Michigan’s Uniform Collaborative Law Act Takes Effect
Michigan is the 10th state to enact a Uniform Collaborative Law Act. Collaborative law developed more than 20 years ago as an alternative form of dispute resolution and has been used in family law ever since to guide more amicable divorces.
Until now, there has been no uniform approach to collaborative law. Gov. Rick Snyder signed the Act into law on June 12, 2014, and it took effect in December.
Dedicated to approaching divorce from a “mediative” perspective and achieving the best outcomes for all involved, I am pleased with the enactment of the new Act.
While so many people file for divorce in January, they won’t all proceed in a collaborative way. I hope the new Act might inspire more divorcing couples to seek a more peaceful path of separation, though.
When a marriage ends, it doesn’t have to be World War 3. There are less onerous ways out of a relationship, if both parties have a goal of keeping it clean and kind.
What Is Collaborative Divorce?
The goal of collaborative law is to encourage parties to engage in problem solving, rather than resorting to adversarial techniques to find solutions to conflicts.
Collaborative law is a voluntary, contractually-based alternative dispute resolution process for parties who seek to negotiate a resolution of their situation rather than have a ruling imposed on them by a court or arbitrator.
Collaborative lawyers do not represent the party in court litigation; only during negotiations. The parties agree in advance that their lawyers are disqualified from representing them in the court proceeding if the collaborative process ends without agreement.
That means collaborative lawyers have a limited role in a divorce process, acting as advocates and counselors while divorcing partners negotiate the details of their divorce.
What Does the Act Do?
With the new Uniform Collaborative Law Act taking effect in Michigan, this means there are now established requirements and procedures for a collaborative law participation agreement. There are also requirements related to disclosure of information and privileged communications related to the collaborative law process.
The Act applies to every situation of family law, including the following: marriage, divorce, annulment, property distribution, child custody, visitation, parenting time, alimony, maintenance, child support, adoption, parentage, premarital, marital and postmarital agreements.
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