Collaborative Family Law

Divorce or separation – it’s never easy, not for you or your spouse, not for your kids. Fortunately, there is now another way to approach these difficulties. In some cases, it can help you and your spouse or partner find an effective resolution to what may seem like overwhelming emotional and financial challenges. It is called ‘Collaborative Family Law’ and it is new – well, sort of.

What is Collaborative Family Law?

It is an approach to problem-solving. It does not change the nature of the legal problems confronting you, but the collaborative approach allows you to address issues, like spousal support or custody, differently than in a “traditional” divorce.

Rather than running to the Court House for a decision ‘from on high’, collaborative law requires both parties, as well as their lawyers, to agree not to go to court, and to seek constructive solutions through civil, interest-based negotiation. For some, this approach is invaluable precisely because it takes away the threat of Court, and the ‘mean’ lawyer on the other side, and the inscrutable judge…the list can go on.

And collaborative family law is rapidly revolving. From its original format of two clients and their respective lawyers in a series of four-way settlement meetings, collaborative family law has recognized that the needs of the parties – and others, such as their children – sometimes require more expertise than lawyers can provide. As a result, collaborative family law has come to embrace the role that other professionals can play in the process. Divorce coaches, psychologists trained in child behaviour and parenting skills, and financial professionals are some of the main associated professionals that collaborative family law lawyers have begun to recruit in order to more effectively address the many and complex issues their clients may be experiencing in their divorce or separation.

In the next installment of this article, I will examine some of the ‘pros’ of collaborative family law – stay tuned!

Stephen C. Mogdan practices law in Lethbridge.

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