Divorce is a difficult process.  Many times the parties’ emotions, whether they be anger, hurt, fear, insecurity or a myriad of others, get in the way of reaching resolution through agreement.

The longer a divorce takes, the more money the parties will spend on attorney’s fees, and the more entrenched in their positions they become; many times finding even more issues to argue over.  This, of course, is not good for the parties’ mental, physical or financial health, nor is it good for the children.

In a collaborative divorce, the parties agree from the very beginning of the process to focus their efforts on civilly reaching an agreement on all issues including custody, parenting time, support, and division of assets without litigating the issues.  They do this by each hiring a collaboratively trained lawyer and signing an agreement, up front that commits both parties to reaching a settlement.

The attorneys sign the agreement as well which requires them to withdraw as counsel if an agreement cannot be reached. 

Since an agreement is reached in approximately 98% of all divorce cases (and only about 2% go to trial), it would benefit most divorcing couples to start out with the goal of reaching an agreement in the least stressful and most productive way possible.

In order for any case to be resolved, whether litigating or settling, both parties and their attorneys have to have full information concerning income, assets and debts.  The collaborative process compels both parties to voluntarily disclose all relevant financial information through an informal exchange.

The information requested can be streamlined to only information that is relevant, thereby eliminating dozens of hours of responding to formal discovery requests which may be irrelevant.  The information requested is then located (whether by the parties together, individually, or with the help of their attorneys) and then shared.  At four-way conferences, which are held as often as necessary to review documents, discuss issues and attempt to reach agreement on those issues, the parties can have open and productive discussions.

My next blog will contain a quiz to help you determine whether you are a good candidate for the collaborative divorce process.


Maria Imbalzano is the Co-Chair of Stark & Stark’s Divorce Group in the Lawrenceville, New Jersey office. For questions, please contact Ms. Imbalzano.