Wondering If You Can Legally Separate Without a Messy Court Battle? Consider Collaborative Family Law

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It is perhaps a bit obvious to say that divorces can be messy and that many families struggle to pick up the pieces after a nasty separation. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

When people use court to resolve their disputes they are relying on a stranger, the judge to make major decisions about their life. In a family law context this means a judge can decide when and where you will see your children, how much money flows to or from your spouse, where you can live and even what happens to your house.

Collaborative Family law is an entirely different way of resolving disputes. Instead of taking an adversarial approach, collaborative law puts the clients in the centre, and surrounds them with a team of professionals; lawyers, counsellors and financial experts. Each of these professionals has completed specialized training to facilitate the process.  Collaborative law takes a holistic approach to the parties emotional, financial, and relational needs.

The goal is that clients develop their own agreement on how to move forward without leaving a trail of emotional wreckage behind them. Skilled professionals help clients identify their underlying interests to help them successfully navigate tricky negotiations that might otherwise breakdown.  The process is also more likely to leave some semblance of a reasonable relationship in tact which is particularly important if there will be ongoing communication and decision making as in the case when children are involved.

Starting out, the parties sign an agreement stating they will work collaboratively and agree not go to court. Then through a series of group meetings, couples develop the terms of their agreement, moving at their own pace without arbitrarily imposed court deadlines. The team approach means that there are professionals working with you help you understand the legal, emotional, and financial implications of your agreement.  However, each party has their own lawyer so they can be confident their rights are being protected. Collaborative law can even work in very high conflict situations.

Other benefits are that parties manage their own costs.  There are no court fees, hearings or costs for “expert witnesses”. You also get to maintain privacy. Court decisions are often on the public record. Since family disputes involve intimate details, many people prefer the confidentiality that comes with a negotiated agreement.  At the end of the process you walk away with a legally binding, separation agreement they have created themselves.

Do you have questions about how collaborative law or any other family law issue? You can schedule a no obligation Issue Review Consultation by calling (902) 826-3070 or visit www.highlanderlaw.ca for more information. 

Peter G. Duke - Associate Lawyer

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