What Is Collaborative Family Law?
Collaborative family law is a method of resolving disputes that takes place outside of the court system, in which both parties to the dispute work together with their family lawyers to arrive at a resolution.
The first step in resolving a family law issue collaboratively is to try to come to an agreement by negotiating through lawyers. If parties are not able to reach an agreement through negotiations alone, they can enter into the mediation/arbitration process in lieu of going to court to litigate their issue(s).
Collaborative Divorce Lawyers in Brampton
At Tailor Law, we appreciate the sensitivity and care required in dealing with your Collaborative Divorce matter. Our law firm works hard to approach your Collaborative Divorce matter with the sensitivity and expertise that is required. Both parties involved often have different perceptions of what is fair, making the entire process of reaching an agreement stretch out for seemingly forever. Differing incomes and roles in the family can make an equal financial split messy and confusing. Moreover, children can often be lost in the constant mess of everything going on. Our Collaborative Divorce Lawyers in Brampton are dedicated to bringing a resolution that is in your best interest and helps you as well as any children involved move forward.
What Is Mediation?
Mediation is a process in which both parties and their lawyers meet to work out a settlement with the help of a neutral third party who is experienced in family law. The mediator may be a senior lawyer or other appropriate person recommended by the court or decided by both parties. Each lawyer will ask for personal and financial disclosure from opposing counsel before the mediation date so that all of the required information will be available at the mediation. This is one of the methods used in Collaborative Divorce Law to help parties settle their matter outside of the court.
What Is Arbitration?
Arbitration is another form of negotiations that is used in Collaborative Divorce Law. If the parties are unable to arrive at a settlement agreement through mediation, the process will shift into arbitration. In this case, the neutral third party is referred to as an arbitrator, who will hear evidence and arguments from both sides and make a legally binding decision. The arbitrator acts kind of like a judge, enforcing procedural rules, legal rights and obligations, and decorum.
If mediation can resolve some but not all of the issues on the table, an agreement can be made that sets out the agreed-upon settlement and states that the remaining issues are to be decided through arbitration.
How Does The Mediation/Arbitration Process Work?
The power of the arbitrator to make a binding decision comes from the arbitration agreement. This legal contract sets out the parties’ responsibilities to the process, as well as the content and scope of the questions that can be decided by the arbitrator. A similar agreement will precede mediation, setting out the obligations of the parties, including the obligation to negotiate in good faith. These agreements must be signed by both parties and witnessed. They must also state whether they are governed exclusively by Ontario law.
When a resolution is reached, whether, through mediation or arbitration, the parties will sign a binding settlement agreement laying out the details of the resolution and what they will mean for each party.
Often, a separation agreement will include a clause requiring that any future disputes regarding the terms of the agreement shall be settled by way of mediation/arbitration. This prevents further litigation in court regarding issues that have already been legally resolved, as any changes to the agreement must be decided through mediation or arbitration.
It is possible, however, for the court to find such a clause invalid for reasons such as:
- A finding that one of the parties signed the agreement under duress;
- A finding that there is a power imbalance between the parties;
- The failure of a party to make relevant financial disclosure;
- A finding that mediation/arbitration would not be in the best interests of a child; and
- One of the parties did not comprehend the nature and effect of the agreement.
Why Is Mediation/Arbitration Often A Better Option Than Litigation?
Whether entered into voluntarily or by virtue of an agreement, this process is a far cheaper way to resolve a dispute, both in terms of the fees paid by the parties, and the strain put on court resources.
Also, bringing the resolution of issues out of the courtroom can serve to de-escalate the conflict, as the lawyers involved may be able to facilitate a more cordial and productive meeting. Mediation/Arbitration is a more private method of resolving conflicts, which can lessen parties’ fear of embarrassment or other negative feelings associated with exposing personal and financial details.
Searching For The Best Collaborative Divorce Lawyers in Brampton?
If you are seeking assistance with your Collaborative Divorce matter you can call Tailor Law today to get help from our trained Lawyers in Brampton who can help you navigate through the whirlwind of paperwork and emotions that come with deciding how to proceed.
If you have questions about your Collaborative Divorce matter or what assistance with Independent Legal Advice please call us today to set up an appointment to speak with one of our Lawyers.