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New Jersey lawmakers considering collaborative divorce bills

New Jersey residents might soon have a new option when it comes to divorce. Two pending bills, S1224 and A1477, are codified, the state will join around 39 other states in allowing collaborative divorces.

Collaborative divorces can help to reduce the cost and speed the process associated with divorce. It is estimated that a contested divorce can take 12 to 18 months to complete, but a collaborative divorce can be completed just shy of seven months in some cases.

In the case of a collaborative divorce, the matters presented to the couple, including property division, are solved by working together with attorneys and other professionals. Instead of relying on the attorneys to battle it out when it comes to points of the divorce, both parties work together through negotiations, using good faith to get the matters resolved.

The success rate of collaborative divorces is seemingly high. Some estimates put that rate as high as 91 percent. Even if a couple can't come to an agreement about the matters in the divorce through the collaborative divorce method, they can still go through the normal court process. This means that a judge would issue rulings about the matters of the divorce.

The legislation would provide uniformity throughout the collaborative divorce process to ensure that all involved parties have the information necessary to negotiate. Both parties would sign an agreement to use the collaborative process for the divorce. Once an agreement is made, it would be presented to a judge for final questioning of both parties to ensure the agreement is fully understood.

If collaborative divorce becomes an option in New Jersey, it will be of utmost importance for you to understand your rights as you go through the process. Familiarizing yourself with applicable laws and getting answers to questions about them might help you to get a settlement that you can live with.

Source: NJSpotlight, "Collaborative Family Law Helps Take Litigation Out of Divorce" Bill Mooney, May. 02, 2014

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