Alabama Divorce & Family Law Blog > HB 396 Seeks Alabama Child Custody Collaboration

Posted on August 14, 2013


From Steven D. Eversole, Esq.:

Our Alabama child custody lawyers know that another noteworthy piece of legislation passed was HB 396, the Alabama Uniform Collaborative Law Act. It is relevant to all those who are involved in the state’s family law system, and becomes effective Jan. 1, 2014.

Essentially, it provides a procedure by which parties to a family law or domestic relations matter – be it divorce, visitation, custody, adoption, premarital, marital, post-marital or parentage – could resolve that matter through a collaborative law agreement, rather than by court intervention or through a judicial tribunal.

It’s an alternative to litigation. Alabama is one of only seven states, plus the District of Columbia, to have enacted collaborative law. Five others have introduced it this year.

Collaborative law is a legal process that enables couples or parents to work through their divorce or child custody issues through their divorce lawyers and other family professionals without having to take matters into a process of contested litigation. It’s an entirely voluntary process, consented to by both parties in a “participation agreement.”

The goal is that the process would be less expensive, time-consuming and adversarial than it might otherwise be. This can’t be promised, but you would be eliminating certain legal processes present in the litigation process, such as depositions, discovery issues and litigation-related disputes. On the other hand, you may need to hire other family professionals as part of the process, so that could add to the expense. Also, one shouldn’t think of collaborative law as a type of “quickie” agreement. In fact, there are some circumstances under which it could take longer.

The idea is also that it would be less burdensome and stressful for young children, as the process is designed to be more amicable. Even attorneys, who are typically opponents in divorce or child custody litigation, have motivation in collaborative law cases to work together. It’s an entirely different approach, and it may ultimately lead to a more effective resolution in a way that litigation would not.

It’s worth noting that either party to the collaborative law process may terminate it at any point with or without cause. That’s a risk both sides take when they enter into the agreement.

Read more at Alabama Divorce & Family Law Blog.