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Ontario collaborative family law a joint cooperative effort

The current model of alternative dispute resolution -- that is, reaching a mutually satisfying agreement peaceably, outside the courts -- probably originated in the distant past when two warring factions decided to forgo the bloodbath and find common ground instead. Similarly, marriage is based on commonality, which doesn't magically vanish when an Ontario couple decides to divorce. This is where collaborative family law can provide a potentially less forbidding path through the emotional and legal tangle entailed by a formal divorce.

Collaborative family law accommodates the desire of both parties to avoid wrangling, and along with their respective lawyers, work cooperatively. In addition to each party retaining counsel, resource people, such as financial professionals, are also on hand to help solve all material issues collectively. This access to a range of skilled advisors may help reduce stress and promote clearer communication.

No area of family law is excluded from discussions held in a collaborative family law process. There need not be bloodshed. From child custody and access, to spousal support and financial disclosure and partition, each party's legal counsel will work cooperatively to ensure consensus on each issue.

It is important to note, however, that if the collaboration falls through, the lawyers will withdraw from representation and will not represent the client in the ensuing divorce litigation. If both parties follow through, on the other hand, a separation agreement will be prepared to present to an Ontario family court for approval. The experience of a family law practitioner well-versed in collaborative family law might be beneficial to a client seeking an evolved path toward a fresh start.

Source: findlaw.ca, "What is alternative dispute resolution?", Accessed on Dec. 5, 2017

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