What Is Collaborative Family Law?
Collaborative Family Law (CFL) can provide a very cost effective and amicable method for separating spouses to resolve the issues arising out of the breakdown in their marriage or relationship.
“In traditional legal representation involving separation and divorce matters, the family lawyers attempt to negotiate a settlement of the issues and if negotiations fail, litigation is commenced. In this process the lawyers are in charge of the discussions. While they may focus on settling the case, they must also spend time preparing for the possibility of a trial.
Mediation is an alternative to negotiation between lawyers and litigation. A mediator is a neutral third party who assists the parties to reach a mutually acceptable settlement. Mediators are usually either lawyers or mental health professionals with experience in family dispute resolution. The mediator does not give legal advice or have any decision-making authority. The mediator may or may not prepare the draft Separation Agreement. Usually, the parties attend mediation without their lawyers. A mediated agreement is reviewed by the parties’ lawyers before the terms are finalized and it is signed.
Like mediation, Collaborative Family Law is distinguished from litigation and lawyer-to-lawyer negotiation in the shadow of litigation by employing an interest-based, non-adversarial approach. The parties conduct their settlement negotiations directly with each other although their lawyers are by their side, every step of the way. Negotiations take place in a series of face-to-face meetings with both lawyers and parties present. Collaborative Family lawyers act as negotiation coaches, information resources, and legal advisors. The parties disclose all of their important information, undertake to negotiate in good faith, and work together to develop a full array of options for settling their case.
Fundamental to the understanding of Collaborative Family Law is the contract entered into by the lawyers and the parties, the Participation Agreement. This agreement provides that if settlement is not reached and a party wishes to go to court, both lawyers must withdraw and neither may represent his or her client in litigation. This agreement ensures that the lawyers are fully committed to settlement and their only role in the process is to help the parties arrive at a settlement that satisfies the interest of both.
Collaborative Family Law lawyers are trained in interest-based negotiation skills, mediation techniques, and the Collaborative Family Law process. If other experts are required, such as counsellors or financial experts, they are jointly retained as part of the collaborative team.
Many benefits flow from the collaborative approach. Separating spouses have the opportunity to create customized solutions, generally more quickly and at less expense than if they were to proceed through the traditional court process. Their participation in this process improves their ability to communicate effectively, to co-parent their children, to develop an appreciation of each other’s perspectives and concerns, and to achieve a dignified closure to their relationship. Lessons learned about effective conflict management will carry over into their post-separation lives to resolve future issues which may arise.”
The Scott Furlong Ford family lawyers provide collaborative family law services to clients throughout the areas of Oshawa, Bowmanville, Whitby, Pickering and the greater Durham Region.
Furlong Ford Collaborative Family Lawyer:
If you’re ready to speak with one of our collaborative family law lawyers, please contact us at (905) 448-4800 so we can schedule a time to talk about your situation.
To visit the Durham Region Collaborative Family Law Association’s website, click here.