2A:23D-2  Findings, declarations relative to family collaborative law.

   2.   The Legislature finds and declares:

   a.   Since at least 2005, attorneys in New Jersey have participated in the dispute resolution method known as family collaborative law, in which an attorney is retained for the limited purpose of assisting his client in resolving family disputes in a voluntary, non-adversarial manner, without court intervention.

   b.   The family collaborative law process is distinct from other dispute resolution mechanisms because the parties intend to resolve their dispute without litigation. Instead, each party, represented by his attorney, meets together with the other party to the dispute, that party's attorney, and, as needed, one or more nonparty participants who are not attorneys but are professionals in their fields, such as certified financial planners, certified public accountants, licensed clinical social workers, psychologists, licensed professional counselors, licensed marriage and family therapists, and psychiatrists. All participants in the family collaborative law process understand and agree that the process is intended to replace litigation and that the process will terminate if either party or either attorney commences a proceeding related to the subject matter to be addressed through the family collaborative process before a court or other tribunal other than to seek incorporation of a settlement agreement into a final judgment.

   c.   In order to facilitate full and fair disclosure by the parties to the family collaborative law process, the parties must have an evidentiary privilege to protect them from disclosure of any collaborative law communication.  The nonparty participants in the family collaborative law process, who serve as neutral experts, need a privilege from disclosure of communications made by them during the process similar to the privilege created for mediators in the "Uniform Mediation Act," P.L.2004, c.157 (C.2A:23C-1 et seq.). This will enable nonparty participants to participate candidly in the process and thereby facilitate resolution of the family law dispute.

   L.2014, c.50, s.2.