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Collaborative family law bill aims to make divorce easier in Ohio

In recent years, Ohio family courts and family law attorneys have been encouraging divorcing couples in Columbus and throughout the state to consider mediation, arbitration and other methods of collaborative divorce. The benefits of using those methods are many. Allowing couples to negotiate and determine the terms of their divorce can result in a more unique settlement that is tailored toward the individual situation of the spouses and their family as a whole, in addition to being generally less expensive and much faster.

In a continuation of the shift toward collaborative divorce, the Ohio Senate unanimously passed the Collaborative Family Law Act early last month. The Ohio House adopted the bill a few days later, and it then went to the desk of Governor John Kasich, who was expected to sign it into law.

To be clear, the new law does not force divorcing couples to utilize methods of collaborative divorce. There are many situations in which mediation and arbitration simply do not work or are not appropriate, such as cases in which domestic abuse is alleged or which are especially complicated.

But under the law, couples that decide to take a collaborative approach to their case will sign an agreement in which they pledge to work together on a divorce settlement. Their family law attorneys will help them through the process, and will then be forbidden from representing their clients in court should the collaborative process ultimately fail.

It will be interesting to see how this new law affects the divorce and family law processes in Ohio in the coming months and years.

Source: The Plain Dealer, "Divorce cases could be easier in Ohio with new legislation," Kate Irby, Dec. 5, 2012

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