The word is really starting to get out about the collaborative divorce process!

The October 17th edition of the Family Circle Magazine has a GREAT article on collaborative divorce entitled “The Friendly Divorce”. The article identifies four (4) benefits to couples who choose to divorce using the collaborative divorce process: Less Bitterness; Lower Expenses; Quicker Results; and, a Custom Solution. The article directs the reader to the website of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals to find attorneys who practice collaborative divorce law.

Although the collaborative law movement is relatively new in New Jersey, there are a number of interdisciplinary collaborative divorce groups in New Jersey. The most established group is the Jersey Shore Collaborative Law Group. There are two other existing collaborative groups, the North Jersey Collaborative Law Group and the NJ Collaborative Divorce Alliance. On June 16, 2008, the Central Jersey Collaborative Law Group (CJCLG) was formed, making it the fourth collaborative practice group in New Jersey. There are approx. thirty members in this new group. The CJCLG is an interdisciplinary organization with members from the legal, mental health and financial professions. The majority of the CJCLG membership practice in Hunterdon, Somerset, Morris, and Union Counties. (I am a member of the nascent CJCLG and will report further on the group’s progress on my blog.)

In the collaborative law model, lawyers and parties sign a “participation agreement” that sets out a negotiation process intended to produce an agreement that is fair for both parties. Typically, the participation agreement includes terms committing parties to negotiate in good faith, act respectfully toward each other, disclose all relevant information, use jointly retained experts, protect confidentiality of communications, and refrain from formal discovery and contested litigation during negotiation. A “disqualification agreement” is an essential element of the collaborative model. It provides that if any party litigates (or threatens litigation), all the lawyers are disqualified from representing the parties, who must hire new lawyers if they want legal representation.