Expert Team

The Collaborative Lawyers

Collaborative Lawyers undergo extensive training and re-training to properly shape their techniques when it comes to resolving family disputes. Collaborative Lawyers consider court to be a last resort, and expertly develop their problem-solving skill sets rather than their courtroom skill sets.

Collaborative Lawyers approach family disputes with a different attitude and a lot of pragmatism. They do not do all of the negotiating and speaking for their clients; rather, they help their clients take charge of their own futures as equal participants in a facilitated and organized negotiation process.

Collaborative Lawyers have undergone a “paradigm shift” and approach their job in a way that is quite distinct from typical family lawyers. Beware of imitators, as not all family lawyers are Collaborative Lawyers.


The Divorce Coaches

Collaborative Divorce is designed to be emotionally supportive, unlike going to court. Divorce Coaches, who are generally Registered Clinical Counsellors or psychologists specially trained in the dynamics of family conflict, are an invaluable resource for management of emotions and stress.

The parties to a divorce are often at different points on the “timeline” of grief and this can act as a barrier to the settlement process. Lawyers are not specifically trained to deal with this barrier but Divorce Coaches are. Their participation in the process allows the lawyers to do their job more effectively and this greatly reduces costs. (Why pay a lawyer twice the hourly rate as a counsellor charges to do counselling work that he or she is not really qualified to do?)

Divorce Coaches help parties explore their emotions, learn skills to make communication constructive, design Parenting Plans, and inform about children’s needs during divorce or separation.

Divorce Coaches do not conduct “couples therapy” during the Collaborative Divorce. They are also not trying to encourage reconciliation if the decision to end a relationship has been made. They assist a party emotionally move toward a settlement, that is, until the Collaborative Divorce reaches a successful conclusion. At that point, the party’s relationship with the Divorce Coach normally comes to an end. If further support is desired, the party is referred to another professional for additional therapeutic services.


The Child Specialists (Neutral)

The views of children can be very helpful to divorcing parents. If children’s true opinions and feelings can be brought to the negotiating table in a calm and collected way, disputes can be resolved more efficiently than if parents are left guessing about what is in their children’s minds.

Child Specialists focus exclusively on children. They meet with children and offer them a safe place and time to tell their sides of the story. After assessing the children’s needs and concerns, the Child Specialist can report back to the Collaborative Team in a neutral and unbiased way.

The Child Specialist is primarily concerned with children’s development, temperament and relationship to family members during the separation and divorce process. The Child Specialist assesses the children’s reactions, worries, hopes, fears and needs and neutrally brings that information to the Collaborative Team to shape the settlement between the divorcing parents.


The Financial Specialists (Neutral)

Divorce is often about money. If not itself the cause of a marriage breakdown, money can certainly prolong a divorce process as parties dispute how they will divide their assets and debts.

Normally a Certified Financial Planner, Investment Advisor or Accountant, the Financial Specialist offers varied perspectives applying projections and models to determine what a family’s future might look like under any proposed settlement or budget.

Financial Specialists can also help gather financial information, level the playing field by educating a party with less financial knowledge, identify tax issues and minimize tax liabilities, create suitable temporary and long-term budgets reflecting new financial realities, assemble retirement plans and assist with debt repayment schedules.

Depending on the situation, parties might need a Financial Specialist with different expertise. For example, if taxes are owed, a Chartered Accountant can help. Or, if a family business is at stake, a Chartered Business Valuator can value it for the purposes of division. Each case will determine the specific Financial Specialist to be used.

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