Proposed Collaborative Law Act Moves Forward

The Collaborative Law committee of the Pennsylvania Bar Association (PBA) recently forwarded to the Family Law Council a draft resolution calling for support for the enactment of a Pennsylvania Collaborative Law Act. The resolution passed unanimously without discussion and will now be forwarded to other PBA groups to gain additional support. The resolution will be presented to the PBA’s Board of Delegates later this year for overall PBA support.

With this movement, it appears the tide has turned with regard to Collaborative practice. It used to be that we spent our time touting the merits and process of Collaborative Law, but because the practice area continues to grow and our neighboring states of New Jersey, Maryland and Ohio have enacted the Uniform Collaborative Law Act (UCLA), there is realization that we need to foster Collaborative law as a viable option for many Pennsylvanians.

It is estimated that there are 300 licensed Collaboratively-trained attorneys in Pennsylvania and eight practice groups across the state dedicated to Collaborative Law, including Collaborative Professionals of Central PA, which was the first such practice group organized in the Commonwealth.

Although 10 states have now adopted the UCLA and five more are considering it, the Pennsylvania CLA is not a carbon-copy of other states’ legislation. Some states have limited their legislation to family law matters and some have not. The PCLA covers disputes between family members, which is broader than disputes on family law matters.

Despite some minor modifications in each state’s legislation, one of the primary benefits of adopting a CLA would be to give attorneys in Pennsylvania who practice Collaborative Law the opportunity to provide their clients with the best possible outcome from their Collaborative divorces through more consistency in enforceability of Collaborative law participation agreements from state-to-state.

If you’d like to know more about the status of the CLA or get involved in efforts to further its advancement to the PBA Board of Delegates, please contact Zanita Zacks-Gabriel the Chair of the Collaborative Law Committee of the PBA.  

Debra Denison Cantor, Family and Collaborative Law Attorney
McNees, Wallace and Nurick, LLC (Harrisburg)