Collaborative Law: A cost effective alternative to court

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By Chantel Lawton

Chantel Lawton has been offering services in Collaborative Law since 2012. She has completed specialized training to be able to offer this service to her client’s and has worked extensively with the local group, Kawartha Collaborative Practice, to expand the services available in the area. Chantel is the current chair of the local collaborative organization.

Collaborative Law is an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process used to resolve Family Law Matters without going to court. Couples who are separating or divorcing can resolve issues such as parenting, income sharing, and property division, by using the techniques of collaborative law. Matters are resolved without the use of a decision maker, such as a judge or an arbitrator. It is a voluntary process in which the separating spouses reach an agreement which is then documented in a binding Separation Agreement.

How does it work?

Each spouse has a lawyer who works with them throughout the process. Each lawyer ensures that their client understands their legal rights and obligations and is educated about the law, as it relates to the issues arising from the separation. But, unlike other processes, that is not where it ends.

The lawyers work with other professional team members (Family Professionals and Financial Professionals), to understand what is truly important to each spouse individually, and the family as a whole. Meetings are held during which the chosen professional team, including each spouse, works together to generate options and ideas which will take into consideration each spouse’s needs while ensuring everyone is informed about the impacts emotionally, financially, and legally.

What are the benefits? The process is designed to proceed in a timely and cost efficient way which avoids the disadvantages of other resolution options such as Court or traditional negotiations. The clients remain in control of the decisions and the process can be modified and designed to meet the unique needs of each circumstance. With the assistance of the Family Professional and Financial Professional each spouse is in a better position to move past the grief of separation and be more confident in their plans for the future.

The children remain the central focus of the resolution and the parents are in a much better position to work together civilly and be supported in developing positive communication skills to be able to work together as co-parents. Couples are generally more satisfied with the outcome of a collaborative process because it is designed to meet their unique goals and work for their individual family, and it provides the finality that many families are looking for as a result of separation.

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