Collaborative law is a form of alternative dispute resolution that aims to resolve legal issues without going to court. Divorcing couples often choose a collaborative process because they wish to reduce conflict, establish a positive co-parenting relationship, and help the family move forward in a positive way. Taking the collaborative route is voluntary; both spouses must agree to take part.
What is a collaborative divorce?
In a collaborative divorce, the spouses work together to resolve legal issues and create a mutually beneficial separation agreement, rather than going to court and having a judge make decisions for their family. Because both spouses approach the process with the mindset of reaching a separation agreement that works best for their family, the collaborative process often yields better outcomes, and does so more efficiently, than the conventional court process. To assist in negotiations, each spouse hires a specially trained collaborative law lawyer.
What does a collaborative law lawyer do?
Your lawyer is there to advise you, advocate for your needs, interests and rights, and recommend solutions that make sense for your family’s priorities. Your lawyer will also facilitate information sharing, open communication and disclosure, and respectful discussions between you and your spouse, as well as provide a safe space where you can both speak openly and honestly.
Even with a collaborative process, a divorce can be stressful and emotionally challenging. Your lawyer can provide clarity, support and reassurance during this difficult time, as well as help you understand and weigh your options.
Your collaborative law lawyer may recommend consulting with other professionals, such as a counsellor, social worker or financial specialist, if doing so would help you and your spouse make informed decisions or support your family’s well-being.
You and your spouse maintain control of the collaborative divorce process and make the final decisions. When your negotiations are complete, your lawyers will draft the separation agreement that you will both sign.
What’s the difference between a collaborative divorce and mediation?
Mediation is another type of alternative dispute resolution. You and your spouse would both meet with a mediator, who would help you discuss your issues and come to an agreement. Mediators cannot provide independent legal advice, so each of you still needs a lawyer.
Learn more about mediation.
To learn more about collaborative divorces or mediation, or to book a consultation at Gotal Family Law in Toronto, Mississauga or Oakville, call 647-796-0017.