02/23/2017 - A New Gentler, Kinder Way To Be Divorced In New Jersey

Late 2014 Gov. Christie signed the New Jersey Family Collaborative Law Act, making New Jersey the ninth of 11 states to legitimize a practice suggested by advocates as more speedy and less costly than traditional divorce.

The divorce figures in the Garden State are: and 6.6 per 1,000 men and 6.9 per 1,000 women, ranking it among the lowest in the nation, according to 2013 American Community Survey estimates. For a decade the spouse and their lawyers have been encouraged to be enveloped in experts and a copoperatvie agenda. With the inauguration of legal change it has become the fourth way to become divorced in New Jersey: Litigate, mediate, arbitrate, or collaborate have become the options of the day.

However getting the message across to divorcing couples that seperations does not have to be an adversarial relationship. In classic collaborative divorce style, a mental health professional and a financial expert-only one, in each specialty-are drawn into the process.

Topics for discussion include how life would be for children after the divorce and finances. Having joint experts, instead of each party calling in his or her own, can be a big savings in the divorce process. With litigation, you could end up with two or three experts that all have to be paid thousands of dollars.Significantly, New Jersey's new law extends the privilege of confidentiality to all the professionals on the collaborative team, according to Valerie Brown, who lobbied for the New Jersey Family Collaborative Law Act on behalf of the New Jersey Council of Collaborative Practice Groups.

The extension means that confidentiality of the divorce proceedings can’t be breached without the permission of the client.

Managing emotions, even minimizing them, is the role of the divorce coach, a role played by Aaron Welt of Morristown, a clinical psychologist with a doctorate. A divorce coach, he said, keeps an eye out for the well-being of the individuals involved but also for the divorce process itself.

"In divorce there are many feelings-hurt, sadness, anger, loss-which can create roadblocks to progress in a divorce process," Welt said. "If there was ever a time when you needed to be able to analyze clearly and formulate an effective strategy, it's when you have to get yourself through a divorce.

Collaborative divorce is an idea that's time has come, as proven by the fact that the New Jersey Family Collaborative Law Act unanimously passed both houses of the legislature.

Editor: J.P.Rosen



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