In keeping with other States, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, by the stroke of Governor Tom Wolf’s pen, signed into law the Pennsylvania Collaborative Law Act, on June 28, 2018. This action by the Governor served to recognize the validity of this alternative divorce process.
Collaborative Law is an alternative to both a Mediation process and the traditional, litigated divorce. In Collaborative Law, the parties to a divorce each select their own Collaboratively trained attorney. Not every attorney can practice in this style of divorce practice.
In the Collaborative process, in addition to selecting specially trained lawyers, there are collaboratively trained therapists, divorce coaches, financial professionals and others who may be members of the Divorce Team, as may or may not be needed in a case. The Team looks to customize the division of assets, support payments and amounts, custody arrangements and any other issue to be resolved in a divorce.
Collaborative Law in Pennsylvania
Collaborative Law and the Collaborative process are not new to Pennsylvania. Lawyers and other professionals, who have been Collaboratively trained, have been practicing in the Collaborative process for years. What is new is that Pennsylvania now has a law that encourages and recognizes the process, while providing guidance as to how these divorces should proceed.
Couples can agree on issues that are not covered by Pennsylvania law. A prime example of this would be the subject of college tuition. According to Pennsylvania Law (which differs on this subject from New Jersey law, for example), there is no legal obligation of parents to contribute to the cost of college education, nor financially support their children during this time. A Collaborative Agreement can address that subject and provide a legally enforceable document which will reflect the parent’s agreement.
The Collaborative process encourages and recognizes creativity, so long as both parties agree.
Generally, the Collaborative process is less expensive and a faster process than the traditional, litigated divorce. There are no Court hearings, the necessary preparation for hearings and other Court involvement. There is less posturing and unhappiness. In this process, both parties commit to proceed in good faith. The Collaborative process is an agreed-upon process. Both parties need to agree to proceed in this fashion.
In this geographical area, The Collaborative Law Professionals of Southeastern Pennsylvania are the lawyers and other professionals who are collaboratively trained. If you are interested in discussing this option, contact one of our attorneys, and we’ll be happy to speak with you.
About the Author
Lee A. Schwartz, Esquire is a partner in the SchwartzJordan Law Group LLC. He has been practicing Family Law for over 37 years. Mr. Schwartz is the prior Chair of the Family Law Section of the Philadelphia Bar Association and the prior President of the Nicholas Cipriani Family Law American Inn of Court. He has been practicing Collaborative Law for over ten years.