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Collaborative Family Law is a process for resolving disputes between couples who are separating in which both of the parties agree to resolve their issues without going to Court. The parties each retain their own Registered Collaborative Family Lawyer to provide advice and assistance with negotiating an agreement. The goal is to enable the parties to reach a mutually agreeable and mutually beneficial resolution of their issues that will reduce the negative impact of litigation on your emotional and financial well-being while you are experiencing family breakdown.
“Four-Way” Settlement Meetings
In a Collaborative Family Law matter, decisions are made in a series of “four-way” settlement meetings that are attended by both parties and each of their lawyers.
The first step in a Collaborative Family Law file is to enter into a Participation Agreement. This Agreement sets out the principles of the collaborative process and the expectations of all participants in the Collaborative process. By signing the Participation Agreement, you are committing to fully disclose and exchange information, to treat each of the other participants with respect and fairness, and to keep confidential the information exchanged as part of the Collaborative process.
Determine Your Needs, Goals and Objectives
Once a Participation Agreement is signed, the parties meet to develop an understanding of each other’s needs, goals and objectives, and create individual and shared goals for the future to assist them in generating options for resolving the issues between them. If necessary, the parties can agree to involve other experts to assist them throughout this process, including financial professionals to assist with money and financial issues, parenting experts to assist in resolving parenting issues, and divorce coaches to provide support with the emotional aspects of the collaborative process.
Evaluate Options for Resolving the Issues
Once the parties have generated options for resolving their issues, the collaborative team assists in evaluating options based on the parties’ goals. At all stages throughout the process, your Registered Collaborative Family Lawyer will ensure that your legal rights and obligations are considered.
Finalize an Agreement
After an agreement is reached, your lawyer will work with the other parties’ lawyer to prepare all of the documentation that is necessary to implement your agreement, including a Separation Agreement and Divorce Judgment, if necessary.
There are many options available to people who have experienced relationship breakdown. Some other common methods of dispute resolution include mediation and litigation.
Family breakdown is a difficult process for individuals and for their families. A Collaborative Family Law process can reduce some of the stress and conflict which is often experienced by parties who are engaged in the court system. Some of the reasons that people choose collaborative law are:
What is the benefit of retaining a Registered Collaborative Family Lawyer?
Registered Collaborative Family Lawyers in Alberta have undertaken mandatory training, including mediation, interest-based negotiation and training on the collaborative family law process. In order to continue to be a Registered Collaborative Family Lawyer, the lawyer must also complete regular ongoing training in areas relevant to Collaborative Practice.
What is the difference between Collaborative Family Law and Mediation?
In mediation, the parties use a neutral professional to assist in settling the dispute. Because the mediator is neutral, they do not represent either party. Like collaborative law, the parties do not go to court during mediation, and will generally agree to share information. Most often, lawyers do not directly participate in mediation, although it is possible for lawyers to attend mediation. In mediation, your lawyer is often involved only to consult with you outside of mediation and prepare final settlement documents if an agreement is reached. Mediation is ideal for parties who have a good ability to understand and analyze the information provided by the other party, and can directly communicate their needs and wishes to the other party. For more information about how mediation works and the lawyers in our firm who also act as mediators, please see our mediation page.
How does Collaborative Family Law differ from Litigation?
Litigation is another option for resolving disputes after family breakdown. In many cases, parties will face interim court applications, questioning under oath in relation to their evidence in the case, and settlement discussions. Where parties cannot reach an agreement, trial or other judicial process may ultimately be required, which places the resolution of the family’s issues in the hands of a third party who has limited information regarding the circumstances of the family. While litigation may be the only option in some cases, it is often more costly, takes longer, and results in less satisfactory outcomes.
If you require a consultation with a family law lawyer or are ready to retain a family law lawyer, please complete our intake form by clicking here. A staff member will contact you within one or two days.