“Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. As a peacemaker the lawyer has superior opportunity of being a good man.”
Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of United States (1809 – 1865)
A Pioneer in Collaborative Divorce
Denise Wennogle is the founder of her Morristown, NJ law firm, Wennogle Law LLC, specializing in Collaborative Divorce, Family Law, and Mediation. As a regional and national leader and spokeswoman for this less common approach to marital separation, she is committed to cultivating a unique brand of client care, deeply empathetic to the heartache, pain, and, yes, ultimate relief a divorce entails. For Denise, litigation is an option of last resort.
Not War of the Roses
As the “death of a marriage” draws near, it is imperative that wives and husbands alike understand what Collaborative Divorce is and what it isn’t. Awareness begins with a simple recognition that divorce does not have to be the exaggerated stereotype depicted in the well-received Danny DeVito-directed film.
Instead, Denise’s goal is to demonstrate to all parties involved that a “civilized divorce” is not “a contradiction in terms,” as DeVito’s character, Gavin D’Amato, laments. Nor is it only degrees of loss. As its name implies, Collaborative Divorce is about bringing together a team of professionals, if necessary – lawyers, mental health experts, financial advisors, and other experts – in a non-adversarial/non-confrontational manner. The goal is to help an unhappy couple do what is in the best emotional and economic interests for their lives and, more importantly, the lives of their children. In fact, in a Collaborative Divorce, by signing what is known as a “participation agreement,” the divorcing parties cannot go to court unless there is a legal settlement or they both hire new lawyers.
Mastering A Different Kind of Healing
From the time she was a teenager, knowing the pain firsthand of what it means to come from a divorced home, Denise has always been drawn to the healing professions. At first, this passion took the form of a more traditional route as she pursued a highly successful career as a medical practice manager at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center. In the late 1980s, Denise worked at The Valley Hospital, an acute-care, not-for-profit hospital in Ridgewood, New Jersey, where she managed an office for cardiac surgery for about ten years.
Later, while working at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Manhattan, despite being the practice manager for seven divisions of the hospital’s department of medicine, Denise began to feel constrained by her role in middle management. In short, she knew her talents and abilities could help people in different – and more direct – ways.
It was then, at age 42, that she decided law school was the best way to become a healer of a different sort.
During her last semester at Seton Hall University School of Law, Denise first gained insight into the power and importance of family law through her work at the Family Law Clinic. In fact, at her graduation in 2006, she was awarded the Center for Social Justice, Family Law Clinic Outstanding Clinical Practitioner Award. She soon after discovered the unique value of a new process for getting couples divorced called “Collaborative Divorce.”
After completing her judicial clerkship with The Honorable William J. McGovern, III in the Superior Court, Family Part, Sussex County, New Jersey, Denise joined Scott & Daly, LLC as an Associate. She later practiced family law with Candace Scott, Esq. until opening Wennogle Law, LLC in 2012.
Awards, Accolades, and Accomplishments
Today, the accomplished attorney, wife, and mom has become not only an advocate for her clients, but for Collaborative Divorce at large. She is an active member of numerous boards and organizations.
Some of the most prominent include:
- NJ Chapter of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, Current President
- NJ Collaborative Law Group, Past President & Current Board Member
- Justice Marie L. Garibaldi American Inn of Court for Alternative Dispute Resolution, Secretary
- NJ Association of Professional Mediators
- New Jersey State Bar Association
- Morris County Bar Association
- Sussex County Bar Association
- Battered Women’s Legal Advocacy Project
- Barry I. Croland Family Law American Inn of Court
- Worrall F. Mountain Civil American Inn of Court
- Rotary Club of Morristown, New Jersey
Hugs All Around
Denise prides herself on representing both men and women equally. Her practice is completely dedicated to Family Law. Regardless of who her client is and in what capacity she serves, her essential skills center on being delicate and caring, being an exceptional listener, and above all, understanding how each person feels. By taking the time to really listen to what a client has to say, the exact words they choose, and the nuance behind them, allows her to be a lot more creative when it comes to drafting equitable solutions both parties can agree upon – solutions that are often restricted by the conventional litigation process.
One of Denise’s favorite anecdotes was when she was wrapping up a Collaborative divorce and both parties and their attorneys were required at the courthouse. Denise’s client was the husband. When the court proceeding concluded, both ex-husband and ex-wife gave her a big hug after it was all over. That is not something you see in traditional law every day. Or in traditional courtrooms.
For Denise, the focus is on helping her clients overcome the hurt emotions and enabling the one-unit family transition into a two-unit family with healthy and strong foundations for their new lives.