Hunterdon County Collaborative Divorce Lawyers
What is Collaborative Divorce?
Collaborative divorce is an alternative to traditional divorce proceedings in court, based on a divorcing couple’s commitment to reaching mutual agreement regarding marital settlements. Both parties commit to engage in voluntary, adversarial, and flexible negotiations with specially trained collaborative attorneys and others to make decisions on division of marital property, child custody, support, financial decisions, and any other necessary decisions.
At the forefront, both parties and their attorneys must sign an agreement not to file a divorce complaint until a marital settlement is reached and maintain that the matter will not be brought before a court. To opt for a collaborative divorce, however, couples must qualify. In divorces involving histories of drug or alcohol addiction, domestic violence, child abuse, or other abusive and destructive behaviors, traditional courtroom divorces are the more appropriate method.
What Are the Benefits of a Collaborative Divorce?
Divorcing couples benefit from lower costs, less conflict, and more control over decisions regarding marital assets and child custody in a collaborative divorce versus traditional proceedings, which can be emotionally grueling. Other benefits include:
- Less time, usually months, not years
- Thousands of dollars less in court and attorney fees
- A team approach that sometimes includes specialists and the children
- Less trauma to the children and more emphasis they are still a part of a loving family
- Children avoid testifying
- Peaceful resolutions
The true value of a collaborative divorce is that it preserves family relationships. Divorcing couples maintain respect for one another and protect the children from contentious fighting, manipulation, courtroom litigation, and choosing “sides.” Collaborative divorces allow families to handle difficult situations in a more positive manner.
What is the Collaborative Divorce Process Like?
Collaborative divorce allows couples and their children to work together from the outset, creating a quicker, more productive, and less stressful process than traditional divorce. Collaborative divorce is not without its emotional moments, however, and your attorneys will provide you and your spouse with a divorce coach, a mental health professional who will help you work through the emotional elements to reach positive conclusions.
There may be several negotiation meetings throughout the process, which may include a divorce “team” of other professionals, such as accountants, appraisers, financial advisors, and others all working together to reach a unanimous settlement agreement. During this process, both parties will discuss and make decisions related to asset and debt division, child custody and support, alimony support, reallocation of investments and retirement accounts, and any other necessary factor.
In the case of child custody and co-parenting schedules, the divorce coach will likely meet with both parties together and separately to develop how to best divide time with the children.
Throughout the process you will sign written agreements as each issue is agreed upon and finalized. Once all are reached, the marital agreement will be completed and filed with the divorce petition with the court for the issuance of the final divorce decree.
How Long Does a Collaborative Divorce Take in New Jersey?
Collaborative divorces generally conclude in four to six months, depending on how quickly partners can reach mutual agreement during negotiation meetings, or anything unexpected occurs.
Traditional divorces in New Jersey typically take up to a year to complete, and sometimes longer if there are child custody or complicated financial concerns, unusually large marital property assets, or any other issues in disagreement between the parties.
Do I Need a Collaborative Divorce Lawyer?
Working with a collaborative attorney helps couples establish priorities and negotiate fair and reasonable solutions that benefit all members of the family. Each partner’s collaborative lawyer provides guidance, legal advice, and advocates for their clients in order to keep the process moving in a positive direction. This is especially helpful as there are often many separate meetings to negotiate legal, financial, child custody, support, and other issues in the divorce.
If necessary, the attorneys may require other professionals, such as accountants, financial advisors, mental health counselors, or child specialists to consult on certain aspects in discussion or negotiation. Collaborative divorces often involve a whole team working together with the entire family toward mutual agreements that benefit everyone.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will I Need to Go to Court During my Hunterdon County Divorce?
Generally, no, if the settlement agreement is reached through the negotiations, you do not have to attend a court hearing. Your attorney can simply file the settlement for the court to issue a final divorce decree.
What If We Cannot Reach an Agreement?
If all efforts to reach a settlement agreement fail, then the collaborative process is concluded and you must start over with traditional divorce proceedings, including hiring different attorneys. The rules of collaborative divorce prohibit your attorneys from representing you in the case of failed collaboration.
How Are Marital Assets Divided?
Marital assets – property, belongings, and investments obtained during the marriage – are divided equitably in New Jersey. Here is a guide on equitable distribution.
Contact our Hunterdon County law firm today at to speak with qualified Hunterdon County divorce lawyers about the goals you want to achieve in your Hunterdon County divorce.