The collaborative family practice came to the Ottawa region about 17 years ago. In fact, our lead counsel, Nigel Macleod was the founding President of the Ontario Collaborative Law Federation and was instrumental in hosting Ottawa’s first training in this exciting field. We’ve seen a steady increase in our Collaborative files recently and the feedback from our clients is positive. I imagine that this stems from greater knowledge in the community about the settlement-based collaborative model and increased client involvement in the process itself.
The Collaborative Process in Ottawa is practiced by lawyers that have received specialized training and are registered with Collaborative Practice Ottawa (CPO). Collaborative practicing lawyers are experienced specifically in family separation, as well as viable and equitable solutions, with the goal of avoiding litigation. In fact, both parties agree to not go to litigation when they embark on the Collaborative Process. This is known as the lawyer disqualification provision which is found in the Participation Agreement. So, the threat of a looming court case and the related financial stress that relates to court is simply removed from the picture, by mutual consent.
The Collaborative Practice places a major emphasis on listening to both parties and assisting them to customize their own solutions which work for their own family and their respective transition plans. It’s hard to believe that some people would rather go to court and let a stranger make long-lasting decisions about their families and their children’s lives. (In fact, this is what Judges have been quoted to say.)
Some of the attributes of a Collaborative approach to separation include:
- First and foremost – the parties agree to not enter a costly court battle;
- The Collaborative Process will help you both to place emphasis on your interests rather than the battle;
- Special attention on the children’s transition;
- Resourceful and creative problem solving that is customized for individual families;
- A supportive environment, for you to work out the negotiations (doesn’t mean it will be easier, but you will be supported);
- Freedom to consider creative approaches, that may not be available to you in Court.
- Assistance and representation by a lawyer and any other professionals (you choose to assist), that have been specifically trained in collaborative law; and
- Agreement to mutually agreeable solutions to family concerns on a short-term and long-term basis. This lends itself to strategic planning.
There are highly contentious situations where Court seems inevitable, but imagine the money that could be saved if couples could see past their immediate situations (hurt, lack of trust, just to name a couple) and focus on their futures and the futures of their children. You may be interested in Nigel’s article about the characteristics of a highly effective divorce. (Watch for the upcoming blog: The 7 Characteristics of Effective Divorce Settlements)
This approach to separation and divorce requires mature-committed participants and parents, that opt for this proven and amicable approach when restructuring their post-separation plans.
Kelly Caird, Office Manager