Can Californians end a marriage in ways other than litigation?
Many people in California think that divorce requires “litigation,” meaning in common parlance that their attorneys argue in court over the details of the couple’s positions in front of a judge who makes a final ruling. Historically, litigation has been used in most divorces, but as increasing numbers of attorneys and legal observers have noted, it has certain disadvantages. It can be emotionally difficult for the divorcing couple and their children, expensive and can lead to conflict will that can last for years. Fortunately, another option called “collaborative law” is available for couples who want to save themselves the emotional and financial challenges of litigation.
How long has the collaborative law approach been around? First used in the late 1980s and early 1990s, this form of alternative dispute resolution has compiled a strong record of marriages ending peacefully and without undue legal costs. A national nonpartisan organization called the Uniform Law Commission continues to help states enact standards for collaborative law and how it resolves family law issues. The approach has been so successful that it has been adopted in many other countries, including Canada, Australia and several countries in Europe.
How widely used is collaborative law? In the United States, the model Uniform Collaborative Law Act has been adopted by several state legislatures. It provides a detailed overview of how dispute resolution can benefit families and communities, how the process works and why the UCLA should be adopted by all states.
The act explains that collaborative law is a method that allows parties to reach negotiated resolutions rather than litigation. The collaborative approach lets parties make decisions themselves rather than leave them to judges or arbitrators. The collaborative law process is similar to divorce mediation, but the parties are represented by lawyers trained in collaborative law to help their clients identify the issues that both parties need to resolve.
Source: Uniformlaws.org, “Uniform Collaborative Law Rules,” Oct. 12, 2010