The Family Law Attorney and Collaborative Practice

Should you choose to work toward an amicable separation or divorce using the collaborative practice process, you will need to find a family law professional that is a collaborative practice member in Niagara. Lawyers must meet specific requirements to be equipped to practice in a collaborative setting.

If you are not familiar with collaborative practice, understand the goal is to maximize the settlement options to both parties, to increase the abilities of families to communicate in a post-separation relationship, and to minimize, if not eliminate, the negative economic, social and emotional consequences to families that are experiencing separation or divorce.

The essence of the collaborative practice agreement and process is the belief that it is in the best interests of the separating or divorcing parties and their families to avoid adversarial proceedings, to resolve their differences with minimum conflict, and to work together to create shared solutions to the issues.

The key elements of Collaborative Practice are:

  1. Both parties voluntarily and freely exchange information and agree not to go to court.
  2. A respect for each other with a commitment to work toward shared goals for a positive resolution.

In the collaborative process, family law professionals play a major role in your collaborative team. In many cases, your lawyer will work with other collaborative members including financial or family professionals depending on your unique circumstances.

For a lawyer to be considered a collaborative practice law professional they must have Level 1 and 2 CP training; be a member in good standing of the Law Society of Ontario, having earned their LL.B. or J.D.; and have errors and omissions insurance coverage of at least $1 million. You can find a complete list of family collaborative practice lawyers for St. Catharines, Niagara Falls, Welland, Fort Erie, and surrounding Niagara Regions here:

The Collaborative Family Lawyer

Though Collaborative Practice seeks to avoid going to court, the settlement is still a legal agreement. Therefore, it is essential a lawyer be involved to advise you on all matters of law, from child custody and support to maintenance agreements to financial settlements and property distribution. Collaborative lawyers have made a commitment to the unique practice of the collaborative model.*

What does this actually mean?

In traditional separation or divorce proceedings, all negotiations are typically communicated through your lawyers, resulting in going to court for the settlement and often at a higher expense to both parties in payment to the lawyers and other professionals involved.   Each lawyer fights to win, rather than working toward a mutually created settlement.

With the collaborative model,  your team of specialists (lawyer, financial and family) educate and assist both parties on how to effectively communicate with each other, develop a timetable, and communicate directly with the assistance of your team to avoid court and develop a mutually agreed upon settlement for all involved.

For further information download the Collaborative Practice Knowledge Kit. Here you will find more information about the process and examples of how the collaborative practice brought about a better resolution with less expense.

Here is just one example:

When the couple used Collaborative Practice to end a 16-year marriage, their team included lawyers, a child psychologist and a financial specialist. Their team guided them to a fair financial arrangement for the children by helping them keep everyone’s needs in perspective. Years after the divorce, the couple still calls each other every week to update one another on the children’s past week.*

To begin the process:

Learn more about the collaborative process, read the roadmap provided here.  Talk to collaborative practice professionals in your area if you have questions. Should you decide the Collaborative Practice process is right for you and your family, both parties involved will need to enlist the assistance of a CP lawyer each and possibly financial and family specialists depending on your unique circumstances.

Your collaborative team will guide you and support you to solve the issues and determine the best solution. The team works with you, not against you.


*International Academy of Collaborative Professionals

Note: Not all lawyers, financial professionals and health and family advisors are certified and trained in collaborative team practice services.