Throughout divorce proceedings there are several court mandated appearances whereby all parties and their counsel must be present. These include, but are not limited, case management conferences and putting through/finalizing the divorce on the record in the courtroom. All court appearances are costly to clients and in some instances, can be unproductive.
New Jersey is taking steps to move closer to a method of divorce fashioned in meeting rooms rather than courtrooms.
The proposed bill would allow divorcing spouses to hire legal counsel trained in collaborative practices to resolve their cases less litigiously and less expensively to the client. Clients would no longer be required to expel money to have their counsel appear in counties such as Monmouth, Ocean or Middlesex. Marriages could be dissolved without court intervention through a process similar to mediation.
However, the collaborative law process would end if one party gives notice for any reason, 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 temporary or final restraining order under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, either party files a motion for emergent relief, a party fails to provide information necessary to resolve the dispute or if the collaborative lawyer withdraws from the proceedings.