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.
- View a copy of the Collaborate Family Law Participation Agreement
- View Process Guidelines for Effective Participation
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.