Legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi, R-Bergen and Passaic, helping families resolve divorces and other legal disputes without resorting to litigation, was approved by the General Assembly today. The bill, A-1477, is known as the “New Jersey Family Collaborative Law Act.” Similar legislation has already been signed into law in eight states and the District of Columbia.

“This helps reduce the backlog in family courts, saves taxpayers money and reduces costs for the families involved. It is a positive and proven alternative for family members to settle their differences in a non-confrontational way,” said Schepisi. “This is purely voluntary and parties do not give up any of their legal rights in this process. We should give families the tools that can help them work out their differences in good faith and avoid a prolonged settlement in the courts.”

The collaborative process is mostly utilized in family law, where the parties agree to settle their differences through negotiation. Each side can retain a lawyer of their choosing who assists in the process.

The success of the process is contingent on attorneys contractually limiting the scope of their representation to achieving resolution through the non-adversarial processes. Lawyers (and also their firms) enter into an agreement that if adversarial litigation ensues, both parties’ attorneys must withdraw from their representation