Kathryn A. Gilbert Law Office
Litigate, Mediate or Collaborate? Find out what process is best for you and your spouse.


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Bergen County NJ Divorce Lawyer

If you are seeking the best legal support or advice regarding divorce or legal separation, you've come to the right place: Kathryn A. Gilbert is one of New Jersey's highest qualified attorney, mediator, and collaborative lawyer, with more than two decades of solid litigation and mediation experience and a dedication to her promise to explore and fully respect every aspect of your case with personalized attention and an aggressive representation plan.

When you need to choose from among a long list of family attorneys to help you address the tangled set of issues that divorce law and court involve, you need advice from an experienced attorney or mediator. No one really thinks about how to divorce when they enter into a legal separation and if you have exhausted your options for trying to save your marriage, you understand that the decision to separate can be painful and complicated.

Ms. Gilbert has made it a life career to provide caring, expert matrimonial advice to her clients, preparing settlement agreements; creating a roadmap for a prenuptial agreement, spousal support; child custody, alimony, and child support for a wide range of clients across Bergen County, NJ; Fort Lee, NJ 07024 and Paramus, NJ, O7652 and beyond.

Through her winning set of litigation and mediation strategies, coupled with an effective and personalized course of action, she can tailor her efforts to fit your financial and legal separation issues, regardless of whether you need representation through a simple mediation, a collaborative process, or an uncontested divorce. Her practice is designed to move your case from the initial consultation to conclusion in the most timely and cost-effective manner possible.

If you are contemplating divorce or simply need support in establishing a legal separation, allow Ms. Gilbert to help by providing you with the services and representation your case deserves, backed by the degree of solid legal experience and knowledge that only a trusted and caring attorney, mediator, or collaborative lawyer can offer.

The Process: Litigation, Mediation or Collaboration?

Fifty percent of all marriages fail, and that statistic rises to a staggering sixty-five percent for second marriages. The good news is that while your marriage may have failed, you can "succeed" at your divorce. This means that you can keep your costs down and reduce emotional trauma by properly selecting your process. Families, and especially children, suffer more from the process than the divorce itself.

In New Jersey, a spouse merely needs to allege that for a period of six months or more, irreconcilable differences arose that led to a breakdown in the marriage. When one party seeks a dissolution on this ground, the other party has no say in the fact that the marriage is ending. However, each party does have a say in all of the issues pertaining to the children and distribution of assets. While it may be hard to focus, it is essential that you do not let your emotions cloud your judgment at this crucial time. You need to select the best process to resolve your issues.

A divorce is essentially the disentangling of a "business" partnership with a heavy dose of emotion that often complicates the picture. Many times one party may not want the divorce, or the circumstances that led to it may have created an intensely bitter environment. Sometimes the fear of being alone or handling one's own finances can be overwhelming. Both parties must extricate themselves from the bitterness and focus on resolving the issues at hand. They must not look back at what they cannot change, but must look forward to addressing future goals and needs.

In New Jersey, couples have three very different options for resolving their differences: mediation, collaboration, or litigation. You must decide which one will most effectively get you where you need to be, since there is not a single option that is right for every divorcing couple.


Mediation is a voluntary process of self-determination, meaning that you and your spouse create your own settlement agreement with the aid of a mediator who acts as a facilitator of the negotiations. Your mediator will give you legal information, but not advice. A mediator will make sure all of the appropriate issues are addressed, but cannot declare the agreement fair to either party, as the mediator does not represent either party.

Generally (but not always) each party will also have his or her own lawyer to review the final document created through mediation, called the Memorandum of Understanding. This document will form the basis of a Property Settlement Agreement that is ultimately prepared by one of the parties' attorneys

The entire process is generally much less expensive and happens completely out of court. You will ultimately appear in court to finalize the matter at a quick hearing, but all of the issues will be resolved prior to the court appearance.

This process is a good option for couples who are amicable, knowledgeable about their joint assets, have a degree of trust in the other, and who prefer to keep their affairs private and save money. It prevents the Court from "dictating" terms that quite possibly neither you nor your spouse would be happy with. Both parties must consent to mediation.

Collaborative Divorce

New Jersey has just started to embrace a new and exciting process called collaborative divorce.

If you find yourself headed for dissolution or separation and would prefer to proceed in a non-adversarial manner while retaining your dignity, sanity and your money, then the collaborative process is for you.

In a collaborative divorce, the parties control the process, not the court. You can reach an agreement that is in accord with your family values, while preserving both parties' relationship with the children and even with each other. It gives you a long-lasting, mutually agreeable, and affordable resolution.

Unlike mediation, both spouses are represented and advised by attorneys who negotiate for each party. It is a less adversarial process than traditional litigation and is focused on compromising and addressing both parties' needs and concerns in an amicable, goal-oriented fashion.

All meetings are private and confidential. This differs from traditional litigation, where all documents are public records.

Collaborative law is generally less stressful and less expensive, and leads to a better, long-lasting relationship, which is especially desirable when children of the marriage guarantee future interactions with your spouse. Both parties must be on board with a level of trust and commitment to the process.


Sometimes when there is a lack of trust, imbalance of power, domestic violence, or an extremely high level of emotion, litigation might be the necessary option. Litigation is expensive and schedules are dictated by the court. With litigation, it usually takes longer to get divorced, and you are afforded no privacy in your proceedings. Unfortunately, it is the only option for some couples.

Litigation may be necessary where a reluctant spouse will not participate in negotiations without being compelled. If there are emergent issues that cannot otherwise be resolved, whether they regard children, support, or immediate and irreparable dissipation of assets, or if you believe that you are otherwise unable to work with your spouse toward the dissolution of your marriage, litigation might be your only option. When your spouse will not consent to participate in either mediation or collaboration, this is the only available alternative.

Each party will be represented by counsel who will seek to advance his own client's position, while the spouse's attorney will take a similar stance for his own client. This adversarial process, while often necessary, is the more expensive option. Furthermore, advancing a tough position for a client does not guarantee against an eventual level of compromise, or a less favorable decision from a judge than the party sought.

If an impasse arises in the course of negotiating, the parties have access to the court to resolve their disputes. Prior to trial, courts will only address emergent issues that cannot wait. Most issues, such as a final determination on custody and the division of assets and liabilities, must wait for a final decision by a trial judge. Only one percent of cases in New Jersey actually reach a final trial phase.

For the best result in any of these divorce processes, you must educate yourself on your family finances and be sure to also fully educate your attorney, since he or she can only be as effective as the tools they are provided.

Now that you know your three options, you should pick the process that best suits your style and goals.

55 State St
Hackensack , N.J. 07601
Tel: 201-487-0900
Fax: 201-488-0721

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Ka Gilbert Law is a Bergen County, New Jersey divorce attorney. Our main offerings include: collaborative divorce attorney services and divorce mediation services by an experienced divorce mediator in Fort Lee, Paramus and Bergen County, New Jersey.


We serve the following New Jersey locations:
Bergen County, Hudson County, Passaic County, Hackensack, Bergenfield, Cliffside Park, Dumont , Edgewater , Elmwood Park, Emerson, Englewood, Englewood Cliffs, Fair Lawn, Fairview, Fort Lee, Franklin Lakes, Garfield, Glen Rock, Harrington Park, Hasbrouck Heights, Ho-Ho-Kus, Leonia, Little Ferry, Lodi, Lyndhurst, Mahwah, Midland Park, Moonachie, New Milford, North Arlington, Northvale, Norwood, Oakland , Old Tappan, Oradell, Palisades Park, Paramus, Park Ridge, Ramsey, Ridgefield, Ridgefield Park, Ridgewood, River Edge, River Vale, Rochelle Park, Rockleigh, Rutherford, Saddle Brook, Saddle River, South Hackensack, Teaneck, Tenafly, Upper Saddle River, Waldwick, Wallington, Twp of Washington, Westwood, Woodcliff Lake, Wood Ridge, Wyckoff, Bogota, Carlstadt, Allendale, Closter, Cresskill, Demarest, Haworth, Hillsdale, East Rutherford, Montvale

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©2012 Kathryn A. Gilbert, Esq. All rights reserved. The information you obtain on this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.
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