The Court process is adversarial and tends to place parties against one another in a confrontational manner. Collaborative Law is a group effort that employs interest focused negotiation techniques. The focus is determining the needs and interests of each party to work toward a resolution that meets each parties’ needs as best as possible.
The focus is on having each parties’ needs met, rather than assuming a static position and fighting for one party’s needs over that of the other. In Collaborative family law, both parties and their lawyers will agree to and sign a collaborative Practice Participation Agreement. By signing the Agreement, the parties are agreeing to deal with each other in good faith, be respectful and not use the threat to withdraw from the process or go to Court as a means of forcing settlement.
The Lawyers also agree that their representation is limited to providing their services within the Collaborative process. Neither of the lawyers may represent either party should the Collaborative process end and the parties proceed to Court.
The Collaborative approach will not necessarily impact the speed at which your reach resolution to your family law matter, although it does mean that you do not have to wait for available Court dates as you would have to in the Court system. Your specific situation as well as the parties involved will really determine how long it takes for your matter to be resolved.
The Collaborative approach does allow the parties and their lawyers to move at their own pace, and the agreement to act in good faith and provide all financial disclosure in a timely manner can speed up the process. Most importantly, the collaborative approach aims to provide you with a durable, long-standing final agreement that both parties will respect and follow.
If you have entered into the collaborative process but are unable to settle your family matter, you can still bring your matter before the Court for a decision. Both parties would be required to retain new counsel to represent them in litigation.
If you choose to litigate your family law matter, the ultimate decision with respect to your matter is made by a Judge based on the legal model. The parties have limited control over the process or outcome. This process may be necessary in some circumstances and is required when parties simply cannot reach an agreement or compromise on an issue.Mediation
Through Mediation, the parties employ the assistance of a third party neutral, the mediator, to attempt to resolve their family law matter. Parties will retain their own lawyers outside of the mediation process to consult with respect to their position, rights and obligations, as well as, to prepare the separation agreement and provide independent legal advice.Lawyer Negotiation
Each party retains their own lawyer who asserts their client’s position towards a settlement. In this process, litigation may be threatened and/or utilized.Arbitration
This process employs an agreed upon private Judge to make a decision based upon the legal model. The parties agree that this decision will be binding upon them as if it were a Court Order. Typically, lawyers are retained to advocate on the parties behalf within this process. In some situations, the parties may agree that their chosen mediator will also arbitrate the issues should they fail to come to an agreement.Colaborative Family Law
In this process, both parties retain their own lawyers who are trained in collaborative law. The parties and lawyers enter into a contract to treat each other in a respectful manner, and agree to disclose all documents and information, and act in good faith.
Both parties must be committed to the Collaborative process. Each party will retain their own lawyer trained in Collaborative Law. You will each meet independently with your own lawyer to review the process and discuss the facts and issues surrounding your family law matter. Both parties and their lawyers will agree to and sign a collaborative Participation Agreement.
By signing the Agreement, the parties are agreeing to deal with each other in good faith, be respectful and not use the threat to withdraw from the process or to go to Court as a means of forcing negotiations. The Lawyers also agree that their representation is limited to providing their services within the Collaborative process.
Neither of the lawyers may represent either party should the Collaborative process end and the parties proceed to Court. Keep in mind, your lawyer has a professional duty to represent you, and is not acting for the other party. Your lawyer will explain to you your options, how the law would apply to your case and likely outcomes.
With this information in mind, you are in the driver’s seat, making the decisions with respect to your matter and what is best for you and your family; with the guidance and advice of your lawyer. The lawyers and clients will meet in four-way meetings to move towards solutions through brainstorming and understanding the interests of the parties and any children that may be involved.
Once the parties have reached agreement on the outstanding issues, the lawyers will draft a Separation Agreement which reflects the parties’ resolution.
The Collaborative Process can include the assistance of Family Professionals and Financial Professionals who have been trained in the Collaborative Practice. Family Professionals are most often counsellors or social workers who facilitate communication and help to work with the parties’ in dealing with their emotions during the process.
Financial Professionals can provide their expertise in helping the parties evaluate their financial situation and plan for their financial futures.