Collaborative Law is a legal approach to resolve issues that arise during a divorce or separation, without going to court

How does it work?

  • a team consisting of a client and a Collaborative Law-trained lawyer (and, if desired and appropriate, one or more of the following: a divorce coach, child care specialist, financial advisor) works with the other party’s team to identify and negotiate resolution of issues
  • prior to beginning any discussion, both parties sign a Participation Agreement which sets out the way the teams will operate.
    It deals with

    • disclosure of all relevant documents
    • agreement not to go to court
    • the method to achieve open, free-flowing and safe communication during the process

What’s the end result?

You and your spouse or partner sign a comprehensive written agreement, drawn up by both lawyers. Prior to signing, you each get independent legal advice from your lawyer.
If children are involved, a Parenting Plan may be necessary. That plan can be incorporated into the agreement or stand alone.

Is Collaborative Law the right choice for me?

  • there is greater privacy about issues and relationship history
  • a solution reached by both has a greater chance of success than one imposed by the court
  • all resources are directed at developing solutions for your unique situation
  • the process recognizes there are emotional as well as legal issues involved
  • experts work with you both to determine the best approach for your situation, rather than acting as a “hired gun” for one party
  • you and your spouse or partner are in control of the decision-making
  • you have direct input into the solutions
  • the process is generally quicker than going to court
  • the process is generally less expensive than going to court
  • the process is designed to reduce the stress of conflict between couples
  • the process assists in a smoother transition for everyone

I’ve heard of Mediation. What is the difference between that and Collaborative Law ?

Collaborative Law   Mediation
– each party has a lawyer present at all
meetings to provide legal advice

(Note: Collaborative professionals are
skilled, trained mediators as well.)
  – the mediator is neutral, and cannot provide legal advice
– your lawyer assists you to express your
needs or concerns
  – your lawyer remains in the background.
The onus is on you and your spouse/ partner to negotiate.
– both parties agree not to have the matter
go to court
  – your spouse/partner can threaten to go to court
– requires complete financial disclosure   – financial disclosure may not be complete
– other team members with specialized
expertise are available to you
  – you have to find your own specialists if you require them

Why Not go to Court?

  • there are no certain outcomes when you go to court
  • a judge will decide on the legal issues but does not deal with anything else
  • you have no control over the decisions
  • the court setting is adversarial and confrontational, which intensifies the conflict between the parties
  • no-one “wins” in court
  • it can be difficult and costly to challenge court decisions
  • your children can be negatively affected by the conflict generated
  • it’s expensive
  • it can be a slow process

Why shouldn’t I choose Collaborative Law?

  • if your spouse or partner do not agree to use the collaborative approach
  • if you feel you would need a Court Order to ensure your spouse or partner would abide by the terms of the agreement

How much does it cost?

There is no set rate. Each case is unique. However, because the Collaborative Law lawyer and specialists are concentrating on finding solutions rather than preparing cases for court, the cost is generally less.
(The hourly rates of the lawyers and divorce coaches vary so please discuss this with your professional)

How long does it take?

Meetings can be 2 to 4 hours in duration and more than one meeting may be necessary.

What happens if one party decides not to continue using the Collaborative Law process?

The success rate for Collaborative Law cases is high. However, if either party decides to end the process, both lawyers must resign and can have no further involvement. Both parties must find new lawyers and start again.
Note: whatever has been discussed during the Collaborative process is confidential and cannot be used in court.

If I choose the Collaborative process, how do I get started?

Discuss the idea with your spouse or partner. It is helpful to refer to our website If both of you decide to proceed, independently contact a Collaborative professional. (Our members’ contact information is provided on our website.) They will explain in detail how the process works and answer any questions you have.