On July 1, 2020, the Uniform Collaborative Law Act was signed into law in North Carolina and becomes effective on October 1, 2020. What is in this new law and how will it help businesses, individuals, and families in resolving disputes that may arise?
First of all, what is Collaborative Law?
- It is an out of court dispute resolution process that avoids expensive and time-consuming pleadings, motions, hearings, and discovery.
- It is entirely voluntary. No one is required to use it; and any party can quit the process at any time if it is not working out for them.
- It is client-centered with no judge, jury, or arbitrator deciding the outcome.
- It is a non-adversarial approach to problem solving, which means that the lawyers involved agree not take the matter to court.
- It is based on the voluntary and good faith exchange of relevant information and joint retention of neutral experts to assist the parties in reaching agreement.
What does the new law do?
- It provides uniform standards across the 19 states and the District of Columbia that have adopted it to date.
- It assures that the process is voluntary.
- It assures that parties are informed of the benefits and risks of the process.
- It assures confidentiality of communications in the process.
- It provides a formal mechanism to stay court and other adversarial proceedings while the parties engage in the collaborative process.
- It pauses the proverbial stopwatch to allow the parties to engage in creative and collaborative legal problem solving without fear of losing their rights.
Why is this law good news?
- It saves time and money.
- It provides complete flexibility in allowing the parties to set their own schedule.
- It can be conducted in the lawyers’ offices or even online and is, therefore, not effected by court closures or full dockets amidst a pandemic or otherwise.
- It provides an opportunity for parties, especially family members, friends, or closely held businesses, to maintain or even strengthen their relationships as they work through their conflict, with guidance and support of collaboratively trained lawyers.