As many Texas residents are likely aware, family matters are often a highly contested area of law. To make matters worse, the variation in laws from state to state can make divorce a difficult exercise for separating couples. To address this issue, many people who want an amicable separation choose a collaborative divorce, which addresses legal issues such as separation, child custody and child and spousal support, among other issues.
To support this practice, the Uniform Law Commission drafted the Uniform Collaborative Law Rules/Act, or the UCLR/A, in 2009. This law was amended in 2010. Texas has adopted this law and standardized its features.
With an increase in the use of collaborative law, many jurisdictions have come to utilize it. The essence of collaborative law is that it provides attorneys with a feasible, non-adversarial solution. It is more or less like negotiation, in which problem-solving is promoted as opposed to litigation.
Collaborative law is more or less a voluntary process in which the client and his or her attorney agree that both will work together for a feasible solution to the problem. If the problem is not resolved, the client may hire another attorney. Both the parties are free to end the process at any time. The advantages and cost benefits of this practice is clear to both parties. The main objective is to promote an open discussion or forum, which otherwise may not be possible.
In 2010, certain amendments were made to the uniform collaborative laws; states can apply the uniform collaborative laws only to family law matters. According to the amendments, the courts will be able to stay ongoing proceedings when two parties voluntarily enter into the collaborative law process in order to resolve their legal matters.
There are clearly advantages for states to adopt collaborative law practice as a process for resolving interstate disputes. The party’s intention to resolve disputes should take the form of a written request. A fundamental feature of collaborative law is the disqualification requirement, which encourages attorneys to take up cases with clients who do not earn high wages.
Source: The National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, Uniform Law Commission, “Collaborative Law Act Summary,” accessed on Oct. 28, 2014