In a follow up story to one of our earlier blogs, New Jersey’s Collaborative Law Act passed the Senate unanimously on June 26, 2014. New Jersey will be the eighth state to have enacted collaborative divorce legislation once Governor Christie signs the bill into law. This is major news to families in New Jersey who have legislation to address the newest alternative to the traditional courtroom approach. Collaborative divorce appeals to many divorcing couples as it provides a confidential, less costly and more peaceful method for couples obtaining a divorce.
Key provisions of the act, the Family Collaborative Law Act, S-1224, include: both parties must receive relevant information without having to resort to the process of formal discovery; all information and communications are to be kept confidential; and if the parties cannot come to an agreement, the parties must obtain new counsel who cannot be lawyers from the collaborative lawyers’ firms.
Under the statute, the collaborative process ceases if one party gives notice; either party files a document that initiates a court proceeding without first obtaining the permission of the other party; either party is subject to or obtains a TRO (temporary restraining order) or a final restraining order under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act; either party files a motion for emergent relief; a party fails to provide the information needed to resolve the dispute; or the collaborative lawyer withdraws from the process. Litigation remains an option if the collaborative divorce process fails to result in a divorce agreement.