Collaborative family law, a form of alternative dispute resolution, originated in California about 10 years ago and came to the Philadelphia and New Jersey area about 8 years ago. Collaborative divorce is a team-approach where the primary focuses are cooperation, respect among parties, and litigation avoidance.
Unlike divorce mediation and arbitration, the parties are represented by their respective attorneys throughout the entire process. The attorneys are trained in the collaborative form of divorce and refrain from being adversarial like the typical litigated divorce scenerio. Each party and their respective attorneys sign an agreement to participate to keep the matter out of court. If litigation becomes unavoidable, the lawyers must withdraw from the case.
Once a collaborative matter commences, a team of professionals help the parties reach a fair solution that is mutually beneficial and agreeable to both parties. The collaborative team consists of parties, counsels of each, mental health specialist, financial advisor, a divorce coach (if applicable), and a parenting specialist (if applicable). All the professionals have been trained under the collaborative divorce approach. While the experts are engaging in their designated duties, the parties and counsel engage in a series of four-way meetings. An agenda is prepared to keep the case and information gathering on track. Trust and transparency in discovery is critical to success of the process. The parties agree in writing at the beginning of the process, that they will voluntary disclose all relevant information about income, assets and debts of both parties. The main benefit to collaborative divorce is that the parties are informed and they control and negotiate their own divorce agreement. Agreements that are fair to both sides are usually more successful in the long run.
Role of Mental Health Professional
The parties meet with the mental health expert without counsel, but share all the information with their respective attorneys. Mental health professionals may contact third parties such as teachers, psychologists, and family members who have relevant information concerning child custody. The lawyer's role in the process is to provide legal advice concerning issues such as relocation, tutoring, daycare, private/public school selection, special needs for the children so on, and so forth.
Role of Financial Professional
Generally, one party in the marriage has significantly more knowledge of the finances of the family than the other. The financial expert helps to neutralize the unbalance and help the spouse with less knowledge understand the financial situation of the family and how to create a budget for the future based on the lifestyle change caused by divorce. The financial experts are all Certified Divorce Financial Analysts (CDFA), a designation for financial advisors with special training to divorce matters. After gathering all the necessary documents, the CDFA prepares a report regarding the parties' income(s), spending plans, assets, liabilities, breakdown between marital and non-marital property and a proposed distribution schedule. Unlike the traditional divorce setting, in a collaborative case, the financial expert projects the value of the assets and incomes through the future to construct a distribution and support scheme that considers future variables, such as interest, inflation and non/liquidity of assets. In a litigated case, the court basically takes a snapshot of
the economic circumstances on the date of distribution.
Attorney Tejal V. Patel, is a trained collaborative divorce attorney. For more information about Collaborative divorce please visit the Collaborative Divorce link on our website. TVPlaw.net
If you are interested in a more peaceful, faster, and less expensive divorce, call The Law Offices of Tejal V. Patel, LLC. to get more information about the NO-COURT SOLUTION TO DIVORCE!!
Tejal V. Patel, Esq .
The Law Offices of Tejal V. Patel, LLC.
One Greentree Centre, 10000 Lincoln Dr. East, Suite 201, Marlton, NJ 08053
[T] 856.988.5453 [F] 888.946.9987 [E] [email protected]