What To Expect When You Choose Musson Law Firm
The First Call
Making the first call to a lawyer can often be difficult but it doesn’t mean you are committing to getting divorced or even initiating the process. It’s about gathering information. However, If you are making the call, we understand that there are issues within your relationship and that you are evaluating the best path forward – and we’re here to listen as well as advise.
The call will not be stressful and there is no charge for an initial consultation. We will spend time speaking to you about your issues and options and provide you with the information you need to make the decision to divorce on your own terms. If you believe that divorce is the right option to best move forward, we want you to make sure Collaborative Law is the right process for you.
Once you have decided to divorce, the two most important decisions you make will involve choosing the right lawyer and choosing the right process. On the first call, we will discuss the process of collaborative law as an alternative to the traditional court-based approach. It is non-adversarial and excludes court, but requires both parties to work together in good faith through a participation agreement that is facilitated by a team of two specially trained Collaborative Lawyers and neutral third-party specialists.
The Collaborative process is not for everyone and that is something we will try to determine on this call. There is no need to prepare before we speak, yet sometimes it helps the potential client if they learn a bit about the process first. But it is not required.
When you are ready, please call 416.849.0491 or fill out our contact form to schedule a time to speak.
The Collaborative Law Process
Collaborative law as an alternative to the traditional court-based approach that avoids costly court proceedings, preserves relationships and greatly reduces stress and the time required to reach a mutually agreeable, legally binding separation agreement. It is non-adversarial and requires both parties to work together in good faith through a participation agreement that is facilitated by a team of two specially trained Collaborative Lawyers and neutral third-party specialists.
The process begins with the assembly of a ‘Collaborative Team’ that will manage or ‘steward’ the journey, which starts with each party hiring a Collaborative Lawyer who is specially trained and certified in the collaborative process. We then engage the expert services of a Financial Neutral, jointly chosen by the clients to evaluate, manage, and sort through family assets, while determining realistic and forward-looking budgets. If children are involved, a Social Worker is included on the Collaborative Team. Both parties agree upon the choice of a social worker, who is hired on a joint retainer. This social worker will also meet with the children alone and help give them a voice (in a safe way), making the process as child-focused as possible. This collective of professionals forms the Collaborative Team.
The clients then sign a participation agreement, attesting that they are not proceeding to court and are going to negotiate in good faith. This paves the way for the collaborative approach. Next, the Collaborative Team meets without the spouses and agrees upon an agenda for the first meeting. A date is then set for a mandatory, in-person (or through online video during times of physical distancing) meeting involving the entire team and the spouses, at which time the parties arrive prepared to negotiate. A full list of issues is addressed in this meeting. Sometimes we start with the smaller, simpler issues first and then move to the more complex areas. This helps establish trust in the process, trust in the team, and trust in the clients’ ability to reach agreements.
Afterward, the Collaborative Team members debrief, without the clients present. At this time, they set an agenda for the next meeting. This process is followed until all issues are acceptably resolved. When all the issues have been dealt with successfully, both of the Collaborative Lawyers work together in preparing a legally binding separation agreement for review. Once this agreement has been signed, the process is complete – without the time, stress, expense, and public disclosure associated with traditional court-based processes.
The Timeline & Cost
Once people understand and agree to the process of Collaborative Law, they often next want to understand the timeline and cost. While there is no standard timeline and budget (as each process and the people involved are unique), we can provide insight into how couples working together can control these important factors.
Collaborative law is a non-adversarial approach to divorce that avoids costly court proceedings, preserves relationships, and greatly reduces stress. It’s also a proven and reliable way to expedite timelines and preserve family assets. Traditional court-based approaches are not only much more expensive and painful, but they typically take much longer, as the schedule of the court often determines the speed of the process.
A collaborative approach operates under the assumption that the parties involved are the best decision-makers for their futures, and the futures of their children, not a judge. This means the timeline of the overall path to resolution is within the control of the two spouses and determined by their ability to work together in good faith.
While the Collaborative Team (which includes two specially trained Collaborative Lawyers and neutral third-party specialists) will steward the process, the ability of the spousal parties to resolve the set of issues will ultimately drive the schedule, the amount of resources applied, and ultimately the cost.
While there is no standard timeline and budget, resolutions cost between $20 –$30K in total cost and shared between the spouses and require between 6-15 months. But again, the speed and cost are largely determined by the ability of the two parties to work together.