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We asked Paul Slan, a lawyer and the Director of Professional Development at Gelman & Associates, some commonly asked questions about collaborative divorce in Ontario. Please be advised that these answers are not intended as legal advice, but rather as an introductory overview on a legal subject. For legal advice regarding collaborative divorce in Ontario, we recommend consulting with an Ontario family lawyer. Contact us today to schedule your consultation.

Collaborative Divorce in Ontario

Collaborative divorce is an alternative approach to settling the terms of a separation. In this model, both parties and their Ontario family lawyers agree to resolve all issues without going to Court. Because the goal is collaborative decision-making, options for resolving potential legal issues are typically discussed in the open, with both parties’ lawyers present for guidance throughout. 

If either party decides collaborative family law is no longer working, and voices a desire to go to Court, then both lawyers are required to cease representing their respective clients. The reason for this is to ensure a full commitment to the collaborative process. If the separating parties move their conflict to Court, they must each seek new representation.

Collaborative divorce can be less expensive and stressful than the process of litigation. Clients often prefer negotiated resolutions over outcomes imposed by the Court.

Contrasting Collaborative Divorce and Traditional Divorce

In a traditional divorce, the parties and their lawyers typically attempt negotiation before resorting to litigation, similar to a collaborative divorce. However, lawyers are not required to resign if negotiations fail. 

In a collaborative divorce, negotiation is the priority. Lawyers represent their respective clients’ best interest, but the overall goal is to come to mutually agreed-upon terms. In a traditional divorce, each lawyer prioritizes their client’s position, and engages in strategies to advance their client’s interests. This may or may not involve advantaging the other side.

Communications can likewise differ between a collaborative and traditional divorce. While a collaborative divorce involves the separating parties and their lawyers engaging in dialogue all together, the separating parties in a traditional divorce usually do not communicate directly, but only through their lawyers.

Is Collaborative Divorce Right for Me? 

For collaborative divorce to be suitable, both parties must be on an equal playing field without any domestic violence concerns or coercion. It is crucial that neither party takes advantage of the other during negotiations. If there are power imbalances or emotional distress, collaborative negotiation may not be the best option. Contact us today to discuss your particular situation and learn what may be right for you.

Professionals Involved in Collaborative Divorce 

A separation or divorce often involves negotiations concerning the division of property, as well as the payment of spousal or child support. In order to be able to make informed decisions, it is important that both parties provide an accurate overview of their circumstances. Depending on the specific issues at hand, various professionals may become involved in a collaborative divorce in order to clarify these circumstances.

Parenting issues may require involvement from social workers, psychologists, or psychiatrists who conduct investigations or assessments. Financial matters may involve the parties’ regular accountants for day-to-day affairs, or forensic accountants if there are concerns regarding business valuations or income reports. Real estate-related aspects may require the expertise of certified appraisers. 

How Long Does a Collaborative Divorce Take?

The duration of a collaborative divorce depends on the success of negotiations. Financial disclosure, often a prerequisite for negotiation, typically takes weeks or months. The negotiation process itself can range from one meeting to several meetings. The complexity of the issues determines the time frame, with simpler cases taking less time.

Contact Gelman & Associates for a Consultation on Collaborative Divorce in Ontario

If you would like to learn more, or discuss the specifics of your case involving a collaborative divorce, contact us at Gelman & Associates and schedule a consultation today. We have offices across Ontario in order to provide our clients with better access to justice.

Disclaimer: For specific legal advice on your family law matter, please consult with a family law lawyer. The content in this article is not intended to act as legal advice and is instead intended to act as a general overview of a legal topic.

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Law Society of Ontario
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York Region Law Association
Collaborative Practice Simcoe County
Law Association Simcoe County
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