NJ Collaborative Law Group


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GLOSSARY OF TERMS

Child Specialist is a licensed mental health professional with specific training in and experience with family systems and child development. Further, he or she has training and experience in working with parents and children who are in the midst of a divorce or other child custody or parenting issue. The child specialist helps parents and the Collaborative professionals involved to remain focused on the feelings and needs of any children involved in a collaborative legal matter.
The child specialist has four primary responsibilities:

  • To be the representative of the child or children’s feelings, needs, and interests.
  • To be the child or children's “voice, in the collaborative process.
  • To provide parents with information and guidance to help their children throughout their collaborative legal matter.
  • To provide information to the collaborative professionals that will assist in developing an effective co-parenting plan that prioritizes the needs of the children.

Sometimes the role of Coach and Child Specialist will be performed by the same mental health professional. Sometimes, these roles will be divided between two mental health professionals.


Collaborative Attorneys, or collaboratively trained lawyers, are highly skilled attorneys. They are fully licensed in the practice of law and can also represent clients in the traditional courtroom proceedings. In addition, the collaborative attorneys had training in both collaborative law and in mediation.


Collaborative Coach is a licensed mental health professional with specialized training in Collaborative Practice who assists each client and the Collaborative professionals to communicate effectively within the collaborative process.

The Coach does not act as a therapist. Rather, the coach uses his or her professional training and experience to assist you and the other professionals involved in your case to manage emotional and psychological issues with the goal of promoting a smooth and efficient collaborative process. The Coach also communicates with the other Collaborative professionals to provide insight and assistance in order to help facilitate discussions and negotiations.The Collaborative Coach performs these functions:

  • Identifies and prioritizes your interests and concerns.
  • Provides emotional support as you move through emotions such as loss, grief and anger which are often a feature of separation or other difficult family law issues.
  • Identifies and offers assistance in dealing with and managing strong emotions that might interfere with the collaborative process.
  • Uses his or her training to promote good communication throughout the collaborative process.
  • Helps you to develop and implement an effective parenting plan.
  • Helps you to learn and maintain skills for co-parenting.
  • Assists you and the Collaborative professionals to manage any roadblocks to the resolution of your divorce or family law matter.

Collaborative Law stemmed from an observation, in 1984, by Chief Justice Warren Burger of the U.S. Supreme Court that the court is not the most efficient or productive place to resolve disputes. According to Chief Justice Burger: “The entire legal profession … has become so mesmerized with the stimulation of the courtroom contest, that we tend to forget that we ought to be healers of conflict…. Our system has become too costly, too painful, too destructive, too inefficient for truly civilized people.”

In place of courtroom litigation and drama, collaborative law substitutes a spirit of mutual cooperation and respect that uses open communications and a holistic approach to divorce to achieve mutually benefical settlements. Settlements obtained by the collaborative divorce process are as legally binding and enforceable as those decreed by judges in a traditional courtroom proceeding. They are almost always less prolonged, less costly, and less stressful


Collaborative Participation Agreement is the first step in the collaborative divorce by which both spouses agree – in writing – to observe the collaborative law process … seek a non-courtroom resolution and settlement … and act with respect toward each other and in good faith. The legally binding agreement also stipulates how it can be dissolved, should either party behave in a manner contrary to the collaborative divorce concept and process.


The Collaborative Team includes the collaboratively trained , licensed and may also include specialists in other disciplines necessary to resolving unique issues affecting divorcing spouses. Mental health professionals can be called upon to server as divorce coaches. Also, , financial advisers, mortgage consultants, adjusters, business valuators, and vocational advisers will participate in the collaborative divorce process, as needed. This versatility is one of the hallmarks of the collaborative law process, which seeks to customize both the approach to resolution and the final settlement.


Divorce Coach is a fundamental member of the collaborative divorce team, helping to preserve the mental and emotional health of the divorcing couple. The coach will join, as needed, the spouses and their collaborative law attorneys in a series of five-way meetings preliminary to settlement.


Financial Specialist helps you gather, understand, organize and value your financial data, identify and clarify financial goals and interests and comprehend short and long term implications of settlement options.

The financial specialist will be a certified financial planning practitioner, chartered financial consultant, certified divorce planner or certified public accountant, and will have met additional training requirements to qualify him or her to handle the unique financial challenges presented in divorce and family law cases.
The financial specialist assists you by:

  • Facilitating safe, honest and informed financial communication
  • Providing an unbiased assessment of your finances through acting in a neutral role
  • Utilizing charts and graphs to help you and your attorneys understand the estimated tax and financial results of settlement ideas concerning support and asset division
  • Working with the Collaborative Team to stay on track with financial topics and maintain open communication around finances
  • Helping you to construct and gather budget and net worth data to promote conversation and settlement.

Other Team Members. In addition to attorneys, family relations, child and financial specialists, you may choose to retain other experts or consultants such as appraisers, mortgage brokers or vocational experts. Unlike traditional litigated cases, where the parties hire competing experts to "fight it out," both parties in the collaborative process jointly retain the experts they need and consider the options the experts present.


Separation Agreement: This may also be referred to as a Property Settlement Agreement or a Marital Settlement Agreement. This Agreement resolves all the issues in the divorce such as custody, parenting time, equitable distribution, spousal support, child support and the payment of college expenses. There is also a provision that should there be an issues the parties cannot resolve on their own, they will seek out a resolution through their collaborative attorney or other team member before resorting to Court intervention.


Spousal Support refers to a legally binding agreement specifying the financial contribution one spouse makes another as part of the final divorce settlement. Spousal support may take the form of a one-time payment or installments. In a collaborative divorce, the amount of the payment and its terms of distribution are decided by the divorcing parties in consultation with various members of the collaborative team.


Vocational Advisers assist a divorcing spouse in determining how best to make or improve his or her livelihood as he or she establishes a one-income household after divorce.

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