Today, we explore the Best Collaborative Family Law Tips. Kaye Booth of our Calgary family law office provides MacLean Law’s best collaborative family law tips. MacLean Law’s senior Vancouver and Calgary collaborative family lawyers can help you resolve matters.
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When most people retain a lawyer to help them with their divorce, they picture a lengthy court battle, searing cross-examinations, loud objections, and a lot of conflict. Your experience with divorce does not have to be that way, however. The lawyers at MacLean Law are trained in collaborative law– processes such as negotiation and mediation – which can help reduce the amount of conflict and stress that your family experiences, as well as reduce legal costs. When parties agree to collaborate to find a solution, as opposed to using the adversarial process, they agree to act in good faith, prioritize the interests of the children, and try to understand the other parties’ perspective. Lawyers and clients can work together to come up with creative solutions that work for everyone involved. There can be many benefits to pursuing collaborative law as opposed to litigation if it is appropriate for the party’s legal needs.
5 Best Collaborative Family Law Tips
1. Happier Families
Separation or divorce can be incredibly stressful for families, and especially for children. Psychologists have found that divorce and conflict between parents can cause enormous stress to their children and mental health issues (Emery, E Robert, Interparental Conflict and the Children of Discord and Divorce, (1982) 92:2: Psy Bulletin) at 310). Parents know that when they are stressed or upset, children are sensitive to those feelings and mirror them. Litigation is a very stressful experience and is by its very nature adversarial and high conflict. As such, litigation has been found to exacerbate psychological issues in parties (Strasburger, LH, “The Litigant-Patient: Mental Health Consequences of Civil Litigation”, (1999) 27:2 J Am Acad Psychiatry Law 203). In mediation or negotiation, however, lawyers and clients work together to come to a solution that works for everyone. This can greatly reduce stress on the parties, and therefore the children. Collaborative law processes change the parties’ communication from argumentative to productive. Decreasing the stress and hostility of the legal process will in turn decrease the stress for your children, strengthening your bonds with them and building lifelong resilience.
2. More Control Over Outcome
At MacLean Law, we often tell our clients who are considering litigation that once they enter the courtroom, someone else is deciding for them. Lawyers present evidence, parties present their stories, and a judge determines each parties’ credibility to the best of their ability, applies the law, and renders a decision. In contrast, when you use a collaborative law process, you and the other party are making the decisions. You will likely have to compromise, but you will be in control of what compromises you can live with making. As such, it won’t be stranger making the decisions that will affect your family, but you and your ex-partner, who have more knowledge and insight into your family’s needs.
3. More Long-Lasting Results
Not only can mediation and negotiation help reduce conflict in the present moment, but it has also been shown to reduce conflict in the future. When parties work together to communicate effectively and respectively, their relationship is preserved and they can continue to work together as a family to look after the best interests of their children well into the future. Furthermore, when parties have come together to create a solution that works for both of them, they are far more likely to comply with that agreement, precisely because they were in the driver’s seat when that agreement was made.
4. Lower Legal Costs
Litigation can be very expensive and lengthy, and the total cost can be unpredictable. Not only will you pay for your representation, but you may need to pay for expert witnesses, trial materials, and even the other party’s legal costs if you do not get a decision in your favour. On the other hand, the time spent in collaborative law is directly related to concluding the dispute quickly and fairly. Because your lawyer is working fewer hours, your legal costs are significantly lower. You don’t need to spend money on trial preparation, applications, and filing fees. Instead, the costs you saved in avoiding litigation can be spent on your family and their future.
Mediation is entirely confidential. What you reveal during mediation will stay in mediation, and will not be used against you in future court processes. However, if you appear in court, your conflict will take place in the public sphere. Courts are open to the general public and court documents can be accessed by almost anyone. If the judge writes a decision on your issues, those issues will be available for anyone to read. Mediation and negotiation can keep your business where it belongs – in the family.
Vancouver Calgary Best Collaborative Family Law Tips
Not all cases are appropriate for collaborative law, especially where the bargaining positions of the two parties are unequal. However, less than 4% of divorces involve a trial of contested issues in open court, with the remaining 96% resolved through collaborative law (Hovius, Berend, Maur, Mary-Jo, and Bala, Nicholas, Family Law: Text, Cases, Materials and Notes, 9th edition (Toronto: Thomson Reuters, 2017) at 53). You need a competent and experienced lawyer who will work hard to keep you out of the courtroom, while still advocating for your needs. To read more on collaborative family law read this.
Contact MacLean Law’s ADR, mediation, and collaborative family lawyers today to retain us so you and your family can move forward as winners.