Frequently Asked Questions

What is Collaborative Divorce?

Collaborative Divorce is a  non-adversarial process which is an alternative to the traditional litigated divorce.

How is Collaborative Divorce different from a traditional divorce?

Collaboratively trained attorneys and their clients commit to reaching an agreement before going to court.   In a collaborative divorce, the goal is to form a problem-solving team where appropriate solutions can be found for each individual family.  The Team consists of both parties and their attorneys and may also include collaboratively trained financial and mental health experts, where needed.  The interests of the children are considered, as well as the interests of each party.

Does it cost more to have a Collaborative Divorce?

On the contrary, because attorney time is devoted to settlement meetings instead of time-consuming court appearances and filing, and because all experts are jointly retained, the cost iof a collaborative divorce is usually much less.

What happens if one of the parties files for divorce before the agreement is reached?

If either party files anything or threatens to file anything with the court before an agreement is reached, the attorneys for both parties must withdraw and each party will need to retain litigation counsel.

Will my attorney still zealously advocate for me if we don’t go to court?

Yes.  Your attorney will be your strong advocate throughout the process.  Since most issues will be resolved in meetings with your attorney or with your attorney and the other party and their counsel, you will be able to observe first-hand your attorney’s advocacy and negotiation skills. 

Does a Collaborative Divorce take more or less time than a litigated divorce?

Because the parties and their attorneys do not have to wait for the court to schedule anything, they can set up joint meetings at their convenience.  This allows the process to move along more quickly.

Why haven’t I heard of Collaborative Divorce before?

Collaborative practice got its start in the Mid-West and California in the 1990′s.  Recently, it has experienced tremendous growth on the East Coast.  In the past three years, five Collaborative groups have formed in New Jersey alone, encompassing nearly 200 collaborative professionals.

Does my attorney need special training to participate in a Collaborative Divorce?

Yes, your attorney and other professionals who will assist you in this process have received training in both Collaborative practice and mediation skills.

What is the difference between collaborative divorce and mediation?

In mediation, the parties sit with a mediator (a neutral professional) who assists them in deciding the issues in their divorce.  They usually consult with their attorneys for legal advice outside the mediation sessions.  Either party may opt out of mediation at any time, but their attorneys can continue to represent them.  In a collaborative divorce, the attorneys and the parties (and any joint experts they may select) sit together to negotiate and resolve the issues.  If either party or attorney files or threatens to file litigation, the collaborative process ends and the parties must seek llitigation counsel.

How do I know if my case is appropriate for either mediation or collaborative divorce?

If you are committed to working out your divorce issues without protracted litigation, if you are concerned about the negative impact that litigation will have on your children and/or if the expense of litigation is of concern, you should discuss the potential benefits of Alternate Dispute Resolution, including mediation and collaborative law, with your attorney.  If you know someone who has used one or both of these methods, talk to them.  You can also read about these alternatives on the web and talk to financial and mental health professionals who are familiar with mediation and collaborative law.

If my spouse or I have a business or a complex financial situation, can we still mediate or use collaborative divorce?

Absolutely.  Your mediator or collaborative attorneys will seek out a neutral financial expert(s) to provide assistance in resolving these issues.  But you will avoid the costly model of “dueling experts” that is often a part of litigation.

What if my spouse and I can’t agree on custody issues but we still don’t want to go to court?

A  joint custody expert can be selected to help you resolve issues concerning your children.  In the Collaborative Process, a Divorce Coach can also be utilized to assist each party in communicating with their spouse about child-related issues.  In Alternate Dispute Resolution, it is possible to try out different parenting arrangements before committing to a single one.  You are not under any court deadline that forces you to make a decision that may not be in your children’s best interest.

Can I use mediation or the collaborative process to resolve post-divorce issues or to work out the terms of a Pre-Nuptial or Post-Nuptial Agreement? 

Mediation and Collaborative Law can be effective for any family-related problem, including child support and college issues that may arise after the divorce is final.  These processes are also especially well-suited to negotiating the terms of a Pre-Nuptial Agrement since the parties are amicable and committed to a respectful resolution of any differences.

Please contact Risa A. Kleiner for more information at her Princeton office 609.951.2222 or by email at risa@rkleinerlaw.com.