What is Collaborative Law?
Collaborative law is a non-adversarial approach to helping couples through the process of separation and divorce. At its core are two separating parties willing to work together, with their collaboratively trained professionals, to reach a mutually agreeable solution to their unique issues.
Collaborative law is based on the principles of mutual respect, open communication, and information sharing. It is beneficial for couples who prefer to work together to reach a mutually acceptable agreement.
The collaborative process recognizes that “you” are the best person to make decisions concerning your family, rather than giving control to a court. Additionally, the collaborative process allows your personal information to remain private. In a traditional court based approach, the dispute is a matter of public record.
Within the collaborative process, each party retains a collaboratively trained lawyer. The lawyers will provide you with guidance and support to help generate mutually acceptable options that are focused on the problems and concerns of both you and your spouse. Depending on your situation, additional collaborative professionals (such as family health professionals and financial professionals) may become involved in the process. These professionals are jointly retained by both parties and provide neutral expertise to assist both parties. Their involvement is not intended to duplicate the efforts of your lawyer. Rather the work is allocated to the professional best suited to provide assistance with a particular concern, such as parenting plans, financial budgeting, business valuation, and income determination.
All participants in the collaborative process sign a participation agreement, which sets out the parameters of the process and contains a commitment for the parties to resolve their disputes without going to court. The agreement specifically states that the collaborative professionals are disqualified from participating in litigation if the collaborative process ends without reaching an agreement. This is key to encouraging a process designed to find a solution, rather that one that is prone to fall apart.
As Chartered Business Valuators, we are typically involved in the determination of business value and income available for child or spousal support. Within the collaborative process we are jointly retained by the two parties. This offers the advantage of both parties being involved in the entire process. Specifically, both parties are involved in the exchange of information, have an opportunity to respond to our questions, and provide comments on the facts contained within our draft report. Often the involvement of both parties results in more complete information being provided and an improvement in the parties’ understanding of the factors that are important to the valuation and/or income determination. This generally allows the parties to narrow the scope of any areas of disagreement.
For additional information, we have included a link to the Ontario Collaborative Law Federation website which features a video highlighting the collaborative process. http://www.oclf.ca/OCLF-CPVideoPublic.htm