Collaborative family law (also called "collaborative practice", "collaborative process" and "collaborative divorce") is all about...collaboration. This is a process that empowers you to resolve the issues arising from separation in a dignified and constructive manner, prepares you for the future, and helps you protect important family relationships. The collaborative process aims to reduce the adversarial conflict and acrimony that can occur during separation, while enhancing your ability to communicate effectively with your spouse. It can help minimize the negative impact of separation on you, your children and your family.
In the collaborative process, you and your spouse each have a trained collaborative family lawyer who will support and guide you throughout the negotiations and help you choose the best solutions for your family. Your collaborative team may also include a jointly retained family and/or financial professional, who will work together with you, your spouse and your lawyers to resolve all of the issues arising from your separation and divorce.
The Collaborative Process - What to Expect
At the outset of the collaborative process, you and your spouse agree to communicate respectfully, share all relevant information, negotiate in good faith, and put your children’s interests first. You also agree that neither of you will go to court while engaged in the collaborative process. The focus is on problem-solving as a team, not positioning or attacking one another. Both spouses sign a Participation Agreement confirming they are committed to working together to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement.
Negotiations take place during a series of settlement meetings where you and your spouse receive information and advice from your lawyers, and everyone works together to explore your family’s options. You and your spouse participate directly in the negotiations with the assistance and guidance of your professional team to ensure that the discussions are balanced, reasoned and productive. Each of you will also meet individually with your own lawyer throughout the process to ensure that you understand all of your settlement options. In some cases, you and your spouse may also meet with a neutral parenting and/or financial professional to discuss certain aspects of your case.
The number of settlement meetings and the length of the process will vary for each family, depending on the complexity of the issues. If there are short-term issues that need to be addressed more quickly, a temporary agreement or partial agreement may be entered into while the balance of the issues are being negotiated. Once a mutually satisfactory resolution is reached, the lawyers will work together to prepare a separation agreement for you and your spouse to review and sign.
If the collaborative process breaks down and resolution cannot be achieved on all or some of the issues, either spouse may commence a court proceeding, in which case both spouses must retain new lawyers. If this occurs, all negotiations that took place in the collaborative process are confidential and cannot be referred to in a subsequent proceeding. Most cases in the collaborative process are successfully resolved. However, in the unlikely event a breakdown of the process occurs, I will help you find a new lawyer and ensure a smooth transition of your file.
Check out this short video about the Collaborative Process produced by the Ontario Association of Collaborative Professionals.
Schedule a consultation to see if the collaborative process is right for you. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The focus is on problem-solving as a team
Copyright 2015 Daniella Wald Family Law Resolutions