For any questions you may have, you can refer to this frequently asked questions page for help!
What is Collaborative Law?
Collaborative law is the legal process allowing couples who have decided to end their marriage or separate, avoid the uncertain outcomes of court. Within the process the parties agree to settle their case out of court thereby avoiding the costly and time-consuming battles that are inevitable when you litigate. It can be used for a broad range of family law issues such as divorce and pre-and post-marital agreements. Collaborative law allows both parties to resolve matters through negotiation with the guidance of professionals. Many choose to handle their family law matters through collaborative law because both parties have the ability to decide all issues concerning their family, and unlike mediation, they still have an advocate on their side during the collaborative divorce process. Whereas in court, the judge has control over the decisions being made, settling out of court allows you ultimate control, and no one knows your family, and their needs, better than you do. Additionally, financial professionals as well as experienced divorce coaches who are also collaboratively trained, are available to assist if need be.
What are the benefits of a Collaborative divorce? Is it effective?
Findings have shown that over 90% of collaborative divorces end with a positive resolution showing just how effective the collaborative process is. One of the main reasons couples choose a Collaborative approach is because it allows them to have more control over the process and outcome. It allows you and your spouse to work out an arrangement autonomously, but with the help and benefit of each having your own attorney advocate. The lack of formality leads to more creativity, allowing both parties to share their goals, thoughts, feelings, and concerns in a safe and private environment without technical and legal requirements. During the Collaborative process, both parties work to customize a solution that works for everyone, because no one knows your family as well as you do. This approach allows you and your spouse to develop a customized plan that works in the best interest of you and your family. Lastly, a Collaborative approach generally costs a lot less than litigation, is much less time-consuming, and overall leads to less stress, anxiety, and frustration for you and your family. It also tends to allow people to be better co-parents in the future.
Do I need an attorney for Collaborative law?
Yes. This is one major difference from mediation. The Collaborative Law process allows you to work with your spouse, with each person having their own attorney as the advocate for each of you, so you aren't sacrificing the expertise you need from an attorney. But the process allows you to reach an amicable resolution of your issues and craft an agreement that works for both you and your family while ensuring your goals are met. Having attorneys involved also means they can put your divorce through as uncontested and see it to the end.
Is Collaborative law more expensive?
No, a collaborative divorce generally costs a lot less than litigation, is less time-consuming, and overall leads to less stress, anxiety, and frustration for you and your family.
Should I choose a Collaborative divorce if children are involved?
Absolutely! Making decisions around child custody is often difficult for parents during the separation and divorce process. Many factors must be considered, from new living situations to a complete change in schedule, such as school drop off and pick up. It is an emotionally taxing process for many parents. Choosing a Collaborative divorce can help ease some of the stress when making those tough decisions because it allows you and your spouse to make decisions as a team putting your family’s best interests first. An experienced divorce coach is available to help you sort through any difficulties alongside your attorneys to ensure you have the outcome that works best for your family.
Can my spouse and I go back to the collaborative process to resolve issues or life changes in the future?
YES DEFINITELY! - Life happens and sometimes the unpredictable can cause you to need to revisit and rework the original agreement. No one has a crystal ball. Whether it be life changes or a party failing to abide by the agreement, couples can go back to the collaborative process to help resolve issues and make updates as needed. Using Collaborative law allows couples to create a plan and agreement that is best for them and their family without the involvement of the court.
What is divorce mediation?
Mediation is when both parties agree to use a neutral third party who is a trained mediator to help them negotiate a settlement out of court instead of going down the litigation path, which can be a costly and drawn-out process. Lisa Browning is a trained mediator whose goal is to promote positive communication and reach a solution focused on both parties' needs, rights, and interests. Mediation can help minimize conflict and allow both parties to be heard using specialized communication and negotiation techniques. More cost-effective and much less time-consuming, mediation is tailored to the couple's needs, which allows for flexibility, since you aren't subject to the court's schedule. Mediation allows spouses to control the outcome directly. Unlike a judge whose role is to decide on a resolution, a mediator's role is not to take sides or issue a verdict but instead act as a facilitator to help spouses identify issues, priorities, and potential solutions.
Do I need a lawyer present during Mediation?
No, a person going through mediation does not need their own lawyer but may choose to have one present, or be kept on the sidelines to be called before and after mediation sessions. Here are some reasons to consider having a lawyer by your side during the mediation process: A lawyer can help assist you with negotiation strategies, suggest solutions to help reach an ideal outcome, bring up topics or considerations you may not have thought of, and generally support you throughout the process. Finally, a lawyer can draft an agreement that is binding and enforceable. Some mediators do also draft marital settlement agreements for you if you choose not to hire a lawyer and Lisa Browning is one of them.
Do I really need a healthcare directive?
What is a Healthcare Directive, and why is it important? A healthcare directive allows you to express your preferences concerning medical treatment in an extreme medical situation. It helps you express your wishes, so your loved ones don't have to guess or assume what you want during what is likely to be a very difficult time.
Do I need a prenup?
No one plans for their marriage to fail, but with our help, you can lay out the terms for what a future divorce would entail so you won't have a protracted legal battle on your hands. Lisa Browning is here to help you create a highly personalized prenuptial agreement to protect your assets, interests, and future. Prenups are NOT just for second marriages. They allow couples to discuss all financial matters and consider how their financial situation might change over time. This can be especially helpful if you or your future spouse own a business. Prenups are a proactive way to create a successful partnership and set a solid financial framework for your future.
Do common law marriages exist in New Jersey?
Common law marriages DO NOT exist in New Jersey. Clients often assume that milestones such as having lived together for an extended period in time, joint bank accounts, having children together, or other milestones in a relationship may classify them to be considered a common-law marriage and therefore, entitle them to certain things such as alimony. In some states, this is the case. In New Jersey, that is not the case; the state does not recognize common-law marriage, meaning the separation is handled differently. However, you still have custody rights if you are a parent and may have assets or debts together that will need to be distributed.
Which spouse pays for legal fees?
The cost of divorce can be a major concern for some. The question always comes down to who pays for the legal fees in a divorce? In most cases, both parties pay the cost for their counsel. However, there are situations where circumstances require different arrangements. There are options for spouses when it comes to paying legal fees. For example, under NJ law, one party may be held liable for some of the costs of the legal process. The court may order one spouse who has more assets to pay for specific fees such as filing fees, copying and postage fees, use of experts, and other out-of-pocket expenses. Spouses may also be entitled to use martial funds to cover legal costs, such as an advance of retainer funds. In some cases, a court may order both parties to sell community property such as a home to help fund the divorce.