The Ohio House of Representatives recently announced the passage of House Bill 461, legislation that establishes a voluntary collaborative law process to aid in the resolution of family law disputes without court intervention.

H.B. 461 allows for the commencement of a collaborative family law process by the signing of a participation agreement, signed by both parties and their attorneys, and sets forth the formal requirements of a participation agreement. Upon signing a participation agreement, this legislation requires full disclosure of information by both parties to a collaborative family law process, provides for confidentiality of collaborative family law communications, and creates a testimonial privilege for collaborative family law communications.

While this legislation allows for married couples to work out an agreement without facing a trial court, should the couples fail to reach an agreement, either party may choose to file for divorce/separation so long as the other party is notified. However, H.B. 461 limits the right of an attorney who is representing an individual in a collaborative law process to represent them again in a further proceeding related to the collaborative family law matter.

House Bill 461 also requests the Ohio Supreme Court establish rules of conduct for collaborative family lawyers.

H.B. 461 passed in the House by a vote of 87-2.


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