When we think of divorce, it often brings to mind emotionally charged and sometimes traumatic proceedings in which a couple faces off while the children are caught in the middle. The truth is, divorce often manifests the long-simmering domestic problems that existed during the marriage, exposed in full view during a litigated divorce proceeding.

The idea behind collaborative law is finding solutions that go beyond adversarial proceedings, allowing the parties as well as the rest of the family to resolve problems rather than simply determining property division and custody settlements. There are core issues that can be addressed to help families find peace after they split. In short, it is a friendlier approach that preserves relationships.

The Uniform Collaborative Law Act

Because of the trend over the past 25 years among a growing body of family law professionals that litigation is often not the best solution in a divorce, numerous states have enacted laws recognizing the importance of collaborative law. As the patchwork of statutes and court rules grew and participation agreements began to cross states lines, the Uniform Law Commission proposed the Uniform Collaborative Law Act in July 2009.

Most states have since legislated versions of this act. Michigan introduced its own version of this Act as MCL 691.1331, effective December 2014. The key features of this law are:

  • Attorneys are required to provide all options to their clients in a divorce, including arbitration and litigation, and screening for domestic violence before beginning a collaborative practice
  • Full, fair and voluntary disclosure of all relevant information as minimum standards for any participation agreement
  • Stay-of-court after the filing of a complaint in cases that have begun collaborative practice
  • Privilege between parties and their counsel

The growth of Alternative Dispute Resolution

Judges have increasingly encouraged alternative options to litigation, and the creation of MCL 691.1331 has provided a legal framework that frees up the courts and reduces costs to all parties. The growth of ADR methods, in particular mediation and arbitration, in the area of divorce makes these alternatives worthy of a second look.

Finding respected and experienced divorce attorneys in Oakland County whose teamwork is ideally suited to ADR settlements may be the right place to go to find a peaceful solution during divorce.