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.
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.
Cooperative Negotiation &
Independent Legal 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.
Reach an agreement on your own with professional advice.
Work with a neutral third party or lawyer to reach an agreement outside of court.
When a married or common-law couple decide they no longer want to be in a relationship, they “separate.” Separation Agreements are contracts that formalize in writing the agreement between individuals regarding how legal issues are dealt with when a marriage or common law relationship ends. These issues include legal obligations and rights relating to child and spousal support, parenting arrangements and decisions regarding children, and how a couple’s assets and debts will be divided. It is important to obtain advice from a lawyer soon after the separation or when thinking of a separation.
Cohabitation Agreements & Marriage Agreements
Decide as you enter into a common-law or formal marriage how you want to share assets and debts.
Marriage Agreements are contracts between individuals which are entered into before a couple marries, or shortly after they marry. These agreements are intended for couples who wish to formalize in writing how they want to deal with certain issues, including debt, cash and property, either during the marriage or in the event of a marriage breakdown.
Cohabitation Agreements are contracts between non-married couples who plan to live together or already live together. In 2013 the Family Law Act came into effect in British Columbia, providing that couples living together in a marriage-like relationship for 2 years have the same property rights as married couples. These agreements are intended for couples who wish to formalize in writing how they want to deal with certain issues, including debt, cash and property, either during their cohabitation or in the event of a relationship breakdown.
Marriage and Cohabitation Agreements are useful for couples where:
one spouse has substantial property or debt going into the marriage which the couple wishes to keep separate in the event of a marriage breakdown;
one spouse is expected to acquire substantial property during the marriage (such as an inheritance, gift, trust receipts as a beneficiary of a trust, court award, and significant draws from a business) and the couple wishes to ensure the property is kept separate in the event of a marriage breakdown;
there are children from a previous marriage or relationship and the parent wishes to preserve assets for those children;
Uncontested Divorce Applications
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, and the couple does not have to attend court.
Simplified court process and couples don't have to attend court.