The breakdown of a marriage is difficult under even the "best" of circumstances but it can be made much worse when a couple ends up locked in bitter litigation, fighting over custody or alimony, and using the legal process as a way to settle old scores. A family can literally be torn apart with everyone coming out on the losing end of a long court battle.
That is why I am an enthusiastic supporter of The Collaborative Divorce process. It is an approach that is still relatively new in New Jersey, only having been adopted by the Legislature in 2014. Many couples facing a divorce are completely unaware that there is this option to consider.
One reason so few people know about The Collaborative Divorce process is that many divorce lawyers in Bergen County NJ are still uncertain about what it is and how it works.
How Collaborative Divorce works
A Collaborative Divorce starts with a couple and their lawyers entering into a participation agreement. The essence of this agreement is that the couple and their respective lawyers agree that they will cooperate, in good faith, in trying to resolve all issues relating to the divorce without resorting to litigation. The divorce lawyers in Bergen County NJ agree that they will not represent their client in any contested divorce matter against the other spouse. It is a very simple agreement but it accomplishes an important objective. It establishes a framework from the outset in which there is great incentive to cooperate.
Another important change in the way Collaborative Divorce works is that if the couple decides to retain experts, they can do so jointly. Often times it helps if the couple retains a divorce coach who provides neutral guidance and feedback on how the parties are interacting and to help keep everyone positively engaged in the process. If there are emotional issues to be resolved, then together the parties will hire a therapist or counselor who will provide advice. Similarly, financial issues will be addressed by retaining a financial/forensic expert who works for the couple, or with a therapist trained in dealing with children and other issues that come up frequently in the divorce process. This is another crucial way to avoid the pitfalls of an adversarial approach, by working with experts to provide disinterested advice instead of hiring experts to promote one side against the other. The idea of a joint expert (usually frowned upon by litigators) can be embraced in a Collaborative Divorce as a less costly way to achieve the same or perhaps an even better result.
In short, the concept of Collaborative Divorce gives clients and divorce lawyers in Bergen County NJ an opportunity to think about divorce in a different and more constructive way. As a divorce lawyer in Bergen County, many new clients come to my office looking to hire the toughest lawyer he/she can find so they are sometimes surprised when I introduce the concept of Collaborative Divorce. I find most people are actually quite receptive to the idea once they understand it. I think that is because it is so much easier to be friendly than to fight -even for a couple ending their marriage.
No doubt a collaborative approach makes particular sense for divorcing couples with children, in order to avoid having the children caught in the crossfire of a courtroom battle. Collaborative Divorce even makes sense when no kids and custody issues are involved. When the parties allow themselves the freedom to negotiate without the threat of litigation, I have found the negotiations to be friendly and the results to be creative, thoughtful and more productive for all members of the family.
Our divorce lawyer in Bergen County NJ can assist you in closing this difficult chapter of your life. When all is said and done, the end result of a Collaborative Divorce may end up pretty much the same as a traditional approach. But a new way to think about resolving the issues nonetheless often proves tremendously beneficial in improving a family's quality of life.
Are you looking for an experienced divorce lawyer in Bergen County NJ? Contact Feitlin, Youngman, Karas and Gerson today at (201) 791-4400.
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