Many people delay the decision to divorce because they fear the animosity and conflict that often accompany a contentious litigated divorce. The collaborative approach to divorce represents the opposite approach to divorce. The collaborative model involves a problem-solving orientation where parties work together with their attorneys and appropriate experts. This approach to divorce can mitigate the cost of divorce and unnecessary conflict. In this article, we answer two common questions about collaborative divorce in Ohio.
Does Ohio recognize the collaborative law process?
While the collaborative law approach to divorce began to emerge in the 1980s, Ohio’s Collaborative Family Law Process Act did not become effective until March 20, 2013. This statute provides protections for the parties and mandatory procedures associated with the collaborative family law process. These requirements include features like the execution of a collaborative participation agreement and representation by collaborative family attorneys. If either spouse makes a request, full and candid informal disclosure must be provided promptly without the need for formal discovery procedures. Both parties and their attorneys must commit to resolving all of their divorce issues without threatening or pursuing litigation. If the parties fail to settle all of their issues, the parties can proceed to litigation, but they will have to retain new attorneys.
What are the benefits of the collaborative law process in Ohio?
Although the collaborative divorce process does not constitute the right option for every situation, the parties can experience significant benefits where appropriate. Some of the most significant advantages include:
Efficiency of Divorce: While the typical divorce will eventually settle, tens of thousands of dollars might be spent on preparing for and conducting litigation before reaching a settlement. If a divorce follows the path of litigation, the parties might need to take depositions, participate in court hearings, propound and respond to discovery requests, undertake opposition research, and prepare for trial. Since the attorneys involved in a collaborative divorce cannot engage in contested court proceedings, all of their efforts, time, and resources are devoted to facilitating a settlement of all divorce issues.
Protection of Privacy: Divorce proceedings often involve the disclosure of unflattering allegations and private financial matters. Because a litigated divorce must be conducted in open court, the proceedings are a matter of public record. Along with disclosure of personal or unflattering information, the parties’ finances can be exposed to the eyes of tax authorities, business competitors, and others. The collaborative process involves confidential and privileged communications during meetings in a private conference room.
Innovative Solutions: While judges in family law cases have broad discretion on many issues, they frequently must decide certain matters within specified parameters. When parties participate in the collaborative divorce process, they have much more freedom to adopt creative solutions that do not run afoul of Ohio law or public policy. For example, a divorcing couple can agree to a “custody” schedule for the family dog or grant visitation to grandparents, but these types of orders might be difficult to obtain from a judge.
Business Negotiation Approach: Within the collaborative law model, spouses, their attorneys, and participating experts work in a constructive way to reach win-win solutions. The cooperative spirit of collaborative divorce promotes amicable interaction and tends to limit animosity that can be negative for both parents and their children. Even after the divorce judgment, the parties often have developed the ability to communicate effectively and co-parent in a positive way. This approach also addresses more than the legal issues in a divorce because a mental health and financial professional often will be involved in the process. If the divorcing parties are parents, an expert in child custody and child development issues also might be involved in the settlement discussions.
Our Columbus divorce attorney at Dawes Legal, LLC represent clients in uncontested divorces, collaborative divorces, and high-conflict contested divorces. We take a solution-oriented approach to mitigate the anxiety and cost of the divorce process. We invite you to call us today 614-733-9999.