Monday, April 28, 2014

Uniform Collaborative Divorce Law Act Passes Michigan Senate

By:  Timothy P. Flynn

Readers of this blog will recognize our commitment to the collaborative divorce process.  Whenever possible, given the circumstances and personal dynamics of the parties, it usually is the best way to go in family court.

The collaborative divorce model is where a married couple meets with a team of family law professionals [case facilitator, family counselor, financial planner] before filing for divorce, hopefully resolving all issues in a signed settlement agreement.  The process is collaborative rather than adversarial.

Across Michigan and our nation, there is a steady and growing movement toward favoring the collaborative model; the adversarial process is being relegated to a last resort.

Over the past four years, the Uniform Collaborative Divorce Law has been sweeping across the state legislatures.  Recently, the Michigan Senate passed the model act, sending it along to the House Judiciary Committee.

Because the collaborative divorce model is so distinct from the adversarial process, the uniform law calls for standards and training for lawyers wanting to add collaborative divorce to their practice.  The bill calls for the State Court Administrative Office to develop the training and lawyer qualification standards called for in the model act.

For its part, the SCAO does not want to be tasked with training the lawyers and wonders how it will pay for training and enforcing the standards.  Unlike the other states that have passed the model act, Michigan would be the only state requiring training standards.

These standards come to us from the Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee of the State Bar of Michigan's Family Law Section.

What is wrong with some additional training for family law lawyers, especially in thrust of the collaborative divorce resolution process.  In our opinion, this is a good law which will hopefully pass through the House and become law.

Divorce needs more collaboration and less opposition.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Divorce: There's An App For That Too

Were here at the electronic divorce attorney are not big fans of digitizing personal therapy in an app.  Or the divorce process for that matter.

Today's Freep touted the article Digital Divorce, profiling some nifty digital cell phone apps targeting couples going through a divorce.  Ever since a 20-something Minnesota lawyer created a cell phone app 5-years ago that calculates a parent's child support obligation, we've been seeing this kind of thing in droves.

The Freep's Katie Humphrey notes that there are hundreds of divorce-related apps; some of them even aid spouses with cheating hearts.  Go figure.

But just because its now available in an app, does not make the divorce process any easier.  Family law attorneys across Oakland County warn against substituting experience and professional skills with a self-help app designed by a techie with some minimal knowledge of divorce and family law issues.

Given the complexity of relationships and the divorce process, Ms. Humphrey rightly advises caution when relying on an apps for advice and information.  We also agree that most of the divorce-related apps, all with few reviews to offer market insight, are really just digital snake oil.

One of the apps featured in Humphrey's article, "The Grass is Greener" does seem to hold some value.  It is basically a marriage assessment tool, complete with a 39-question quiz spouses take to gain insight into the type of professionals they may need to hire in order to either: a) save their marriage, or; b) navigate the divorce process.

On balance, however, we are not worried that our lawyers will be replaced by apps anytime soon; no sooner than family court judges will be replaced by robots.