New Law Regulates Collaborative Law Process in Pennsylvania

Attorneys may see uptick in collaborative divorces, families reap benefits

July 03, 2018 | Press Releases

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PITTSBURGH — More amicable and affordable divorces may be in the future for more Pennsylvanians now that collaborative law, a process long accepted by the legal community, has been recognized and regulated by the state.

The Pennsylvania Collaborative Law Act, part of H.B. 1644 sponsored by Rep. Kate Klunk, was signed into law by Gov. Tom Wolf on Thursday, June 28. The new law creates a uniform standard of practice in Pennsylvania for collaborative divorces for the first time.

Collaborative law is a way to work through the details of a divorce in a fair, cordial, quick and cost-effective manner. In a collaborative divorce, each spouse is represented by an attorney and enters into a participation agreement with the goal of preparing a legally binding agreement signed by the parties which resolves all issues pertaining to the divorce. The parties agree at the outset of the process that, should they fail to negotiate a resolution, they will each be required to retain new counsel at new law firms for any subsequent litigation.

“Collaborative law is an ideal process if both parties want to avoid the courtroom and are interested in an amicable relationship with their former spouse,” said Pittsburgh collaborative family law attorney Candice L. Komar, founding partner of Pittsburgh-based family law firm Pollock Begg Komar Glasser & Vertz LLC. “This process is especially beneficial if there are children born of the marriage. That way the children do not have to stress at graduations, weddings and births of their own children.”

The collaborative process requires rigorous training by the attorneys and other professional participants. It typically involves numerous meetings with both the parties, a collaborative coach, and the attorneys present. The meetings address all elements of the divorce including custody, support and the division of property. Frequently the parties also engage the assistance of specialized experts such as tax accountants, financial planners, parenting coaches and counselors who are jointly retained by the parties to provide them with information that aids in decision making.

“Collaborative law attorneys are trained to diffuse conflict and create a mutually respectful and communicative environment for all parties in the divorce,” Komar said. “What I love most about the process is one is not bound by what could happen in court. Most times the collaborative process results in creative solutions benefitting both of the divorcing spouses and any children involved.”

While many couples choose collaborative divorce over traditional divorce litigation because it promotes healthy communication and minimizes hostility, the process can also save time and money. There are no formal filings and no waiting for court dates. Because all information is openly exchanged and experts hired jointly, the legal fees are lower. The process in some cases can happen in as quickly as four months.

Complex estates and high net worth families frequently opt for a collaborative divorce for another benefit, privacy. Aside from filing the divorce complaint and decree, the process is completely private.

In addition to Komar, Pollock Begg boasts four additional attorneys trained in collaborative law; Partner Joseph R. Williams, Senior Associate Stephanie L. Jablon, and associates Robert D. Raver and John C. Scialabba.

“We have encouraged our attorneys to be collaboratively trained because the skills learned very much enhance our work in the regular litigation process,” Komar said. “Besides I truly believe alternative ways of divorcing, like collaborative law, are the wave of the future.”

About Pollock Begg Komar Glasser & Vertz LLC
An intellectual influencer in the legal marketplace, Pittsburgh-based Pollock Begg Komar Glasser & Vertz LLC focuses on innovative, team-oriented solutions to resolve domestic matters. Driving legal expectations in the industry, the family law attorneys at Pollock Begg serve in numerous leadership positions within matrimonial law organizations and are encouraged to participate in pro bono work, volunteer and community endeavors. Founded in 2001, Pollock Begg is a top-tier law firm as ranked by U.S. News and World Report. For more information, visit PollockBegg.com.

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