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  • Writer's pictureCaspar van Baal, LLB

6 Frequently Asked Questions about Collaborative Family Law

Over more than twenty-five years of practice, I have had extensive experience with family law matters in and out of court. If you are seeking to minimize conflict in your separation or divorce, non-court options are the way to go. Collaborative family law can help make your stressful situation less stressful. Taking a cooperative approach, spouses work with collaboratively trained lawyers and other professionals, such as psychologists and accountants, as required, to arrive at customized solutions to their family’s needs.

1. Do I need a lawyer to participate in the collaborative family law process?

Yes, both spouses are required to have a lawyer to help represent their interests and navigate the process, which is aimed at arriving at the best solution for all parties. Lawyers

2. How long does the collaborative process take?

A series of three meetings is common, but the time required is determined by the number of issues to be resolved (for instance, are there parenting questions to address? Is there a joint business?). If you and your partner agree on some or many issues, the process can be wrapped up relatively quickly – certainly more efficiently than pursuing a court-based option.

3. How much does it cost?

The cost of the process depends on several factors, including the number and complexity of issues to be resolved, and your lawyer’s rate and fees for additional expertise, as required, such as financial advice or counselling. Because the collaborative process is usually concluded more quickly, it is less expensive than pursuing an adversarial, court-based solution.

4. Is the outcome of the collaborative process binding?

A separation agreement achieved through the collaborative process is legally binding and can be enforced by the courts if necessary.

5. What if my spouse and I simply cannot agree?

If you and your spouse are not able to conclude a separation agreement, going to court remains an available option. You will need to find new counsel however, as the lawyer who represented you in the collaborative process cannot represent you at court on the same matter.

6. Is the collaborative process private?

Yes, as in other legal matters, your privacy is assured. Only those involved in your collaborative process will be privy to the issues and discussions.

Caspar van Baal is a lawyer and mediator practicing in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. He has been an active member of the Collaborative Family Law community for more than 10 years. For more information go to


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