Collaborative law is a process whereby two people who have issues to resolve each retain their own collaborative lawyer and the parties and their lawyers all sit down together and engage in discussion and exchange ideas and work together constructively toward the resolution of the dispute between the parties by agreement.
In a pure collaborative law case, the parties and their lawyers all sign a Collaborative Law Participation Agreement. One of the terms of such an agreement is that no court action will be taken while the collaborative process is ongoing. Another term is that, if an agreement is not reached as a result of the collaborative process and the parties decide to go to court, the collaborative lawyers must withdraw and the parties must retain new lawyers to take the case to court. As a result in the collaborative process the parties and their lawyers are all fully invested in the process and are all equally committed to moving the case toward agreement. The parties and the lawyers agree to deal with one another in good faith and to ensure that full financial disclosure is made.
In a collaborative law setting, as each party has their own lawyer both parties are supported. This helps to level the playing field and reduce concerns about pre-existing power imbalances between the parties.
In addition in the collaborative process other support personnel may be utilized. If there are financial issues, a financial planner may be brought in to work with the parties and the lawyers in a cooperative way to assist in settling financial disputes. If there are concerns about children, a child specialist, or more than one child specialist, can be brought in to work with the parties and the children to help the parties to resolve issues about the children. If emotional concerns are getting in the way of a resolution, a divorce coach, or two divorce coaches, may be retained to help the parties to deal with their emotions and prevent those emotions from getting in the way of a reasonable settlement.
In cases where a Collaborative Participation Agreement has not been signed, the parties and their lawyers may still decide to use an informal process of collaboration in an attempt to resolve their dispute in an amicable way. In such cases, the parties and their lawyers may convene informal four way meetings at which they all attempt to work together collaboratively to reach an agreement. Divorce coaches, child specialists and financial planners may also be utilized.
At Kitsilano Family Law, we encourage resolution of family law disputes by agreement, and we believe that the collaborative law process is an excellent tool for this purpose.
Bill Storey is a trained, settlement oriented collaborative lawyer with experience in collaborative family law cases and over the years he has been successful in assisting his clients in resolving their family law disputes by agreement using the collaborative process.