While divorce is never easy – and arguably, shouldn’t be a cakewalk that couples look forward to (“Honey, instead of
The legislation, entitled the Collaborative Family Law Act, was unanimously passed by the Ohio Senate, and sailed through the House last week by a vote of 87-2. It now sits near the top of Ohio Governor John Kasich’s to-do list.
When (it’s really not a question of “if” anymore) the bill is passed, spouses in Ohio be streamed into voluntary divorce settlement conferences, which would also be attended by their respective family lawyers, accountants, mental health professionals, and anyone else on their professional divorce team. If a settlement couldn’t be hammered out, then spouses would head towards trial –- a route that most
While unofficial conferences between divorcing spouses alongside members of their professional divorce teams aren’t necessarily new, this legislation formalizes the collaborative process by making it a legal requirement. After filing for divorce, spouses would sign-off on a mutual pledge to try and work together on reaching a settlement, and their family lawyers and other divorce professionals would commit to trying to find workable common ground.
"Essentially what this [legislation] does is allow a voluntary procedure, so that families going through difficult times can work together instead of involving courts unnecessarily," commented Sen. Larry Obhof (R) in an interview with Ohio newspaper The Plain Dealer.
Notably, the bill also prevents Ohio family lawyers who participate in the proposed collaborative conferences from representing either party if they drop out of the process. While experts admit that this provision will very rarely need to be invoked, they concede that its necessary to protect spouses who reveal confidential -- and potentially self-incriminating -- information.
Divorce Magazine will follow this story and post an update when the bill is signed into law.
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