17th December 2009
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Collaborative Law – Part II

Collaborative Family Law – The ‘Pros’

I hinted at some of these in the first installment of this article. Since no two divorces are the same, the ‘pros’ of the collaborative family law approach do not always apply equally, but a good short list is as follows:

Reduced stress

For some clients, the knowledge that they won’t be ‘hauled into Court’ by their spouse on short notice is very comforting. As is the collaborative approach of four-way meetings – which are conducted in a mature and civil fashion, with your lawyer by your side.

Cost/time

Collaborative family lawyers are generally not permitted to suggest that collaborative family law is less costly than a “traditional” divorce. It is equally true, however, that the cost of litigation in the Court system can be very high. And so far as I am aware, there are no studies suggesting that collaborative divorces are concluded more quickly than “traditional” ones but, it is also true that litigation in the Court process involves timelines and, to some clients, delays that are frustrating by their very number and the length of time involved. What I can say is that, when the collaborative family law process works well, it can be less costly to both parties than litigation, and can see a final resolution in less time.

Control

One of the undeniable benefits of collaborative family law is that the parties ultimately have control over the decisions made and the resolution reached. In litigation, the parties will ultimately receive a decision handed to them by a Judge (barring any settlement between the parties, of course). This decision can often be to neither party’s complete satisfaction. In other words, when the Judge hands down his or her decision, you are likely to get some of what you want, and your spouse is probably going to get some of what they want. Collaborative family law, by contrast, offers the parties the ability to reach a conclusion that works for everyone.

A Brighter Future

In some “traditional” divorces, the parties can and do emerge on civil, if not friendly, terms with each other. Often, however, litigation helps to further alienate the parties from one another, and in some cases ensures that they will never be able to have a civil relationship with each other again. Again, while I am not able to say that on the whole parties emerge from a collaborative divorce with a better attitude towards one another than in a “traditional” divorce, my experience with both divorce litigation and collaborative family practice suggests to me that it is the collaborative approach that offers parties the best opportunity to have a healthy relationship with one another once the process is over.

This is a list of the main ‘pros’ of collaborative family law. By no means do any or all of these hold true in any individual situation, but they are factors worth considering when you are faced with divorce or separation and the problems that it brings. In the final installment of this article, I will look at some of the possible ‘cons’ of collaborative family law, so please watch for it!
Stephen C. Mogdan practices law in Lethbridge and Fort McMurray

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Written by Stephen Mogdan