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Imagine… A Collaborative Approach To Divorce
is a movement in family law whereby divorcing couples can sign agreements with
lawyers to not go to court. More specifically, the process is known as
Collaborative Family Law (CFL) and the agreement to not go to court is binding
upon the lawyers, not the couple. If one or both clients are unsatisfied, either
may still march the dispute to court. They will however have to find new
heart, the CFL process seeks to develop consensus between the parties for a
mutually acceptable settlement. The settlement can include the division of
assets, spousal or child support and/or the ongoing care of children.
traditional dispute scenarios both parties retain their own financial advisor
and may be subject to a custody/access assessment. The results from financial
planners may vary and in such cases, the dispute then widens to include the
experts. The recommendations of the assessor may not reflect the position of
either or both parties and hence their involvement may fall to conflict as well.
Often, other third parties are drawn into the dispute as well.
the CFL process, while the couple retains separate collaboratively trained
lawyers, they then retain a single financial advisor and/or child expert and/or
divorce coaches who form a team with the lawyers and clients. The financial
advisor, child expert and divorce coaches act as consultants within a team
framework. Because each party has their own lawyer though, they are assured
their respective legal rights are preserved. Certainly the disposition of the
lawyers is one of settlement as litigation is openly off the table. The risk of
conflict is reduced in favour of improving the probability of settlement.
issue to some persons considering CFL, is concern that they may be forced to
capitulate or acquiesce on matters of importance or safety.
no party is to be forced to agree to anything. That is why they both retain
separate counsel; to protect legal rights and assure a process that addresses
either party can table contentious issues and even treatment issues. The
objective is not to capitulate, but to address all issues forthrightly and
develop plans to genuinely mitigate concerns.
actual CFL process occurs in four-way meetings (clients and lawyers) and can be
expanded to include the financial planner, child expert or any other consultant
for that matter. Depending on the style of CFL, ancillary experts may
automatically form part of the team. Various jurisdictions have developed some
unique differences in approach while all the while adhering to the basic premise
of reaching a settlement without the threat of litigation.
on the nature of issues to be resolved, the number and durations of meetings can
vary. Unlike traditional family law where meetings tend to be conducted on a
schedule determined by Court process, CFL meetings are independent of Court and
hence at the control of the participants. Further, because matters are never
left to the discretion of a Judge, the parties retain full responsibility and
control for settlements achieved.
of CFL offer it as a more respectful way to resolve family disputes as neither
side is bent on tearing down the other, but conversely, directed towards leaving
relationships as intact as possible. Because collaborate doesn’t mean
capitulate, issues can be addressed in a manner that maintains control in the
hands of the parties. The process is thought to provide for more durable
outcomes whilst maintaining the integrity of the participants. This bodes well
for the children and transition to new family structures.
Separating or divorcing? Consider Collaborative Family Law for a non-litigious, more respectful solution. Google; Collaborative Family Law.
Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
For information on Direnfeld's book, Raising Kids Without Raising Cane, click here.
20 Suter Crescent, Dundas, ON, Canada L9H 6R5 Tel: (905) 628-4847 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org