Collaborative Family Law (CFL)

Collaborative law is a method of assisting client by using cooperative strategies to resolve conflict. In a CFL process, both clients and their lawyers enter into an agreement to exchange all relevant information and to settle issues without going to court. Negotiation is done “face-to-face” during meetings attended by all four. The lawyers act as legal advisors to the clients and as negotiation coaches. If other professionals are required (such as child psychologists or financial advisors), they are expected to act in a neutral fashion and not “side” with one client. The focus is on settlement, without the threat of going to court, and the objective is determining a solution which both clients find satisfactory. A side benefit can – and should – be improved communication between the clients. However if no solution is reached, both parties must hire new lawyers to take them to court; the lawyer who has acted in a collaborative role is bound by ethics and by agreement not to represent that client in court.



Mediation is a type of dispute resolution in which an impartial, qualified individual assists individuals to reach an agreement. The mediator works with both spouses to help them reach their own agreement on issues such as custody, visiting schedules and financial matters. The mediator does not represent either person nor make recommendations. Each spouse still requires separate lawyers to advise whether the mediated agreement is legally sound and fair to them. Mediation is not relationship counseling.



The arbitration process is similar to a court hearing; however, it is fully confidential and it is held in a private setting agreed by the participants with an arbitrator chosen by them. It is possible to obtain an arbitrated resolution much more quickly than a court resolution. The decision rendered by the arbitrator is binding and enforceable unless appealed.



Litigation is the process of going to court in order to have your dispute resolved.

Unique to Nova Scotia, Sealy Cornish Coulthard has a family law group led by two lawyers who each have more than twenty-five years’ experience in the various aspects of family law.

In 1991, Doug Sealy recruited Julia Cornish to join his busy family practice and the two have been partners since 1995. Together with the general practice group, the family law team can assist clients with a variety of legal needs including:

  • Separation and Divorce
  • Parenting Resolutions; including post-separation parenting plans, custody, access, paternity disputes and related court hearings
  • Division of Property including Family and Business Assets
  • Child and Spousal Support
  • Domestic Contracts; including cohabitation agreements and marriage contracts
  • Adoptions, both domestic and international
  • Arbitration Services DEFINITIONDEFINITION
“I wish everyone I know and care about requiring family law counsel, could have access to a lawyer like you.”
- C.
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