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Collaborative Family Law

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What is Collaborative Family Law?

Collaborative Family Law also known as Collaborative Practice offers a less adverserial way to resolve property, support, and parenting issues. The collaborative approach is particularly appealing to clients who want a process that is economical, empowering, and efficient. A collaborative process encouragescouples to find ways of communicating respectfully with each other to arrive at a solution that works for both of them - and any children.

How does a Collaborative Approach Work?

Unlike mediation, where clients negotiate directly with an impartial mediator, in a collaborative process lawyers provide legal advice, and participate as problem-solvers with the clients during all negotiations. Collaborative lawyers have specialized training and agree to work ethically and co-operatively with each other to ensure their clients are well-informed and participate fairly in the process. Both lawyers and clients sign a participation agreement that establishes rules of conduct, including full financial disclosure and agreement that neither party can go to court during the process.Everyone has an interest in reaching a settlement,since if negotiations fail, both lawyers must withdraw and different lawyers must be hired by the parties to take the matter forward to court.

What is a Collaborative "Team" Approach?

A Collaborative Team approach is tailored to the needs of the family and their finances. This is the only separation process where couples can start by meeting with legal, financial, and family professionals to ensure that the goals and concerns of each family member are understood and can be addressed as the process moves forward.  Separation is often about more than legal issues, however, if issues are primarily legal, the Collaborative professionals on the team might be primarily lawyers.  For challenging financial issues, a neutral financial professional can help expedite a resolution.  Family professionals acting as neutrals can help couples through negotiations by facilitating meetings or working with them individually to improve communications and manage emotions.  When there are children’s issues, a family professional can provide a voice for the children and assist with a parenting plan. 

It is important to discuss process options with a Collaborative professional to ensure you have the support and expertise of the professionals that you need.

Further information about the Collaborative Process

  • Watch a short 13 minute video on the Team approach to Collaborative Practice that was produced by the Ontario Collaborative Law Federation.
  • Amicably ever after
    Judith Huddart and other Collaborative professionals discuss why the Collaborative approach is a good fit for them and their clients, in this May 5, 2008 article in North of the City.
  • The Friendly Divorce
    n this September, 2007 article in Today’s Parent Judith Huddart and other Collaborative professionals point out the benefits for children when separating parents choose a Collaborative Practice approach.
  • Minimize Financial Fallout
    Judith Huddart provides the legal perspective in this Summer 2007 article from More Magazine featuring advice for women about managing financially after divorce.
  • Collaborative Family Law: an overview by Linda Silver Dranoff
    This explains what collaborative family law is, how it works, who would benefit from it, and how it compares to other dispute resolution methods.
  • Collaborative Family Law: Revolutionary Approach Winning Converts Across Canada by Judith Huddart
    The article briefly outlines the availability across Canada of the collaborative process, and describes the skills lawyers in various centres across Canada are learning, to enable them to offer Collaborative Family Law to their clients.
  • Listening to Children in the Collaborative Process by Judith Huddart and Sandra Demson
    This paper was originally presented by the authors at the 4th World Congress on Family Law and Children’s Rights in Cape Town South Africa, March, 2005. The premise is that the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child requires us to listen to children during any proceedings that affect them. Based on quotes from children involved in a recent study, the traditional attitudes of excluding children from the process has not protected them from its impact or from adversarial attitudes. Using the Collaborative Process as an example, the authors outline possibilities and potential pitfalls of a process that can be adapted to listen to children and safely expand the ways they might participate to have their own views heard, in addition to their parents’ views.
  • Also, please check out the:
    Ontario CollaborativeLaw Federation website www.oclf.ca
    Toronto Collaborative Practice website: www.collaborativepracticetoronto.com
    International Academy of Collaborative Professionals: www.collaborativepractice.com

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