This is the sunset view on top of the Sofitel hotel in Broadbeach,Australia to kick off the welcome to the IACP Australian Institute event this past April! There were 120 participants learning and exchanging ideas, concepts, and theories about collaborative process and collaborative divorce. IACP members from Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, England, Scotland, Canada, and The United States gathered for some in depth all day programming that aimed at honing and expanding their collaborative skills. I took a course on the Challenge of Teams and a course entitled the Psychology of Conflict. Both were enriching and intellectually stimulating as we exchanged ideas and experienced a deeper understanding of how the collaborative process is experienced throughout the world. I really appreciate the depth and the intimacy that the Institute learning has to offer, which is different than the Forum, but equally inspiring. For those interested in taking their collaborative divorce skills to the next level, I highly recommend attending the next Institute.
Shireen Meistrich, LCSW
The New Jersey Council of Collaborative Practice Groups held its annual state dinner on March 18, 2015, at Maggianno’s in Bridgewater, NJ with Ross Evans, esq as the featured speaker. Ross was a former president of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals [IACP] and has practiced collaborative law for many years,in Cincinnati, Ohio. His topic was “Public Education: Building Awareness in Your Professional Communities”.
Attendees included collaboratively trained attorneys, mental health and financial professionals. The Collaborative Divorce Association of North Jersey was well represented and members were enthusiastic about Ross’ guidance in helping other professionals and the public discover the benefits of collaborative divorce. Ross emphasized the importance of informing and educating the clergy who are close to those going through divorce and in distress. Collaborative professionals can ease the stress of couples who are divorcing, and their families, as well as mental health professionals and the clergy who are also there to help.
Joe Noto, esq
On Sunday, February 8, 2015, members of the Collaborative Divorce Association of North Jersey convened for their Annual Retreat at the Bergen County Bar Association in Hackensack. Featured was Victoria Smith, esteemed collaborative attorney, author and lecturer from Toronto, Canada, with over thirty years of experience.
The topic of Victoria’s day-long presentation was “Exploring Collaborative Advocacy”. The program focused on how the role of advocacy, in the Collaborative process, differs from advocacy in the tradition litigation model. Members of the Collaborative Divorce Association of North Jersey who participated gained a better understanding of how the role of the advocate is redefined when applied to a Collaborative Divorce context.
Attendees also received training about the spectrum of advocacy in the Collaborative process, ranging from Facilitative Advocacy to Partisan Advocacy. Other skills honed at the Retreat included screening techniques for clients in the Collaborative process: working with a variety of clients who could be considered accommodating, bullying or those with unrealistic expectations. The feedback received from attendees was overwhelmingly positive.
A day-long upcoming training, which the Collaborative Divorce Association of North Jersey is co-sponsoring, with the New York Association of Collaborative Professionals, is entitled “Conflict Transformation”. The program, on February 26, 2015, in White Plains, New York, features a former President of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals, Nancy Cameron. Nancy is an internationally acclaimed Collaborative law expert, lecturer and author who will be speaking about conflict resolution strategies which practitioners can apply to all types of family law disputes.
Larry Esposito, Esq.
Members of the Collaborative Divorce Association of North Jersey mourn the loss of a valued colleague, Lorraine Breitman, who passed away November 1, 2014. Although she had only practiced collaborative law for the past several years, her colleagues knew she would be a wonderful ‘fit’ for the collaborative process. Lorraine was a family attorney for more than 25 years and was dedicated to helping make the divorce experience more respectful for couples and their children. She was a devoted wife and loving mother who cherished her 10-year-old twins. Lorraine was an energetic presence who filled a room with sunshine with her grace, humor and positive attitude. If she saw a problem, she not only addressed it but offered possible solutions. Our colleagues consider themselves fortunate to have known and worked with her. She will be sorely missed and long remembered.
New Jersey has a reputation for being progressive in the development of statutory and case law with respect of family, divorce and custody matters. On September 19, 2014, New Jersey became the ninth state to enact a Collaborative Family Law Act.(NJCFLA). Passage of the NJCFLA reinforces general awareness that there are improved methods to resolve disputes rather than escalating acrimony via litigation, which can be financially and emotionally detrimental. The NJCFLA sets standards and unifies the concept of Collaborative Law already practiced in our state. Litigators who are interested in clients’ best interests recommend and attempt to utilize alternate dispute resolution techniques, when applicable to clients’ situations. New Jersey had already joined the national and international movement of Collaborative Law, which has been practiced in our state for years. The Collaborative Law method exists in 42 states and D.C. as well as 24 countries.
Courts and attorneys have employed various alternate dispute resolution techniques for years, beginning with the concept of negotiating and settling issues with an agreement reached between the parties, with the help and guidance of their attorneys. To assist in such an undertaking, the Early Settlement Panel [consisting of experienced volunteer attorneys) was developed and implemented in all counties. Eventually, counties offered complementary custody mediation. Then, mandatory economic mediation was introduced and these procedures were implemented within the framework of the litigation process. Most parties in litigation realize, at some point, that alternate dispute resolution [ADR] is superior to proceeding to a costly and emotionally draining trial. ADR techniques have evolved in many cultures and in the court systems; the collaborative divorce method operates completely outside of the litigation system until the final resolutions of issues results in an uncontested divorce.
Mediation can be pursued prior to or independent of litigation. However, not all couples are able to participate in mediation without ongoing assistance. It’s best for each party to have an attorney for legal advice. In Collaborative divorce, each party has an attorney, trained in mediation, trained in mediation as well who supports each client in positive manner that benefits both parties and their children.
For those considering divorce, it is important to know that members of the Collaborative Divorce Association of North Jersey have been training for years in the collaborative method and are committed to its principles toward moderating the destructive aspects of divorce and creating a more constructive experience for divorcing couples and their families. Our collaborative divorce professionals have access to experts, as needed, who tailor the process to a couple’s, or family’s, specific situation and needs such as custody determinations, tax issues, evaluation tasks and legal issues.
Sharon Clancy, Esquire
On July 9, 2014, the Collaborative Divorce Association of North Jersey was honored to have one of its members and past board member, Hubert Klein, CPA/ABV/CFF, CVA, CFE, give his presentation, “Guiding Clients: Financial Aspects of Divorce.” His presentation included collaborative divorce, mediation and litigation. Hubert offered a detailed review of the process of filing the complain, the response and management aspects of the divorce process. During a marriage couples accumulate a lot of financial personal date. An informative handout provided a detailed list of what each spouse should obtain to get a total picture of the marital estate.
Suggestions were offered on how a financial expert helps the parties sift through the maze of information. He clarified the actual role of the financial expert. Major areas in which the financial expert can assist are:
* Gather documents
* Prepare a current budget
* Prepare a personal balance sheet
* Help the client plan and understand current and future
* Understand the after-tax value of assets available for
* Help client understand the tax implications of various
transfers and its implication on liquidity
* After the divorce, many things need to be taken care of,
such as retitling of assets, facilitate the transfer of IRA’s,
review and update Wills and beneficiaries
A second handout “Seven Financial Mistakes” was offered.
Collaborative members appreciated this excellent educational opportunity .
Walter Loeffer, CPA/ABV, CFF, CVA
The Collaborative Divorce Association is extremely proud to announce that one of its own, our immediate past President and current Treasurer and Board member, Shireen B. Meistrich, LCSW, has bee selected President Elect of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (IACP). Shireen currently serves as Secretary of the IACP and will assume the Presidency in 2015/2016. When Shireen assumes the Presidency of the IACP, she will be the first full-time non-attorney President of the organization.
Shireen’s selfless contributions and commitment to the Collaborative movement, internationally and particularly in New Jersey with the Collaborative Divorce Association of North Jersey and as a founding Board member of the New Jersey Council of Collaborative Practice Groups, are unsurpassed. Shireen serves as a divorce coach and child specialist and is deeply committed to helping families resolve their conflicts with dignity and respect and to maintain a healthy connection after the divorce. LARRY J. ESPOSITO, ESQ.