When there are contentious issues on which divorcing British Columbia couples cannot come to agreements, alternative dispute resolution is pursued by many. The two available options are divorce mediation and collaborative law — each with its own legal intricacies. Both processes provide confidentiality that is not common to litigated divorces.
How does collaboration work? Each spouse, with their respective lawyers trained in the collaborative process, agrees to communicate and compromise where possible in conferences attended by all four parties. Each spouse must sign an agreement to participate according to the requirements of the collaborative law process. Obligations include collaborating with respect for each other and the desire to resolve issues.
Although each party will have his or her own legal representative, they may agree to use the services of joint advisors such as financial counselors, health and child professionals and more. The signed agreement will also state that neither party will consider or threaten litigation during the collaborative process. If it becomes evident that the collaborative process will not bring resolution, or if one of the spouses breaches the agreement of participation, both lawyers must withdraw. These lawyers may not participate in any litigation that follows, and both spouses will have to retain different legal counsel for future collaboration or litigation.
British Columbia couples who want to avoid time-consuming, expensive and traumatic litigation may benefit from consulting with their respective lawyers to gain knowledge about the available options. Both divorce mediation and collaborative law have pros and cons, and informed choices can only be made if all the facts are known. Whichever the chosen method, the support and guidance of seasoned divorce lawyers may be invaluable during this difficult time.
Source: FindLaw, “Collaborative Divorce: Overview“, Accessed on Nov. 11, 2016