Over 95% of all divorce cases settle without having to go to trial. That is very good news. Trials can really take a toll on your family’s wealth, health, and happiness. For those couples that have to go to trial, having solid counsel is critical.
But what does a couple do who wants to avoid running up litigation costs? Some people think that “Collaborative Divorce” is the answer. Before engaging in that process, however, it is important to know what you really are getting yourself into.
Collaborative Divorce is defined as “a legal process enabling couples who have decided to separate or end their marriage to work with their lawyers and, on occasion, other family professionals in order to avoid the uncertain outcome of court and to achieve a settlement that best meets the specific needs of both parties and their children without the underlying threat of contested litigation.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collaborative_law
Sounds great, right? But here is something else you may want to consider: Collaborative Divorce also requires each spouse to sign a contract that promises that neither spouse will ever go to court, and that, if either spouse ever does break that promise and does go to court, then both spouses must fire their lawyers and start the divorce process all over again. In effect, by entering into the Collaborative process, you are giving complete power to your spouse to pick and/or fire your lawyer.
Suppose that wife has a lawyer that she really likes, really trusts, and really has confidence in. Now suppose that wife enters into the Collaborative Divorce process with her husband. The negotiations begin, and some progress starts to happen. Then suddenly, half way through, husband decides he is not happy with how things are going, and he decides he is going to court. Now wife must fire her lawyer – the very same lawyer that she knows, trusts, and likes – and there is nothing wife can do about it. That is one major pitfall in Collaborative Divorce.
Some people also worry that, by promising to never go to court (taking away the “hammer” or fear of “what a judge might do”), you could actually place yourself in a weaker bargaining position at the outset and let your spouse act up without fear of repercussions.
Collaborative Divorce does work for some people, and it is one tool among many in order to try to avoid litigation, but it is important to really understand what you are getting into before signing that contract. There are many other non-litigation tools that can help too, and they do not require couples to sign the same type of binding contract – mediation, arbitration, and face to face settlement conferences are just a few examples.
Contact Lyons & Associates Today to Speak to an Experienced New Jersey Divorce Litigation Lawyer
At Lyons & Associates, PC we work hard to help you settle your divorce as quickly and inexpensively as possible. We will discuss all tools at your disposal. And on the small chance that those measures fail, we will take your case to trial and fight for you and your family.
If you or someone you know has questions about divorce, or any other family law issue, then call one of the skilled New Jersey divorce lawyers at Lyons & Associates at 908-575-9777 for a consultation today. You can also fill out our online intake form.
Written By: Theresa A. Lyons