The Collaborative process is a constructive, respectful and client-focused alternative to a court-based process. It is one in which the parties and their lawyers commit to coming to an agreement without going to court, to making full, transparent disclosure, and to negotiating respectfully with each other.
Each party is represented by his or her own lawyer, and decisions get made jointly in “team” meetings.
The Team Approach
The team is made up of two lawyers, a Financial Professional and a family professional. Collaborative family lawyers, financial professionals and family professionals must be specially trained in this unique area.
All parties to any family matter must be fully informed before making any decisions that will affect their children or their financial future. It is often a lack of information that prevents party's from moving forward to come to an agreement.
In a traditional negotiation, or in a litigation process, it is common for each party to work with an expert who will provide an opinion on such things as the value of a house or a business, or stock options, or the parenting arrangement that would be in the children’s best interests. At the end of the day it is not uncommon for parties and their lawyers to be left with two different expert opinions. In a Collaborative process we use neutral experts, selected by both parties with the help of their lawyers.
The Family Professional assists with managing the strong emotions in the process and the issues that would help create a strong parenting plan. The professional may also assist with communication protocols; working through schedules and the many parenting issues that arise when parents separate. They support in helping the separating couple with all things child and family related, including facilitating and improving communication.
Financial professionals help provide neutral financial information, including information on optimizing tax savings for the family, valuation of assets, and projections and plans to help each party reach their financial goals.
The cost of these neutral professionals is shared but he parties.
For more information on the Collaborative process, and for a list of Collaborative professionals who work in this area, please see the following links:
Peel Halton Collaborative Practice Group www.peelcollaborative.com