In December 2012, Ohio Governor Kasich signed new legislation into Ohio law that provides statutory rules for collaborative family law. The Senate unanimously passed the law, known as the Collaborative Family Law Act, and the House passed the bill with a vote of 87-2. The Act was passed with the intent to make divorce proceedings less time-consuming and expensive and easier for couples and children.
The Collaborative Divorce Process Under Ohio Law
Collaborative family law is a procedure designed to resolve a matter without the court. Under the process, the parties sign a collaborative family law participation agreement and are represented by collaborative family lawyers. Under the Act, the process begins with the signing of a collaborative family law participation agreement that sets forth the formal requirements of participation. The agreement describes the nature and scope of the matter and includes a statement that the parties intend to resolve the matter through the collaborative process.
The process will either end with a signed negotiated resolution or the process will terminate prematurely for several reasons, including providing notice by one party to end the process, requesting that the proceeding be put on the court’s docket. The process may also terminate if a lawyer withdraws from representation.
Importantly, the Act provides that lawyers used in collaborative meetings “may not appear before a court to represent a party in a proceeding related to the collaborative family law matter.” This is intended to encourage the parties to work toward a settlement and keep information disclosed in the collaborative process confidential.
Benefits of Collaborative Family Law
Ohio Senator Larry Obhof characterized the new law as a “voluntary procedure, so that families going through difficult times can work together instead of involving courts unnecessarily.” The new law is intended to provide several benefits for families going through a divorce proceeding. First, the collaborative divorce process is intended to be less expensive by not involving the courts. A court divorce proceeding can be a lengthy, drawn out process that can unnecessarily add time and costs. This is especially true when a divorce proceeding is particularly contentious between the parties.
Second, and related to reducing expenses, the collaborative process is intended to resolve a divorce proceeding in a timelier, more efficient manner. While a divorce proceeding before the court typically lasts longer than a year, a collaborative divorce proceeding can be resolved within months and with only a few sessions. And third, the collaborative divorce process places less stress on the couple and children by allowing a difficult situation to be resolved timely and amicably.
Contact a Cleveland Divorce Attorney
If you have any questions about the collaborative divorce process in Ohio, a Cleveland divorce attorney can help you understand this process and your options. The Cleveland divorce attorneys at Laubacher & Co. have extensive experience representing couples in all types of marriage disputes, including legal separation, dissolution, and formal divorce proceedings. Contact one of our experienced Cleveland divorce attorneys today for a free consultation.
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