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New bill aims to help families going through divorce

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The Ohio Senate and House overwhelmingly passed a bill that will hopefully ease the burden on families in divorce proceedings.

This bill is called Collaborative Family Law Act and was passed 87-2 in the House. The goal of the bill was to eliminate the lengthy and expensive courtroom proceedings and make the process easier.

Ohio State Representative Gerald Stebelton (R) was the sponsor of the bill. Rep. Stebelton’s Legislative Aid, Hunter Wright, said  “The bill allows both parties to work with lawyers and other professionals to avoid costly litigations in courts.”

This law, also called House Bill 461, allows couples going through the divorce process to hire other professionals besides attorneys, like accountants and psychologists to help with the proceedings, pointed out Wright.

Republican State Senator Larry Ohhof said that the bill ultimately allows families going through problematic times to work together instead of getting courts involved.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported the divorce in courts with  couples that have children usually last around 18 months. Where Collaborative Family Law Act differs is that the process starts with an agreement where both parties agree to work together.

“The splitting couple’s attorneys have to agree to a Participation Agreement Contract which states that the attorneys are disqualified from representing the family in future litigation if they drop out of the case,” said Wright about a provision in the bill.

Wright also said the major part of the law is to have lawyers work for the benefit of the couple and not against each so an agreement is made that not only works best for the couple, but for the couple’s children as well.

Besides tremendous support in both the House and the Senate, Wright noted that that the bill has also garnered the support of the Ohio State Bar Association.

While this option of settling divorce is supposed to be easier for the couple to come to an agreement, in the event no agreement is made, then the case will ultimately go through trial courts.

The Collaborative Family Law Act is currently waiting on Governor John Kasich’s signature to become law.

 

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