WHY COLLABORATIVE FAMILY LAW FOR DIVORCE? OR RATHER – WHY WOULD YOU DO IT ANY OTHER WAY?
By the time a couple has decided it is time for divorce, there has already been trauma in the relationship. Fractures in communication, respect and understanding are only some aspects of what may bring a couple to the point of deciding to end their relationship formally.
Unfortunately, the preparations for divorce, more often than not, can exacerbate the issues that led to the rupture in the first place, making the process extremely uncomfortable. In addition, the length, cost and complexity of litigation in court can exhaust emotional and financial resources very quickly. Collaborative divorce in Edmonton offers a structured way of ensuring that the divorce process does not do further damage to the relationship. On the contrary, the goal is to ensure clients come out of the process well-equipped to go through the divorce, and go forward in their individual lives in the future, while communicating effectively and considerately.
HISTORY OF COLLABORATIVE FAMILY LAW
In 1990, Stu Webb, a family law practitioner in Minneapolis, Minnesota announced to his clients and colleagues that he would no longer go to court; he would only represent clients in a participatory negotiation process aimed solely at creative settlements. If the process could not result in settlement, Stu would refer his clients to litigation counsel and withdraw from the matter. This was the start of the collaborative family law movement which quickly spread to Canada.
COLLABORATIVE FAMILY LAW IN ALBERTA
Collaborative lawyers in Alberta commit to a rigorous training program, including on-going professional development. The training focuses on ensuring that lawyers are able to use highly structured, interest-based negotiation techniques to move clients away from positional arguments and towards constructive resolutions. The goal is to have both lawyers and both clients work cooperatively to resolve issues of parenting, support and property in a way that is respectful and efficient.
At Gunn Law Group, we are strong advocates for the inter-disciplinary approach advocated by our regional and provincial collaborative associations, the Association of Collaborative Family Professionals (Edmonton) and the Collaborative Divorce Alberta Association respectively. We recognize that sometimes there are imbalances in a relationship. One person may be more used to parenting or the other has most of the financial literacy in the relationship. With an inter-disciplinary approach, we can bring in the assistance of family coaches, neutral financial experts, psychologists etc. to ensure that all of the needs of the family are met as we go through the process, without adding substantially to the cost.
COLLABORATIVE FAMILY LAW AT GUNN LAW GROUP
All of our lawyers who practice in family law are collaboratively trained. However, we have also all, at one time or another, represented clients in divorce cases resolved through litigation. So we speak from experience when we say we know, without hesitation, that collaborative is the better approach to take.
SHANNON GUNN EMERY WROTE ABOUT A COLLABORATIVE FILE THAT SHE HAD IN 2018:
The client contacted me in February, opened a file soon after and by July we had already received the divorce judgment. It was a far more efficient and respectful process than any litigation files I have had. Our clients always remained fully committed to the process and to being courteous with each other. I was glad to work alongside Sid Kobewka, who represented my client’s spouse. Sid brought experience, sensitivity and a sense of humor to the proceedings which were always appreciated.
REBECCA CUTHBERTSON HULST’S TESTIMONIAL TO THE PROCESS IS SUMMED UP BELOW:
The Courts are open to the public. Many people do not wish their painful experiences to be aired like underclothes drying on a line. You may have delicate issues you wish to keep private or business finances that you wish to remain confidential. If so, Collaborative Law is your safest option for reaching a fair, amicable, and private resolution of your family law issues.
Finally, Carmen Boucher wrote about some of her experiences which prompted her to choose the collaborative family model as her preferred way of settling divorces:
I have had the pleasure of working with lawyers who practice Collaborative Family Law, some of whom also litigate. What has struck me the most when comparing the two processes is the effect on the people involved? Almost without fail, the people who successfully complete a Collaborative process are satisfied with the outcome and are focused on the future, whereas the litigation route tends to overwhelm and exhaust participants; they are rarely pleased with the outcome, even if they are the ones who were “more” successful at the end of the very long road. The Collaborative Family Law process really works – I have seen it!
In 2019, we hope couples who are looking at divorcing choose collaborative family law to resolve their issues. The lawyers at Gunn Law Group are committed to providing you with an efficient, respectful experience that leaves you in a strong position for the future. Contact us today at 780-488-4460.