Collaborative Family Law

Collaborative Family Law

Resolve your divorce
without going to court.

Collaborative Family Law is a process whereby couples agree to resolve the legal issues between them outside of court and sign an agreement reflecting that intention. Individuals each have their own lawyers, who are trained as mediators, to assist them in negotiating an agreement. Other professionals are often asked to assist in the resolution of issues, including coaches (therapists), child specialists and financial specialists. This approach supports couples in the process of negotiating the legal issues between them. Both individuals are required to commit to confidential, honest and respectful communication; provide full disclosure of all relevant information; work together to reach a resolution both agree on; and stay out of court. If the couple is not successful in reaching an agreement, each individual must retain a new lawyer to assist with the family law litigation (court) process.

Click here to watch a video about the collaborative process.

Mediation

Work with a neutral third party to reach an agreement outside of court.

Mediation is a process whereby couples work with a neutral third party, a mediator, to facilitate communication and assist in reaching an agreement outside of court.  Mediation can be used at any time, even if the couple is already involved in litigation in court. A mediator will provide the couple legal information, but not legal advice.  Each individual can choose to have a lawyer present at mediation, or will meet with a lawyer before and/or after the mediation to receive information about legal rights and obligations and to have a lawyer advise the individual regarding any agreement that is reached.

Integrative Mediation

Work with a team of professionals and specialists for better outcomes.

Integrative Mediation uses any combination of lawyers, mental health professionals and financial specialists who work together as mediators, in order to help resolve issues between a couple.  The benefit of this process is that it allows for a more efficient, cost effective process whereby the emotional and financial issues that often inhibit a resolution can be discussed, so that resolution is more easily achieved, with more enduring and satisfying results. The process is designed to fit each couple’s needs.

Cooperative Negotiation

Reach an agreement on your own with professional advice.

Couples can reach agreements between themselves, seeking professional advice at any stage of the process.  A lawyer can assist one individual by formalizing the agreement in writing, and the other individual can retain his/her own lawyer to negotiate the details of the agreement, or simply retain a lawyer to provide Independent Legal Advice (“ILA”) before signing the agreement. ILA is when each individual receives legal advice from separate lawyers, independent of the other individual.  Finalizing an agreement without legal advice is not recommended, as each individual should ensure that his or her legal rights and responsibilities are clearly understood.

Family Law Litigation

Working collaboratively you may not even need to attend court.

In order to obtain a divorce, it is necessary to start a court process.  However, where the couple reaches an agreement outside of court on all outstanding issues, the court process is simplified and involves filing documents, often not requiring the couple to attend court. However, when couples cannot reach agreement outside of court, couples may attend court and present evidence, asking a judge to make decisions for them.  This is referred to as the litigation process, and is not part of a collaborative divorce process