What is Collaborative Law?


Collaborative law is a dispute resolution process, facilitated by trained lawyers who assist participants in resolving conflict using cooperative strategies rather than adversarial techniques. Through a series of group meetings, lawyers and participants focus on identifying underlying interests, generating solutions that meet them.  Collaborative Family Law participants agree to negotiate an agreement without going to court.




Working with a collaborative professional

Collaborative professionals are trained members of the Association of Collaborative Professionals of Nova Scotia. Participants sign a Participation Agreement that outlines the parameters of the process, including a commitment to negotiate without a court proceeding.  Through a series of group meetings, collaborative professionals use an interest-based approach to identify the individual needs of each participant and the family.  The parties generate a series of options, with a view to identifying which solution best meets the needs of the individual participants, and their family. Agreements reached in the collaborative process are legally binding and drafted by lawyers.


A team-based approach

In many cases, it is most effective to involve professionals with expertise in other areas, such as financial and family professionals.  These individuals act as neutral parties in the process.

Lawyers: The lawyers act advocates for their clients, and facilitate an interest based negotiation.

Financial neutrals: Financial professionals facilitate gathering and understanding financial information from both participants.  Financial neutrals help parties to understand implications of financial decisions, such tax and cash flow, and identify the value of assets and businesses.

Family professionals:  These professionals work with participants to articulate and prioritize concerns, facilitate meaningful communication, and manage emotional aspects of separation. They can assist parents in developing their plan for how to parent after separation.


What if a settlement cannot be reached?

To encourage investment in the process, participants sign a contract preventing them from using their collaborative lawyers in any court proceeding.  This facilitates meaningful dialogue by eliminating the threat of going to court.   In rare cases, participants are unable to reach a settlement on some or all issues.  When this occurs, the parties retain new lawyers if the matter proceeds to court.


Next Steps

Take some time to consider if Collaborative Family Law might be the right approach for you.

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Some Important Points to Consider:

  • The Participation Agreement includes a commitment not to begin a court proceeding.

  • Collaborative family law respects relationships.

  • Collaborative family law safeguards participants’ privacy, because proceedings are not public record.

  • Collaborative family law gives participants control over the pace of their process.

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