Commissioner Tipper offered some history on the act introduced last year. The bill was amended to remove the provision of counsel to persons with low income. There was some discussion of narrowing the scope of the act to family law, but this was not done prior to introduction and it passed the House without objection. A Senate amendment to narrow the act was likely, but the act was not heard in the Senate due to the pandemic. The commissioner pointed out that there is nothing in Colorado statutes prohibiting collaborative law from being used in other areas of the law.
Terri Harrington, Family Law Executive Committee and past president of the Colorado Collaborative Law Professionals, stated that currently collaborative law is only used in divorce law in Colorado, although there are those that believe it could be used in other areas to help alleviate crowded court issues. Collaborative law resolves cases without using court time.
Marie Avery Moses, Co-chair of the CBA Family Law Section Legislative Committee, does not believe that the CBA as a whole would support this bill if it extends beyond family law. Last year, the CBA was working with the bill sponsors to narrow the use of collaborative law to family law.
Andrew White, CBA Director of Legislative Relations, stated that there was concern in applying family law provisions to dispute resolution in other areas of law. Concerns included relationships and the professional and ethical duties required of attorneys in other contexts.
The commission indicated that collaborative law has worked in other areas of law in other states and expressed concerns that narrowing the uniform act to family law may introduce a limitation on the use of collaborative law in Colorado that does not currently exist. There was testimony in the House that collaborative law could be beneficial in other areas of law in dispute situations to maintain or preserve an existing relationship, such as in a contract dispute in a small business. The commission also discussed the use of a delayed effective date regarding the use of collaborative law in areas outside of family law to give practitioners time to adapt to its use. The commission will continue to work on concerns and issues during the adoption process of the act.
Commissioner Tipper moved to draft the Uniform Collaborative Law Act. Commissioner Scott seconded and the motion passed without objection. Commissioners Tipper and Gardner agreed to sponsor the bill.