How the Family Collaborative Law Act changes divorce in New Jersey

Collaborative divorce is becoming more popular, but there are risks for couples

Late last year New Jersey passed the Family Collaborative Law Act, which helped make collaborative divorce one of the 'official' ways to divorce in the state, according to the Daily Record. While the act helps legitimize an area of family law that has been growing in popularity in recent years, couples should be aware that there are limitations to collaborative divorce that they should be aware of beforehand. While collaborative divorce may be a cheaper and more effective way to divorce for many people, it could also seriously jeopardize issues related to property division and other family law concerns for some couples.

Family Collaborative Law Act

The New Jersey Family Collaborative Law Act was passed into law last fall and made New Jersey the ninth state to pass such legislation. Since that time, the total number of states with a collaborative divorce law has grown to 11. The law makes collaborative divorce an officially recognized divorce process in New Jersey, along with litigation, mediation and arbitration. Additionally, the law significantly expands confidentiality protections for people who choose the collaborative divorce route.

Proponents of collaborative divorce, which utilizes a team of experts, such as attorneys, therapists, financial planners, and child behavioral experts, in an out-of-court setting, say the process tends to be cheaper and easier than litigation. Collaborative divorce, experts say, has grown in popularity in recent years, especially in the eastern and western coastal regions of the country.

Limitations exist

While there are certainly benefits to collaborative divorce, there are also plenty of risks. As U.S. News & World Report points out, out-of-court divorce often sounds attractive to people who are not necessarily well suited for such a process. As many divorcing couples know, maintaining an amicable relationship during a divorce can be extremely difficult, yet it is all but mandatory to maintain a good relationship with an ex-spouse in order for collaboration to succeed.

Furthermore, collaborative divorce can sometimes end up benefiting one spouse over the other. A person who feels bullied by a former spouse or intimidated into accepting an unfair offer is unlikely to benefit from collaborative divorce. Because a judge is not present during a collaborative divorce, a spouse who is in a weaker position financially or emotionally tends to enjoy fewer protections that a court would otherwise provide, thus exposing him or her to an unfair division of property or related concern.

Family law

When it comes to divorce, it is important to make sure it is done right the first time. An experienced family law attorney can help provide the compassion and understanding that people going through a divorce want, along with the ability and dedication to represent a client's interests in court if necessary.