Month October

  • The Social Network

    October 27, 2010

    Could it be that our society is becoming more collaborative in its approach to problem solving?  Despite the discouraging news about continuing hostilities in Afghanistan and Iraq, labor uprisings in France and a Presidential kidnapping in Ecuador, the average person is making more decisions than ever in concert with his or her colleagues.

    One need only look at email communication, instant messaging, texting, twitter, LinkedIn and other social networking to find more and greater evidence of collaborative decision making.  One person no longer makes the decisions in a vacuum.  Instead, colleagues and friends are consulted about even the most trivial decision.  When should we meet? Where should we have dinner? What movie should we see?  How can I solve a problem I’m having at work? at home? with friends?  We ask everyone’s opinion and often make a group decision where once we would have been left to our own devices.

    In this climate, it is only natural that we look to our trusted friends or colleagues or our professional connections to help us in our most critical decisions.  We’re of the mind that not only are two heads better than one, but input from many “experts” can enlighten us to possible solutions we never would have found on our own. 

    It is not much of a stretch to conclude that this form of social networking can also work to help us transition through the difficult times in our life.  Rather than feel alone in our misery of separation or divorce, we seek out others who have experience with this life changing event.  We look for help and advice from friends and– hopefully — from trained professionals as well.  Why settle for the opinion of just one “expert” when a team can provide multiple suggestions for a good outcome? 

    This team approach works when the “experts” are collaboratively trained attorneys, mental health and financial professionals.  In the final analysis, it is you who should make the ultimate decisions about your family, your finances and your future.  Why go it alone when you can use the collaborative process to gather advice from experienced professionals to make the best decisions you can. 

    For more information about Collaborative divorce, contact Risa A. Kleiner at 609.951.2222 or

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  • Selecting Your Divorce Attorney

    October 12, 2010

    If you’re contemplating a divorce, it is essential to consult an attorney who specializes in family law.   A Matrimonial Attorney who has been Certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey has passed a rigorous written exam and has demonstrated experience in the area of family law.  An attorney who serves on the court’s Early Settlement Panel has been recognized as experienced by the NJ courts.  An attorney who has mediation training and has qualfied as an Accredited Professional Mediator (APM) has taken at least 40 hours of mediation training and has mediated  numerous cases.  

    In handling a divorce, experience and empathy count.  Look for someone who specializes in family law and has handled divorce cases for at least 10 years.  Make sure your attorney’s style and approach are a good match for your goals.  Are you looking to fight all the way to the courthouse and willing to foot the bill for this fight?  Then seek an experienced litigator.  Are you looking for cost containment and a more peaceful transition through the divorce process.  Consider a mediation-friendly and/or a Collaboratively trained attorney who is adept at giving their clients a greater role in settling cases. 

    Choose wisely.  Talk about your goals with your prospective attorney.  See if you feel comfortable having that person handle one of the most important transitions in your life.  Listen for reasonable and carefully thought out solutions to the issues.  Meet with several attorneys so you can compare approaches and styles.  To be a successful partnership, the attorney-client relationship requires trust and a personal connection. 

    Family law attorneys are required to have you sign an Engagement letter or Retainer which spells out your rights and obligations.  You will be asked to pay a retainer fee, money which goes into your account and is used to pay your monthly bill.  Make sure you understand the hourly fee, what disbursements will be charged and when you may be required to replenish your retainer.  Find out how often you will receive bills.  Ask for an estimate of what the case will cost so you can plan for these expenses.  While it is difficult for any attorney to predict the ultimate cost of your divorce, your attorney can give you an idea of the diffence in cost between litigation (most expensive), Collaborative Divorce, and Mediation (usually least expensive.)  And ask how long your divorce can be expected to take in each of these processes.

    You are the client and can choose the process.  Make sure you understand the differences and choose an attorney who shares your goals.

    For more information about representation in your divorce, contact Risa A. Kleiner, Esq. at 609.951.2222 or


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  • Why Clients Like Collaborative Law


    October 4, 2010

    What makes Collaborative Practice so attractive to clients?  Recent collaborative clients have summarized the best parts of a Collaborative divorce as follows:

    • Privacy – nothing goes to court until everything is settled in a written and signed Agreement.  All discussions take place in the lawyers’ offices.
    • Timing – on average, a Collaborative Divorce takes less than 6 months; litigated divorces take at least twice that long.
    • Informal Discovery – financial documents are exchanged as needed, upon request.  There are no Interrogatories, Notices to Produce or Depositions that are time-consuming and expensive.
    • Interest-based Negotiations – it’s all about what the parties “need” to move forward, not about unrealistic “wants” and demands.
    • Use of joint experts – forensic and custodial experts are retained jointly to help the family
    • Protection of Children’s Interests – parties stay calmer as their communication improves and their children are spared damaging emotional fights.
    • Cost containment – a collaborative divorce is far less costly than litigation.

    Divorce doesn’t have to be an anxiety-ridden process.  While never easy, divorce does not have to destroy the parties’ability to communicate and work together for the best interests of their children, both during and after the process.  Collaborative Divorce is a better divorce because it envisions and addresses a transition to the future for the entire family.

    For more information about Collaborative Divorce, contact Risa at 609.951.2222 to set up an appointment.  See also for additional information.

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