Welland County Law Association

Niagara Collaborative Law Group

An Introduction to Collaborative Family Law

What is Collaborative Family Law?

Collaborative Family Law is a cooperative, voluntary conflict resolution alternative for separating families. The participants, which include both the parties and their lawyers, share the belief that it is in the best interests of the family to make the commitment that they will avoid adversarial proceedings. The parties and their lawyers work together to find shared solutions for the family.

The goal of Collaborative Law

The participants commit to minimize, if not eliminate, the emotional and financial impact of litigation on families and direct their efforts towards a just result that is achieved when solutions are built on the underlying interests of the family and all its members.

Resolution without the litigation option

Both the parties and their lawyers enter into a written agreement that they will settle issues of disagreement without court intervention. In the event that either party commences a court action, or reinstates court proceedings, both lawyers and their law firms must withdraw.

How it works

The process requires full and open disclosure of financial and other documents requested. The negotiations are held in settlement conferences with the clients and their lawyers present. The discussions are informal with the lawyers acting in a dual role. They are there to assist their own clients to reach a shared solution by ensuring that their rights are represented but it is also their role to assist both parties in understanding their underlying interests. The goal of collaborative law is to provide the parties with a transparent series of meetings where nothing happens behind the scenes. It is a full partnership in solution building.

What about experts and consultants?

As part of the participation contract signed by the parties and their lawyers, it is agreed that any third parties, whose expertise is required to assist in reaching informed solutions, will be jointly retained.

What kind of training is required?

There is no uniform standard across the United States or in Canada as to how lawyers are trained in order to be most effective in collaborative lawyering. However, most jurisdictions agree that some mediation training is useful, if not mandatory, and that specific training in Collaborative Law is a requirement. Local associations may also require training in interest-based negotiations and communications and are free to set their own standards for membership.

More information is available online through the website maintained by the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (I.A.C.P.)

See also:



Contact any member of the Niagara Collaborative Law Group:

Ron Adams Seaway Mall, Welland 905-735-0181
Erik Grinbergs 55 King Street, St. Catharines 905-688-9800
Wendy MacPherson 4401 Huron Street, Niagara Falls 905-354-1611
Rod McDowell 29 Jarvis Street, Fort Erie 905-871-4440
Margaret Opatovsky 190 Elm Street, Port Colborne 905-835-1163
Joseph Sloniowski 170 Division Street, Welland 905-734-4577
James Stengel 170 Division Street, Welland 905-734-4577
Michael Stratton 80 King St., Suite 800, St. Catharines 905-732-4477

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