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Although collaborative law is flexible enough to meet the needs of a variety of situations that arise in the separation and divorce process, collaborative law is not for everyone. It requires commitment on the part of both parties to work together honestly and with integrity. It also requires a desire from the couple to work with their lawyers to resolve the issues, instead of relying on an outside third party (a judge) to make decisions for them. Without this commitment, the process won't work.
The process begins with each party choosing an attorney trained and qualified in collaborative practice or talking with a collaboratively trained mental health professional. Both parties and their lawyers, with the assistance of divorce coaches and financial professionals, meet together to develop information, identify fears, concerns, goals and interests in order to formulate solutions to the problems presented.
Mediation is a private, confidential non-binding process where both parties are encouraged to work together toward an equitable resolution. It is a method in which parties negotiate resolutions of problems directly by working with a trained neutral professional, usually a lawyer, known as a mediator. Mediation takes place entirely out of court and without litigation.
Mediators are typically hired jointly by the parties. Like in the collaborative law process, the clients are in control of the final outcome.
In the messiness of life, however, there are situations in which negotiation may not work. By personality or circumstance, some people just seem destined to divorce the combative way - - in court. There are a number of reasons this may occur. Your spouse is angry and wants to use the divorce as a way of getting revenge. There is a history of intimidation and abuse. Your spouse refuses to talk about the divorce. A common reason is that your spouse has hired a combative attorney who through education and experience prefers to "settle" these matters in court. Finally, the belief that the legal system and its rules of evidence may assist in hiding substantial assets or conceal some other dishonst behavior.
The Public Policy of the State of New Jersey is to encourage settlement. Less than 2% of all cases actually go to trial. Courts should be dispute resolution venues of last resort.