Collaborative Family Law Act is an alternative to the adversarial nature of the court process and is a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). It requires both parties to enter into the process voluntarily. They commit to resolving their issues in a respectful and cooperative manner and to avoid adversarial proceedings, with the help of their lawyers to guide them in the process.
Spouses who agree to avoid court proceedings must be willing to be open regarding the issues, and must voluntarily provide full and frank disclosure to the other party. Any negotiated settlement will be based on the assumption that the parties have acted in good faith and have provided complete and truthful information prior to settlement.
Collaborative practice is similar to other forms of ADR such as mediation, arbitration, and negotiation. Both collaborative practice and ADR aims to achieve the most efficient, agreeable, and cost-effective solutions for the parties. Collaborative practice differs from other forms of ADR such as mediation by enabling each party to have their own legal guide during the process as mediators cannot provide legal advice but rather help facilitate the discussions between the parties.
The parties’ lawyers also commit themselves to come to a mutually agreeable resolution. The parties must agree in advance that should the collaborative process fail, neither party may use their collaborative lawyer to advance their position in court. This creates an environment conducive to negotiation and settlement.
Both collaborative practice and other ADR processes are encouraged by our firm because of the opportunity it provides for the parties to control their methods of resolving issues, cost and time expediency, and additional privacy. However, cases that have the risk of power imbalance are not always appropriate for this method of resolution. We have extensive training and experience screening for such power imbalances prior to commencing any process.
Mediation is a process that can be used to resolve disputes before litigation is considered. Once an agreement is reached in the stage of mediation, it is advisable that you review it with your lawyer before signing the documents. There are certain situations where mediation is most suitable including:
- ∎ Willingness to resolve disputes must be present in both parties.
- ∎ Should be comfortable meeting the other party to discuss the issues and settling the disputes amicably.
- ∎ Should be communicative to understand the other party’s concerns and communicate with him/ her needs.
If you are interested in using the collaborative process to resolve your family law issues, please contact our office. Law Wise Family Lawyers have Collaborative Family Law training and will happily help you achieve a resolution to your family law problems. As part of the collaborative process, our lawyers will meet with you to determine your interests and goals and will guide you through the process of reaching an agreement with your former spouse. Once a consensus is reached, we will draft your agreement and have it signed by both parties to create a legally binding document.