How can I help you?
I practice collaborative family law. I help people to resolve the issues arising on separation to achieve a final, legally binding Separation Agreement. I also help people entering into relationships with cohabitation or pre nuptial agreements. Services I can assist with include:
- Separation Agreements
- Parenting Arrangements after separation
- Child support
- Spousal Support
- Property Division
- Cohabitation Agreements
- Pre nuptial or Marriage Agreements
What is Collaborative Family Law?
Collaborative family law is a process in which you negotiate and resolve the issues with your partner, without going to court. You maintain control over the decisions which will affect you and your family into the future.
The collaborative process involves the lawyers and clients signing a contract which sets out agreed guidelines for the negotiation process. The guidelines include full disclosure, confidentiality, respectful communication, and prioritizing the best interests of children. You both agree that for the length of the process, neither of you will go to court. Negotiations will be focused on the issues, and usually, there are 4-way meetings where the collaborative lawyers and two clients sit down and talk through the issues to be resolved, and settlement options, until a resolution is reached.
Additional supportive professionals are available on an as needed basis. These include specially trained counsellors called divorce coaches to work with you on parenting, emotional and communication issues. There also financial specialists and child specialists who can help bring in the views of the children to the process where parents agree. The collaborative process is designed to provide a safe, open, efficient and cooperative forum to work through the issues and arrive at an agreement.
Why is the Collaborative Family Law Process So Successful?
As past president of the B.C. Collaborative Roster Society, I gave a speech at the Tenth Anniversary Roster Celebration in 2018. In my speech, I spoke about why the collaborative process is successful in my experience. An excerpt from that speech is below:
"Conflict is inevitable" As we all know, conflict is inevitable, it is how you resolve conflict, the process you choose to engage in when conflict comes up, which shapes the outcome and the future, particularly for your children. For separating families, I think collaborative process provides one of the best, if not the best, way to resolution. I have been practicing collaborative family law since 2003. In my experience, this process provides more positive support to clients than any other.
The support comes from three main and unique sources:
- 1. Commitment to stay out of Court The contractual commitment to stay out of court or even threatening to go to court (or lose your lawyer and start again) during all of the sometimes long and difficult negotiations, lends a safety and power to the collaborative negotiation which is unique. Psychologically and practically clients are far more motivated to resolution and breaking through impasse than in informal settlement discussions where turning to litigation when things get sticky is always an easier fall back.
- 2. The Safe Room Another support comes from the format of the lawyers’ 4-way meeting. The client can engage in discussions with their spouse about the future (and the past) , with the comfort and expertise of their own lawyer sitting right next to them and the engagement and useful responses of the spouse’s lawyer who will never be cross examining or using shared information against them in the litigation context. We talk about negotiating in “the safe room”, which leads to candor and creativity.
- 3. The Coaches Finally, perhaps the most powerful support, is the support to the client alongside their lawyer, of their divorce coach. A trained counsellor to help them through the emotional journey of separation and the development of a co-parenting plan which puts the children first. Lawyers aren’t trained to do that work! It is an undeniable part of the separation journey. In collaborative process, this element of the journey is in the right hands. Coaches and lawyers then work together as a team to make sure the whole journey is covered, by the right people and in the most effective way!
In collaborative process, a win involves no one “losing”. That way, the whole family wins.