Family Law... The Collaborative Family Law Option

Laura Kanaan – December 2015

What is Collaborative Law?

If you’ve separated from your spouse, choosing a dispute resolution process can be overwhelming. Many people have a desire to avoid court, but beyond that they have many questions about what process will best suit the needs of their family.

Collaborative family law can be an attractive option for families going through a separation who do not want to go to court. Many people have heard of collaborative law, but are unsure of what is involved.

Collaborative law is a method of settling issues following a separation.  It is facilitated by trained lawyers who assist participants in resolving conflict using cooperative strategies rather than adversarial techniques. Through a series of group meetings, lawyers and participants focus on identifying underlying interests and generating solutions that meet them.  Collaborative Family Law participants agree to negotiate an agreement without going to court.

Are you considering whether collaborative is right for you?  Here are a few benefits of collaborative law:

Collaborative law will focus on what matters to you, as well as what your children need. Collaborative professionals are training to explore what each party hopes for, what they are concerned about, and what will work best for the family unit. With this information, the collaborative professionals assist the family to develop personalized outcomes that ensure all parties’ needs are met.

Because the collaborative process is an out of court settlement process, the parties retain control over the how their information is disseminated. The proceeding does not become public record.  I’ve found this can be an attractive option for participants who have sensitive financial information, such as business owners.

Collaborative participants retain control over their outcomes. Participants and the collaborative professionals will generate a series of options that are tailored to meet the needs that each party has identified. This creates durable agreements that make sense to the participants.

Collaborative agreements are achieved through a series of team meetings. The timing of these meetings is set by the participants and their lawyers. This feature allows participants to move at a pace that works for them, rather than being constrained by external factors such as court availability.

Once an agreement is reached, the collaborative lawyers will prepare a legally binding agreement or divorce documents similar to those reached through traditional negotiation, mediation or the court process.

For more information, or to book a consult with a collaboratively trained lawyer, visit

Laura Kanaan is the President of the Association of Collaborative Professionals of Nova Scotia.  She believes the collaborative process is quickly gaining momentum in Nova Scotia and has assisted many clients in achieving agreements through this process.  She can be reached at MDW Law at

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