learn about our experienced professionals

How do I find a Collaborative Divorce Attorney for my spouse?

You can either obtain referrals from your Collaborative Divorce Attorney, other Collaborative Divorce Professionals, or direct your spouse to the Member Search section of this website click here.

Are all divorce cases appropriate for Collaborative Practice?

Every case is different, and the NJCLG recognizes that. So, while not all cases may be ideal for the Collaborative Divorce Practice, there is no guarantee that other processes will be ideal for your circumstances either. It is critically important that you discuss the circumstances of your situation with a collaborative professional.  Great care must be taken to assess the likelihood of successfully navigating the Collaborative Divorce process. Spouses find that Collaborative Divorce provides additional support that no other process can. If you are unsure if collaborative divorce would fit your needs, please feel free to contact any of our professionals for a case analysis. Your Collaborative Divorce Professional is in the best position to help determine whether or not the Collaborative Divorce Practice is appropriate for you.

Can Collaborative Practice be used for divorce cases that have already been filed with the Court?

Yes. Both spouses can direct their litigating attorneys to request that the case be withdrawn for a period of time, in order to permit them to attempt to resolve all issues through Collaborative practice.

If you and your spouse wish to opt out of a litigated case and are interested in exploring Collaborative Practice, you should contact one of our Collaborative Divorce Attorneys (click here).

Can Collaborative Practice be used in other family law cases?

Yes.  Collaborative Practice can work for many types of family law matters other than divorce, such as child custody/parenting time, child support, postnuptial agreements, and post-divorce matters.

Collaborative Practice is particularly helpful in cases where both parents put the needs of their children first, but require legal guidance or other support to reach agreement.

It is also well suited to other types of case where preserving continuing relationships is an important factor, such as those involving estate matters, elder law issues, and business partnership claims.