Collaborative Practice is a voluntary process in which separating spouses (both married and common law) settle the issues arising from their relationship or marriage, without resorting to Toronto Family Court.
One of the hallmarks of Collaborative Practice is the ability to negotiate a final agreement without the need for judicial intervention and in a manner that is respectful, honest and customized to the needs of your particular family. The aim of Collaborative Practice is to preserve the family unit by developing constructive relationships post-separation. Most parties that come from Collaborative Practice, walk away with an agreement that they are confident and happy about, resulting in fewer issues in the long term.
What is the process in Collaborative Practice?
In a Collaborative Practice model, you and your spouse:
- Will sign a Collaborative Participation Agreement which outlines the nature and scope of the matter;
- Will voluntarily disclose all information that is relevant to your situation;
- Agree to use good faith efforts in in your negotiations, even if you are not able to do so on your own, in order to reach a mutually acceptable settlement;
- Are each represented by a lawyer who will assist you through the entire process and will advise, advocate and analyze options with you;
- Jointly retain the services of a Family Professional to assist you with communication, navigating the emotional journey, and parenting issues in a manner that is tailored to meet the needs of your particular family;
- Jointly retain a Financial Professional who will assist you and spouse together, to work through all of the financial issues including child and spousal support calculations, property issues and if needed, assist in determining your individual financial outlook post-separation;
- You may jointly engage other experts as needed such as property valuators or business valuators; and,
- In the event negotiations breaks down (which is very rare) and an agreement cannot be reached, none of the professionals engaged in the process may participate if your case proceeds to litigation or arbitration. The disengagement clause which is contained in the Participation Agreement, ensures that every member of the team is at all times focused on reaching an agreement, as there is a joint vested interest in seeing the matter reach a successful resolution.
Collaborative Practice provides you and your spouse/partner with the support, advocacy and guidance of your own lawyers without having to go to Court. Additionally, Collaborative Practice allows you the benefit of the Family and Financial Professional who are working together with you on your team to cost-effectively resolve all of your issues.
In Collaborative Practice, the core elements of your commitments are that:
- You will negotiate a mutually acceptable resolution without having the Court decide issues for you;
- You will maintain open communication and information sharing; and,
- You will create shared solutions acknowledging the highest priorities of all.
Collaborative Practice is appreciated by clients worldwide because:
- It is a confidential process;
- You and your spouse have an influence in the timing of the steps in the process;
- You and your spouse maintain control of the decisions being made; and,
It usually results in settlement faster and in a more cost-effective manner than the judicial process.
Even if you are not able to discuss issues with your spouse/partner or your issues are complex, including cases of domestic violence or power imbalances, Collaborative Practice is an efficient and effective process that will result in you resolving your matters without the need to resort to the Court system. It is being used effectively around the world and many judges are referring parties out of their courtroom to take advantage of the Collaborative Process in Toronto.
Simply put, Collaborative Practice works, even in the toughest cases. We can help you.