On Monday, the Maryland Senate passed the Maryland Uniform Collaborative Law Act (“UCLA”) after months of legislative effort. The Maryland UCLA establishes standards and requirements for parties who wish to enter into a collaborative law process – a process which is growing in popularity among many couples who wish to resolve their domestic relations matter amicably and without the tension and strife that often accompany the traditional litigation process.
The Collaborative Process is an alternative to the traditional adversarial system whereby couples choose to make a commitment to resolve their outstanding issues through settlement and hire attorneys for settlement purposes only. The couple has a high degree of control over the process, and both parties are direct participants in team meetings where the majority of the settlement work is done. At the outset, the parties commit to respectful communications and full disclosure to one another. Because both parties agree to voluntarily disclose necessary information, formal discovery tools commonly used in litigation, such as depositions, written interrogatories, requests for production of documents or subpoenas, are unnecessary.
In a collaborative case, the couple works with a team of professionals that support them through the emotional, legal and financial aspects of their case. Generally, the team is comprised of counsel for each party, a financial neutral, a child specialist and mental health professionals who serve as individual coaches for the parties. With the help of the team, the parties determine how to finally resolve all issues between them by using interest-based, problem-solving strategies to resolve differences and arrive at a durable settlement that meets the needs of all family members. In doing so, the parties avoid the uncertain outcomes of court litigation and create a divorce settlement that best meets the needs of both parties.
As part of the effort to bring the Collaborative Process to Maryland, Law Partner Sogand Zamani was involved in the committee that led the legislative effort in Maryland, including researching similar laws in other states and advocating for the law’s passage in Maryland.