It’s been about six months since Gov. Chris Christie signed the New Jersey Collaborative Law Act, paving the way for kinder, gentler divorces in the Garden State. Collaborative Law divorce is a more amicable, and often less expensive, alternative to a traditional divorce trial.
The focus of collaborative divorce is to surround the spouses and their lawyers with a team of experts and the spirit of cooperation. While this practice has been used in New Jersey for a decade, the passage of the law makes it an official way to become divorced in the state. The options to divorce in New Jersey are to litigate, mediate, arbitrate, and now, to collaborate. New Jersey was the 11th state in the country to pass collaborative law divorce legislation.
According to the 2013 American Community Survey estimates, New Jersey has one of the lowest divorce rates in the country at 6.9 percent for women and 6.6 percent for men. The idea of collaborative divorce began taking shape in the 1990s when lawyers and family psychologists, who’d been working on elements of collaborative divorce, came together in their own sort of collaboration.
“We all quickly realized that divorce is not just a legal event,” said Talia Katz, CEO of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals, “It’s an emotional event. It’s a financial event.” Katz added, “Probably our biggest population of members in the U.S. are on the coasts. Collaborative divorce has really taken off on the East Coast, West Coast, and in Texas, Florida, and Georgia. Now it’s making its way toward middle America.”
Many attorneys and psychologists also believe that collaborative divorce is particularly good when children are involved. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 1.5 million children a year go through the divorce of their parents. The NIMH also reports that 20 to 25 percent of those children will suffer significant emotional and adjustment problems which they may carry into adulthood.
If you are considering a divorce and think collaborative law may be a good option for your family, you should contact a skilled family law attorney with experience in collaborative divorce. Ron Graziano of Graziano & Flynn represent divorcing couples in South Jersey. We handle traditional divorces and collaborative divorces, all custody and support cases, as well.