What is Collaborative Practice?
Collaborative Practice involves professionals working collaboratively and cooperatively to assist their clients to resolve the issues related to separation and divorce out of court.
Collaborative professionals include lawyers, financial specialists, counselors, social workers, psychologists, and mediators, working together as a team to assist clients to resolve their disputes.
Collaborative Practice offers separating or divorcing couples an alternative to court. In all cases, each client will be represented by a collaborative family lawyer.
It is also an inter-disciplinary team approach – when appropriate, collaborative family lawyers and collaborative family coaches (such as counselors, social workers, psychologists, and mediators) and collaborative financial specialists (accountants, financial planners) work together to help clients deal with this very stressful and challenging transition of divorce.
The process of collaborative practice helps protect the best interests of both clients, and the best interests of children.
The collaborative team works together to resolve all issues in dispute – including property settlement, parenting issues, or support.
Collaborative practice is a cost-effective, respectful process that results in long-lasting legally-binding agreements.
What is the Collaborative Practice Team?
Collaborative Family Lawyers
Are legal practitioners who are trained in the collaborative process. Each client retains a collaborative family lawyer to advise them individually and to support them throughout the process. Each client consults privately with their lawyer and then participates in four way or five way meetings with the other client and their lawyer. Often one or both of the other neutral team members (family coach and financial specialist) will also attend the meetings making them five or six-way meetings. Collaborative family lawyers use non-adversarial problem-solving skills to assist clients to resolve all issues in dispute. The collaborative family lawyers prepare the necessary legal documents such as separation agreements to complete the process.
Collaborative Family Coaches
Are counselors, social workers, psychologists or mediators who have expertise in family dynamics and issues pertaining to separation and divorce. Collaborative family coaches provide emotional support, teach communication skills, discuss parenting, and help ensure that feelings, needs, and concerns are understood and respected. Family coaches may assist clients with the following:
- Improving Communication
- Parenting Plans and access schedules
- Understanding and assessing the developmental needs of children at different ages
Collaborative Financial Specialists
May be accountants, business valuators and financial planners who have expertise in helping separating families discuss issues relating to property (assets and debts) and support, understanding pensions and investments, understanding taxes, valuing property and businesses (if applicable). They assist clients in ensuring that full and complete financial information is collected and disclosed to the other party and team members.
How is Collaborative Practice Different?
Collaborative Practice is about cooperation, not confrontation.
It is about Representation, not Litigation. Decisions and negotiations take place out of court. It is a NO COURT approach to separation and divorce.
Collaborative Practice relies on a sense of cooperation, honesty, integrity and professionalism focused on the future well-being of the separating/divorcing clients and children.
Collaborative Practice can be used to help parties resolve family law disputes, including parenting issues, property settlement and divorce. Meetings and conferences between clients and lawyers, family coaches and financial specialists are used to settle all issues in dispute.
Every Culture Every Community
Every family is different. We respect those differences.
Collaborative Practice is a client-centered process. What that means for you is that the process can be crafted so that it is appropriate for and your family. We take into consideration the cultural norms and preferences of our clients so that your needs are met the way you want it.
The Court process is a defined process that is not changed based on your preferences. Instead, you must comply with the steps prescribed by legislation.
In Collaborative Practice, the professionals may suggest steps in the process but will work with you to develop a process that accommodates your needs.
We accommodate the needs of everyone. We believe that members of every culture and every community can feel comfortable in the Collaborative process. We listen to you.