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Separation and Divorce – A Dignified Approach

Posted by samanthas on July 18, 2012 in Relationship with No Comments


Separation and divorce can be extremely stressful for a couple ending their marriage.  When children are involved, the process can be even more devastating.  An aggressive and long legal battle can emotionally scar all parties involved.  There are alternatives to going to court that make the divorce process less damaging.  These alternative models also tend to be less expensive and quicker than court battles.

Collaborative family law is a dignified and cooperative approach to separation and divorce.  This is a relatively new process that works best with couples who can speak reasonably and rationally to resolve their issues.   The collaborative family law model uses a team approach to assist spouses in resolving issues that arise upon the end of a marriage.  The collaborative “team” includes both spouses, their lawyers, and any other professionals they feel are needed.  Financial experts (such as accountants, business and pension valuators) and family specialists (such as therapists and parenting coordinators) may be included.  With advice and assistance from the lawyers, the spouses decide who they need on their team.  Often, lawyers are not needed for all aspects of the negotiation.  Using this team approach is cost effective and efficient because the spouses have access to the right expertise at the right time.

In collaborative family law, separating spouses control the process (rather than lawyers or a judge) and work together.  If both parties agree to use the collaborative model, a Participation Agreement is signed by the spouses, their lawyers and any other professional members of the team.  During a series of confidential meetings, the spouses (with support from their team) identify issues, generate options and choose solutions that meet the needs of both parties and their children.  The collaboratively trained lawyers then draft a separation agreement based on the decisions.

Collaboration eases the emotional strains of a separation and protects the well being of the children.   The goal of collaborative family law is to assist separating spouses and their children to achieve the best possible outcome for all involved.  Collaboration encourages mutual respect and emphasizes the needs of children. Through open communication as well asfull and transparent financial disclosure, both parties address their concerns and interests.  This process paves the way for smooth transitions and positive interactions in the future.  People who reach agreements themselves tend to be more satisfied in the long run than those who have decisions imposed on them by a judge in court.The collaborative approach keeps you in control of the process and keeps it out of the courts.

Collaborative family law is a voluntary process for resolving conflict in a separation.  Both parties must cooperate in the settlement meetings.  If either spouse later decides to go to court, then everyone on the team must withdraw from the process, including the lawyers.  This is an incentive for both spouses and their lawyers to be committed and focused on negotiating and coming to an agreement.The lawyer’s role is to provide legal advice, and coach the spouses in an organized framework to agree on the terms of a separation agreement.  Collaborative family law is not for everyone, but it is a viable and preferred method for many families going through separation and divorce.

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