Can my divorce really be "collaborative"?

If there is one thing for certain, a Collaborative Divorce is not for everyone. With that said, traditional litigation is also not a one size fits all means of dissolving a marriage. Most couples on the precipice of divorce find themselves faced with a range of visceral reactions. Often, these reactions can serve to obstruct a party’s ability to adequately and appropriately consider all of the ways in which they can “consciously uncouple.” With a “War of Roses” approach becoming ever more passé, and party’s desire to be both economical and civil, collaboratively divorcing has become a wonderful alternative to traditional means of litigation. A collaborative divorce offers parties a non-adversarial, team-oriented, structured alternative for resolution of even the most complex matrimonial dissolution and child custody and parenting time matters.

Unlike the traditional, Court-driven dissolution process, the collaborative process offers a solutions oriented means of resolving familial, parenting and financial related issues. All members of the parties’ “team” share the same end goal….to facilitate a dissolution process that will meet the unique goals and objectives of each family. Rather than working with one another as adversaries, counsel for each party (all of whom must undergo a strict and specialized trainings in order to be considered a collaboratively trained professional) work to assemble the necessary team members (a mental health professional, a coach, a child specialist, a forensic expert, or any combination thereof) to meet the settlement goals and objectives of each couple. Parties wishing to pursue the collaborative divorce process sign a Participation Agreement, which, in relevant part underscores that the collaborative process will end if either party files a Complaint for Divorce, or seeks to pursue traditional means of litigation. Should a party wish to terminate the collaborative process, however, neither individual is permitted to hire any lawyer, or law firm, that represented them in the collaborative process. The philosophy is to keep parties invested in the commitment they have made to resolve their matter outside the bounds of the Courtroom.

Unlike traditional litigation, the collaborative process is very much client-centered, allowing parties to take control of their destiny and meaningfully partake in the vital decision-making that will serve to affect their future. With the assistance of counsel, and experts, problem solving coupled with sage legal advice assists in laying the proverbial groundwork for short and long term resolution and success. Our own Court system in the State of New Jersey has acknowledge the value of the collaborative process with the New Jersey Administrative Office of the Courts having recently approved the collaborative process as a means of alternative dispute resolution.

The collaborative process provides the ability for civilized resolution of matrimonial issues, in a predictable, creative environment where professionals are working together, with one another and with the parties, to develop a range of individualized options for the most successful resolution-driven outcomes. As with all matters, however, there are a wide range of variables that may make the success of a collaborative process more or less viable. As such, it is best to consult with a collaboratively trained professional to best assess the variables in your case.


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