The overwhelming majority of separating spouses in Ontario do not realize that between 95 and 98% of all Ontario family law litigation ends with a settlement and not a trial. The fact is that your case will settle - it is a matter of when it settles and not if it settles. In my experience, the adversarial litigation process produces settlement because one or both of the parents become emotionally or financially bankrupt. The financial and emotional destruction through the adversarial litigation process is staggering. Collaborative practice puts the attention, the energy, the legal, financial, mental health and parenting expertise at the beginning of the process and maintains the goal of a mutually acceptable outcome as the sole purpose throughout all settlement discussions. Only you can decide which approach is best for you.
To borrow an expression from the late Professor James Macleod, “I have toiled in the vineyards of marital discontent” for over 22 years. I love kids and although I did not go to law school to help kids, I can honestly say that since I have been practicing family law, it has become my focus. My conclusion is that the best outcomes for children are the ones where their separated parents are a role model for their children on how to resolve disputes respectfully and with dignity.
The focus of collaborative practice is to identify each party’s “needs, goals and interests” and to work towards attaining those. In my view, the only way to achieve a long-term settlement is to make sure that the needs, goals and interests of both parties are being addressed.
One of the most important lessons that I have learned during my journey as a family law laywer is that only 15% of my time is spent dealing with issues that are legal in nature, while 85% is spent dealing with issues that involve parenting, mental health, substance abuse, and emotional and financial problems.
Collaborative practice allows me to work with other professionals (financial, parenting, mental health) to use my legal expertise to help separated spouses negotiate outcomes that meet the needs of their children and to move forward in their new lives in a healthy, positive way.
Erik E. Grinbergs Barrister and Solicitor, Collaborative Lawyer
37 Church St.
St. Catharines, ON