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Collaborative Law


Collaborative Law

The Collaborative Law process is particularly effective in divorce and matrimonial proceedings, especially when the parties are motivated to retain a functional parenting relationship for the sake of their children.  However, the process is increasingly being deployed to attempt to resolve other types of disputes including: The Administration of Estates, Shareholder/Partnership disputes and even in Employment Matters.

Collaborative law looks a lot like mediation, except each party retains counsel specifically trained in the collaborative process and in interest-based negotiations.

In collaborative divorce, the parties do not go to court, except to secure final orders and judgements. The process is respectful and effective in resolving conflict when the parties are motivated to do so.  Each party has their own lawyer trained in the collaborative process. If needed, other collaboratively trained professionals (coaches, financial planners, child psychologists) may become involved and brought into the process.

The process is mirrored when a collaborative process is used in a non-family law matter. The parties, through a series of face to face meetings, focus on the issues, not on each other. The parties undertake full disclosure and the exchange of relevant information.  Brainstorming and outside of the box solutions are encouraged.  The goal is to create as many options as possible and then find solutions that are mutually beneficial.

The parties, their lawyers, and other collaborative professionals all work together in an out of court, non-adversarial process.

In family collaborative law, the parties sign a participation agreement. By doing so, they agree not to go to court, to disclose all relevant financial information and to proceed respectfully.  Rather than drafting snotty letters between lawyers, the parties work together, negotiate and communicate directly in a structured, facilitated settlement process.

Advantages of Collaborative Law

  • Collaborative Law offers a method of resolving disputes respectfully and with integrity;

  • Offers the parties control over the timing of meetings to suit their circumstances;

  • Clients actively participate in the resolution of their issues. As a result, once an agreement is reached, clients are more likely to respect and honour the terms.

  • Having counsel provides clients confidence with the process and result;

  • Offers privacy and confidentiality, while requiring full disclosure;

  • Allows options tailored to the parties’ specific needs, outside of the box if necessary;

  • Legal information is discussed openly and both parties hear the same information information at the same time;

  • Problem solving techniques learned in the collaborative process will help the parties resolve future conflict;

  • The parties have committed to settle out of court. The process saves time and money as each party is invested in success.

Possible Disadvantages of Collaborative Law

  • The process is not appropriate for high conflict cases (anger, grief or mental illness);

  • If the process breaks down, the parties must retain new counsel and start over in the litigation process;

  • Collaborative Law requires good faith and commitment to work through issues. To succeed both parties must be committed to a process with honesty and integrity and to work out matters directly and collaboratively.  Many clients and lawyers are simply not wired this way.

The Bottom Line

As of September 1, 2019, Alberta Courts will not schedule a trial date unless satisfactory evidence is produced by the parties that they have attempted and participated in a dispute resolution process , or have been exempted by the courts.

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