Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I choose the Collaborative Process instead of Court-Based Approaches?

Unlike the Collaborative Process, litigation is typically adversarial in nature and often based on a ‘win/lose’ foundation. Each lawyer tends to focus on getting a better deal than the other party.

Litigation-based negotiations and agreements are often restricted by formulas, rules of thumb, governing powers and ultimatums. Within court-based approaches, decisions are made by a third party judge who may have limited knowledge of or may not consider all the needs and goals of the parties involved. This can often serve to increase conflict and create resentments that can be very upsetting, long-lasting, and make co-parenting very difficult. In addition, conflict between the parties often increases the time to reach a final resolution

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Does all litigation-based separation/divorce end up in Court?

Although approximately 90% of all non-Collaborative family law cases are eventually settled out of court, the litigation process is still adversarial, which differs greatly from the Collaborative process. Even though Collaborative and non-Collaborative processes can lead to a settlement, the Collaborative Process tends to manage, rather than ramp up, conflict throughout the process.

For couples involved in separation/divorce, an Interspousal Contract and Separation Agreement (“Agreement”) is required, alternatively the court decides how assets will be divided and as applicable determines parenting arrangements.   While still providing legal guidance to protect their respective client’s interests, collaboratively-trained lawyers encourage creative solutions and work together to help their client’s reach agreement without the necessity of involving a judge.  By design, the collaborative process ensures that the unique needs and goals of the parties involved are taken into account and thus offers the parties more control in both process and outcome than litigation approaches.

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How is Collaborative Separation/Divorce different than Mediation?

Mediation involves one neutral third-party (the Mediator) who guides the parties through the separation/divorce process by assisting the couple to address the issues that need to be resolved. Due to their neutral role, mediators cannot advocate for or provide legal advice to either party. Within the Collaborative Process, each party has legal representation from their respective collaboratively-trained lawyer to protect their rights and interests.

There is no requirement for Mediators to also be lawyers, however even when qualified Mediators are lawyers, due to their neutral role in the mediation process, they cannot advocate for or provide legal advice to either party. As such, typically each party will need to employ a lawyer to finalize agreements reached through the mediation process

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Is the Collaborative Process more costly than other options?

No. The Collaborative Process is focused on reaching a mutually acceptable and enduring settlement in a timely manner. Collaborative lawyers and professionals (as applicable) jointly work together, taking into account the respective needs and interests of the parties involved.

In contrast with other options, the Collaborative Process can be more cost-efficient and can add value. For example, the Collaborative Process eliminates the emotional and financial costs of multiple court appearances. Clients also save the money that might be otherwise spent on multiple experts to prepare documents and exhibits for use in court, or to conduct discoveries and issue subpoenas.

More detailed information and cost ranges for each of the other divorce and separation process options can be found on the Comparison Chart.

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Who is involved in the Collaborative Process?

In addition to both parties benefiting from their respective lawyer’s legal expertise, the Collaborative Process can involve interdisciplinary professionals on an as needed basis. By involving the right professional at the right time, legal costs and the emotional toll of divorce or separation are reduced and your financial assets preserved.

In addition to collaboratively-trained lawyers, as needed, other interdisciplinary professionals who may form part of the collaborative team include: divorce/separation coaches (who are collaboratively-trained mental health professionals), child specialists (who bring forward the ‘voice of the children’ impacted by divorce or separation) and/or financial professionals (who help plan a fair and balanced distribution of your assets for the long term security of the whole family.

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Isn’t having a team of professionals going to cost more money?

No. Cost savings can be realized by utilizing the expertise of other collaboratively-trained professionals.

All collaborative professionals work as a team (on an ‘as required’ basis) to address client needs and goals, which otherwise would need to be addressed by lawyers alone who may not have the same degree of expertise in a particular area and often have a higher hourly rate than other collaboratively-trained professionals. Learn more about the collaborative team professionals.

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What if my partner and I are in conflict and not working or parenting well together?

Even for people who are having difficulty talking or working together, a positive Collaborative process is still possible. The Collaborative process may be a good option for you if any of the characteristics noted under the View More tab match with your goals or issues.

Characteristics that may be a good fit with Collaborative Practice include:

  • You have so much conflict that it’s hard to imagine how you could reach agreement.
  • You see the value in getting guidance and support for your emotions, finances, co-parenting and children. You want to avoid resolving disputes in an adversarial manner.
  • Rather than having a judge (who doesn’t know you or your unique needs) make decisions about you and your family, you would rather work towards sorting out problems with the help of skilled collaborative professional(s).
  • You’re willing to consider creative solutions to issues and problems.
  • It’s important for you and your spouse to minimize conflict and to have a good working relationship with your spouse/partner in the future, particularly if there are children involved.
  • You want the well-being and needs of your children to be considered throughout the divorce/separation process as well as in the future.
  • You want to feel a sense of control in the process and outcome. Your goal is to have a civilized, respectful resolution of the issues. Within the Collaborative Process, guided by their respective lawyers (and when applicable other members of a collaborative team), clients agree to work toward resolving their issues without going to or making threats to go to Court.

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