Reasons to Choose Collaborative Divorce

Stuart Webb is considered the father of collaborative divorce, an approach he introduced in 1990 and would later write about in “The Collaborative Way to Divorce.” According to many divorce lawyers, it is now a preferred method, and one that divorcing couples are choosing at a higher rate than ever before. Collaborative divorce is quicker and more affordable, and it gives a couple much greater control.

What Is a Collaborative Divorce?

The collaborative law process is a form of voluntary dispute resolution, and it is not limited to divorce but used in business and other types of disputes as well. Collaborative divorce is often framed as a relatively new approach despite being introduced more than 30 years ago. Area divorce lawyers tell us that there are a number of reasons for this, including state laws finally catching up with the concept and social change that has helped people be more open to the idea.

Through the collaborative approach, both parties commit to achieving a settlement that is mutually beneficial and legally binding. This model is often confused with divorce mediation. While mediation can be collaborative in nature, they are not the same thing. With collaborative divorce, there is no third party guiding the sessions but rather a team of lawyers and other professionals working together with the couple to achieve their goals for the divorce.

Time Commitment

Family lawyers also encourage the collaborative law process for divorces due to the time involved. The average divorce in New Jersey takes 12 months. That average increases to between 18 and 24 months for cases that require litigation. Collaborative divorces, on the other hand, take between three and six months, and simple divorces can be finalized even more quickly. The commitment of your individual time is also much less. Many collaborative divorces only require several meetings that might take an hour or so, and it has become much more common to make use of video conferencing in order to save even more time.

Open Communication

Family law attorneys warn that one of the core challenges presented in a contested divorce is that there is not full transparency. You often have to make decisions without all of the information. When people agree to voluntary dispute resolution, they are signing up for honest and open communication and full and open disclosure. Consider that the process involves you and your spouse working alongside a team of experts to negotiate, compromise, and come to agreements. There is no room for secrets and deception, and even if your spouse was inclined to such behavior, the fundamental nature of the collaborative process would make it difficult to hide and obfuscate important information.


Many people also find collaborative divorce a compelling option because of control. No other approach to divorce allows you and your spouse to retain this level of control. You do have to prepare and file certain documentation in accordance with state law, which your divorce attorneys can handle for you, but you are otherwise free to choose how the divorce proceeds. In other words, there are no formalities that you must adhere to. In fact, your first meeting will focus on you and your spouse coming to an agreement on how the process will unfold. If there are certain aspects of your divorce that you are already in agreement about, then you do not even need to worry about those items moving forward.


Divorce can be difficult on the couple’s children, and modern research and statistics show that the impact is even greater than society once suspected. These children often perform worse in school and deal with a wide range of emotional and social issues that can affect them even into adulthood. The other advantage is full control over the co-parenting plan. This can include high-level agreements, such as child custody and child support, but also more granular aspects of a parenting agreement, including bedtimes, schooling, heath care, religion, and social activities. Family lawyers agree that this method also makes it much easier to achieve bird’s nest custody and other innovative approaches to co-parenting that are becoming more common.

Mental Health

Divorce is stressful. The Life Change Index Scale puts divorce at number two and marital separation as number three behind only death of a spouse as the most stressful periods in a person’s life. Much of that stress originates with fear of the unknown, but there is much less of that to worry about because you are working in cooperation with your spouse, have control over the proceedings, and enjoy the peace of mind that your children are protected. Also, mental health is a focal point of the collaborative divorce process, and you can even participate in various forms of counseling with a therapist, including divorce counseling, family counseling, co-parenting counseling, and individual counseling.

Mutually Beneficial Agreement

New Jersey is an equitable distribution state. That means that the court will divide marital assets and debts in a manner that is fair but not necessarily equal. What a judge deems fair, however, may not seem fair to you and your spouse. Consider a common problem in which a couple wants to maintain the family home but is not sure how to do that. A judge may decide that the home is to be sold and the proceedings from the sale then be split between the spouses. With collaborative divorce, you can work with financial specialists, mortgage brokers, real estate agents, and other experts to find a solution that you are both happy with.


Collaborative divorce is both private and confidential. Everything that is said and all that is exposed during the process is limited to the people involved, and there may even be confidentiality agreements. This is also true of mediation and generally of arbitration. It is not, however, the case with litigation. While some information can be sealed, much of it becomes public record, and you may also have people just sitting in the gallery as your dirty laundry is aired.

Collaborative Divorce in New Jersey

At Lawrence Law, our family law attorneys have handled many collaborative divorce cases. We build our teams based on the unique needs of each couple, and yours can include divorce coaches, family counselors, financial specialists, and vocational experts. If you would like to arrange a collaborative divorce consultation, call us at 908-645-1000 or contact us online.

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