“Collaboration” is defined by the Canadian Oxford Compact Dictionary as to “work jointly”, to “cooperate … with…”
The Collaborative Divorce/Separation Process is a settlement approach for resolving areas in dispute in a divorce or separation. In the family law context, spouses who use the Collaborative Process are in charge of their negotiations. They control the way in which their dispute will be resolved. Each spouse retains a Collaborative Lawyer and, together, they build the Collaborative ‘team’ that will suit their needs in working towards the resolution of their divorce or separation.
The most obvious members of the ‘team’ are the client, and the Collaborative lawyer, but they may be other members of the ‘team’ that may be chosen depending on the circumstances and complexity of those circumstances. The intention of having multiple team members, also known as a ‘multidisciplinary team’, is to simplify the complexity of the case and streamline the plan towards resolution.
Each member of the team will sign a Participation Agreement* which governs the team. One of the central terms of the Participation Agreement is that neither spouse can use the Court system (unless it is agreed such as applying to obtain a divorce). Progress is made in the Collaborative Process through informal meetings involving the Collaborative Lawyers, the couple, and other members that may be selected for the ‘team’. These include Collaborative Coach*, and in appropriate circumstances, a Financial Specialist.
The Professional Team
The Collaborative Lawyers
A Collaborative Lawyer is a lawyer with special training who is committed to working jointly and cooperatively with their client and the other Collaborative Lawyer and their client. The Collaborative Lawyer understands that arriving at a long term durable Agreement that will suit both spouses and their family requires active participation, discussion and input from both spouses. Each spouse has a valuable contribution to the end result and their concerns and values need to be heard and considered.
Each Collaborative Lawyer has taken extensive training. To be a member of the Okanagan Collaborative Family Law Group, each member has taken at least one 2 to 3 day Collaborative training, as well 3 to 5 days of mediation training. Many Collaborative lawyers have taken a number of Collaborative, mediation and settlement focused courses and trainings.
To date, I have taken 4 courses or training sessions that were 2 to 3 days in duration each in Collaborative training in 2001, 2003, 2010 and 2011.
As a member and Director of the Okanagan Collaborative Family Law Group (www.collaborativefamilylaw.ca), I have been involved in the planning for our annual Retreat which provides specialized training for the unique circumstances of clients and lawyers of Collaborative practice in the Okanagan.
I am also a Director and Charter Member of the British Columbia Collaborative Roster Society (www.bccollaborativerostersociety.com) and look forward to the privilege of working more closely with Collaborative professionals from across the province and the additional training opportunities that may become available through this Society.
The reality is that my training and learning will never end. The day it does end is the day I should stop practicing law. Every client and every family is unique and that uniqueness needs to be understood, respected and preserved as much as possible. For this to be accomplished, the Collaborative Lawyer needs to listen and hear what is important to not only their client, but also to their client’s spouse. A truly durable and lasting Agreement is one that works for all members of the family.
The Collaborative Coach * (Divorce Coach or Communication Specialist)
The Collaborative Divorce Coach may be a Registered Psychologist, Registered Clinical Counselor, Canadian Clinical Counselor, Master of Social Work/Registered Social Worker, or Licensed Marriage Family Therapist. Each Collaborative Coach has taken or committed to taking Collaborative and mediation training. The Collaborative Coach meets with one or both spouses (as determined by the spouses themselves or in conjunction with their Collaborative Lawyers). The Collaborative Coach assists the Collaborative Lawyers and the spouses to manage and appropriately address the emotional levels of the participants involved in the Collaborative Process.
In my experience, we all expect a family law matter to involve a legal component (what we consider in resolving a dispute). We also expect a family law matter to involve a process component (the way in which to resolve a dispute). What most do not expect or, if it is expected, what is often ignored or given little attention, is the emotional component (how one feels and how those feelings affects the resolution of a dispute).
Collaborative Coaches are trained and experienced to identify the source of the emotional component and assist in dealing with it in a way that allows the resolution to be achieved.
* Divorce Coach is the term used internationally to describe the role of this integral member of the Collaborative Process. The Okanagan Collaborative Family Law Group recognizes this international status but has customized the term to better suit the local nature for our clients and potential clients.
The Financial Specialist
The Financial Specialist is a Chartered Accountant, Certified General Accountant, Chartered Management Accountant, Chartered Business Valuator, or Certified Financial Planner. In the Collaborative Process, the Collaborative Lawyers and the spouses jointly decide if and when to retain the Financial Specialist to assist in making decisions and to understand strategies to maximize the retention of assets and income for both spouses and their family.
Get In Touch
If someone you know or love is going through a separation or divorce, I look forward to assisting in making this difficult time be as smooth and seamless as possible. It is possible!
Please contact Bev today at
250-763-7333 or 250-769-7787