Your Questions about Collaborative Family Law, Answered
What is Collaborative Law?
First practiced in the early 1990s, Collaborative Law is a non-adversarial approach to divorce that is designed to preserve relationships, by working collectively to reach mutually agreeable settlements that facilitate the best path forward for both parties…and their children. The Collaborative approach to family law is progressive and 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. In the Collaborative Law process, both parties must sign a participation agreement that indicates their agreement to not go to court and to work in good faith to reach a mutually beneficial resolution for themselves and their children (if children are involved).Back To Top
What is a Collaborative Team?
A ‘Collaborative Team’ includes each party’s own Collaborative Lawyer, a financial neutral, and a Social Worker if children are involved. The Financial Neutral is 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 will be included in the Collaborative Team to make the process as child-focused as possible.Back To Top
Why is a Social Worker an Important Requirement if Children are Involved?
A fundamental objective or outcome of the Collaborative Law process is preserving relationships, and this is perhaps most important when children are involved. A Social Worker is a member of the Collaborative Team, and they may meet with the children alone and help give them a voice (in a safe way). This helps make the process as child-focused as possible when healthy co-parenting arrangements are determined. Both parties agree upon the choice of Social Worker, who is hired on a joint retainer. This expense may also be covered by a family benefit plan provided by one of the spouses’ employers.Back To Top
How Do I Know if Collaborative Law is Right for Me/Us?
Choosing Collaborative Law is a personal decision and one that both spouses must agree to. Collaborative Law is about preserving relationships, avoiding court, and working in good faith to find mutually agreeable resolutions that allow both parties (and their children) to move forward in the best way. The Collaborative Law process is most often less stressful, less expensive, and faster than the traditional adversarial approach.Back To Top
Why is Collaborative Law a Less Stressful Approach to Divorce?
In traditional divorce proceedings (with or without court) the approach is adversarial. Each lawyer is aggressively negotiating against the other side to enforce their rights to the fullest. In the Collaborative Law process, the lawyers and the spouses have agreed to act in good faith and to work together to reach a settlement that is best for both parties, and most importantly for the children (if any are involved).Back To Top
Are My Children Going to Resent or Hate Me (If I Get Divorced)?
Divorce is never easy for children (at any age), but the Collaborative Law process is broadly considered the best approach for managing a way forward when children and co-parenting realities are involved. As a part of the Collaborative Law process, a Social Worker will be included in the Collaborative Team. This Social Worker will meet with the children alone and help give them a voice (in a safe way), making the process as child-focused as possible. This Social Worker is specially trained to work with children through this process and will play an appropriate role in helping children understand and cope with this new reality. Collaborative Law is about preserving relationships, avoiding court (and the need for children to appear in court), and finding a resolution for moving forward including addressing the new realities of co-parenting.Back To Top
How Do I Assure Maximum Discretion?
The Collaborative Law process excludes court and all interactions and outcomes are completely private and legally privileged. In comparison, traditional adversarial processes include court proceedings that are subject to transcription and documentation. These are legally a part of the public domain and accessible with a simple internet search that can be conducted by anyone including children, neigbours, loved ones, and co-workers.Back To Top
How Much Does the Process Cost and How Long Does it Take?
While there is no standard timeline and budget, resolutions usually range between $20,000 and $30,000 in total cost. These costs are shared between the spouses and are typically required over a period of 6-15 months. The speed and cost are largely determined by the ability of the two parties to work together.Back To Top
What Should I Expect on the First Call? How Much Does it Cost?
The call will not be stressful and there is no charge for an initial consultation. Also making the first call does not mean that you are committing to getting a divorce. It is about gathering information. We will spend time speaking to you about your issues and options. We will 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.Back To Top
What Makes Musson Law Different than Another Collaborative Law firm?
Musson Law is focused on the practice of Collaborative Law, mediation, and arbitration. We have over 15 years of experience in negotiating resolutions without the need for court. The benefits of Collaborative Law are proven and seen on a daily basis with each unique client and resolution that we participate in. We are entirely client-focused and understand that a successful resolution includes a successful process for each individual client. One that minimizes stress, is mindful of each client’s unique circumstances and is completed diligently – in the least amount of time with the least amount of expense.Back To Top
Can You Choose Collaborative Law If There Is Infidelity?
Regardless of the underlying issues in the relationship, including infidelity, the benefits of Collaborative Law are significant and the process is still a better alternative to traditional, adversarial court-based processes. In cases where infidelity is a predominant issue, a social work professional will be involved to help with managing emotional issues. Managing emotions is not only an important step for an individual to move forward personally, but until addressed can prevent productive resolutions related to the transaction of the divorce including determining the division of property and arranging support. Often a genuine apology can go a long way and the collaborative process, unlike a courtroom, can provide a forum for this to happen – and it usually does.Back To Top
How Do I Get My Spouse on Board?
Ultimately both spouses must agree to the Collaborative Law process, and each must hire a specially trained collaborative lawyer and formally agree that they will not go to court and will work in good faith. This may take some time and you do not need to worry about rushing the process.
When ready, but as early as possible, talk to your spouse about the benefits of collaborative divorce versus an adversarial process that involves court and the stress, time, and expense that go along with it. However, if you are the party that initiated the separation, it is better that you do not raise the idea of a collaborative process immediately. Give your spouse the time that they need to process the realities of the breakdown of the relationship first. Make them feel that your intention to find the best resolution is honest and genuine. You should also include in your conversation that you are also very mindful of acting in the best interests of your children that will be a part of both of your lives moving forward. – and that moving forward collaboratively and in the ‘best way’ is ultimately best for them.
While every relationship and situation are unique, we do have significant experience in helping clients sit down and prepare or outline a ‘script’ for this initiating this conversation – and are happy to discuss this with you on our first call so please contact us when you are ready.Back To Top