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New Jersey Family Collaborative Law Act

Sep 17, 2014 | Written by: William J. Rudnik, Esq. |

We are pleased to advise that Governor Christie signed the New Jersey Family Collaborative Law Act into law on September 10, 2014.  This act provides further support for collaborative law as an excellent alternative to resolving family law disputes, rather than using the litigation process.  Collaborative divorce is based on three principles where

(1) the parties pledge not to go to Court,

(2) provide an honest exchange of information, and

(3) consider solutions that take into account the highest priorities of both parties and the children. 

The focus in a collaborative case is on the future, and the goal is to lead the family to a compassionate ending, and a healthy new beginning. 

The new law provides the definition of the collaborative law process where the parties agree to use this dispute resolution method as a replacement for litigation.  The collaborative process will terminate if either party or either attorney files a Court action prior to the settlement of the case.  The Act provides that communications made during the collaborative law process are protected as privileged, whether they are made by party’s attorneys or neutral experts.  This is to enable participants to participate candidly in the process. 

In order for a case to fall within the New Jersey Family Collaborative Law Act, the parties and the attorneys need to sign a Participation Agreement and the parties need to be represented by collaborative lawyers, trained in the process.  The Act also outlines what the Participation Agreement must contain. 

The collaborative law process is concluded by either a settlement signed by the parties, or termination of the process.  Either party may terminate the process at any point in time, with or without cost, and the process is voluntary.  If the process is terminated, each party must obtain a new lawyer for the litigation process, and any party cannot use any lawyer within their collaborative lawyer’s firm to represent them in the litigation process. 

A copy of the New Jersey Family Collaborative Act can be read here

Our office provides collaborative law services in family law matters.  Both William J. Rudnik, Esq. and Diana N. Fredericks, Esq., partners in our Family Law Department, are trained in the collaborative process and can provide collaborative law services.  

We encourage you to contact our office at 908-735-5161 to find out more about the collaborative law process as an option, and the services our firm can provide for you.