Monday, September 29, 2014
Collaborative Law Act Directs NJ Toward Mediation
Most recently, the headlines have been cluttered with news about New Jersey alimony reform, but on September 10, 2014 Governor Christie also signed the New Jersey Family Collaborative Law Act into law which allows parties to engage a process very similar to mediation. Collaborative law is a derivation of mediation and/or other alternative dispute resolutions where a lawyer is hired to assist a client in solving family issues in a non-adversarial manner without utilizing the court system. In these types of situations the goal of both parties is to reach a resolution to their family law problems without resorting to litigation. Participants must enter into a collaborative law participation agreement which must be signed by the parties, include the parties' intention to resolve their issues using the collaborative law method, mention the confidentiality of the communications and evidence involved, establish the scope of the dispute, and detail how everything will begin and end. The agreement must also contain the identity of the collaborative lawyer representing the parties and define/limit that lawyer's role in the process. The process is concluded when there is a signed settlement agreement or a formal termination of the process. A party may terminate the process if and when: 1) giving notice in a record that the process has ended, with or without cause; 2) if and when a party files a document without the agreement of all parties; 3) if either party obtains or becomes subject to a temporary or final restraining order; 4) an action being initiated asking a tribunal issue a form of emergency relief to protect the health, safety, welfare, or interests of a party; 5) firing their collaborative law attorney; 6) a party does not provide all of the necessary information to properly resolves a dispute; or 7) the collaborative law attorney ceases further representation of a party. Utilizing alternative dispute resolution methods such as collaborative law or mediation can provide parties with a cost saving and emotionally softer approach to revolving their family law issues while avoiding the complex and expensive route of litigation. Collaborative law can be very powerful in theory but it requires that both parties act with reason and possess the motivation to resolve issues voluntarily and with good intentions. If you are thinking about filing for divorce or utilizing collaborative law, mediation, or any other alternative dispute resolution method during your divorce proceeding it is advisable that consult with an attorney who has experience in his area of the law. For more information about mediation, divorce, uncontested divorce, or other family law matters in New Jersey visit HeatherDarlingLawyer.com. This blog is for informational purposes and in no way intended to replace the advice of an attorney.