Separation and divorce are extremely stressful for a couple ending their marriage. When children are involved, it is even more upsetting. Unfortunately, divorce is not uncommon. According to Statistics Canada, 28,805 couples in Ontario divorced in 2005. Currently, it’s expected that 37.7% of marriages will end in a divorce before the 30th anniversary. An aggressive and long legal battle can emotionally scar all parties involved. There are alternatives to going to court that make the divorce process less damaging. They also tend to be less expensive and quicker than court battles.
A relatively new process to divorce is collaborative family law, which uses a team approach to assist spouses in resolving issues that must be resolved upon the end of a marriage. The collaborative “team” includes both spouses, their lawyers, and any other professionals they feel are needed (for example, financial experts and family specialists). Usually, lawyers are specially trained in collaborative family law in Ontario. This team approach is cost effective and efficient because the spouses have access to the right expertise at the right time.
In collaborative family law, separating spouses work together and control the process (rather than lawyers or a judge). If both parties agree to use the collaborative model, a Participation Agreement is signed by the spouses, their lawyers and any other professional members of the team. The spouses identify issues, generate options and choose solutions that meet the needs of both parties and their children. The collaborative family lawyers then draft a separation agreement based on the decisions.
The goal of collaborative family law is to assist separating spouses and their children to achieve the best possible outcome for all involved. It encourages mutual respect and emphasizes the needs of children. Through open communication, full and transparent financial disclosure, both parties address their concerns and interests. The collaborative approach keeps you in control of the process and keeps it out of the courts.
In the Greater Toronto –Greater Hamilton Area, call Diane Daly, a specially trained family lawyer, mediator and arbitrator with over 20 years’ experience. You can learn more about collaborative family law on her website: www.OakvilleLaw.ca.