The Joint Procedure Committee has recently been considering a proposal by Judge Gail Hagerty recommending that the Uniform Collaborative Law Act be adopted as a rule in North Dakota.
According to the Uniform Law Commission, "collaborative law is a voluntary, client-driven form of alternative dispute resolution practiced in all 50 states." One area of law in which it is particularly useful is family law. Under the collaborative law process, the parties and their attorneys work together to resolve the issues in the case without concealing information or taking adversary positions. They are assisted by experts in fields like accounting and counseling to develop a satisfactory outcome. If the collaborative law process breaks down, the attorneys are required to withdraw so that the parties can be represented by new counsel in court.
The Uniform Collaborative Law Act was promulgated in 2009 "because of the need for a comprehensive statute addressing the practice of collaborative law." The uniform act is an extensive document that includes very detailed guidelines for collaborative law practice. At its April 2013 meeting, the committee considered a proposed new rule that included the whole of the uniform act. The committee rejected this proposal because it seemed too complex and because it also seemed to deal with matters not within the ordinary scope of the court's oversight. The committee suggested that a simpler rule might be more appropriate.
At its April 2014 meeting, the committee developed a revised proposal that combines elements of the uniform act with Minnesota's rule on collaborative law, a rule that deals primarily with scheduling. The committee also considered a separate proposal that would create a new collaborative law privilege rule based on the privilege section of the uniform act. The committee tentatively approved these proposals.
The committee is seeking feedback from the legal community and groups with a specific interest in family law and alternative dispute resolution on these proposals. The committee would like comments on:
The Joint Procedure Committee will be meeting Sept. 25-26 and will be discussing the collaborative law proposals. The committee would welcome any and all comments on its collaborative law proposals:
Any comments on the Joint Procedure Committee's questions and on these proposals should be submitted by September 22 to firstname.lastname@example.org.