Our Process

Overview

The Victoria Collaborative Family Separation Professionals (CFSP) are a group of independent professionals, including counsellors, psychologists, social workers, accountants, chartered business valuators, certified financial planners, and lawyers, who have chosen and been trained to work together in the collaborative process.  Our mission statement is:

“We encourage and promote a new process to create positive solutions for people in conflict and families in transition.”

Collaborative Family Law is a process in which the parties, their lawyers, and other professionals who are part of their collaborative team, agree in writing to work together to create agreements that resolve the issues arising out of the parties’ separation. No one will go to court or use threats of court.

Instead, we work to create solutions that address the values and goals of both parties and their children. The sole objective is to reach an efficient, fair and comprehensive settlement of all issues. The parties choose to use collaborative professionals including financial advisors, psychologists, counsellors, child specialists and lawyers in a holistic approach to their family’s needs.

How do we collaborate?

The collaborative process is a team process. This means that this process can be accessed through an initial contact with any of the professionals in our group, whether this person is a lawyer, a divorce coach, a child specialist or a financial specialist. We have found that people seeking information on how to separate can come to us through different doors, depending on their primary concerns. From there, we help spouses build their collaborative team, comprised of those professionals that can best support them in addressing their particular issues. Each spouse will have to retain a collaborative lawyer, whose role is critical in helping a couple to negotiate their separation agreement, but the couple will also have the expertise of other professionals on the team to work on such aspects as a financial settlement, or a parenting plan. At the first collaborative team meeting, the spouses will sign a Collaborative Participation Agreement with their lawyers and the rest of their professional team. They will commit to sharing information openly, to negotiating in good faith, and to agree not to go to court. At this meeting, their goals and interests will be identified, as well as the particular issues and challenges which need to be addressed. The meeting concludes with the couple having a “road map” of their separation process, in which they have an understanding of which professionals will work with them on which issues, and when they can anticipate pulling all their work together in the form of a legal separation agreement.

In subsequent meetings, the spouses will work together in turn with their lawyers and divorce coaches in a 4-way meeting format, to address each of their identified goals. Divorce coaches may address concerns such as decision-making, communication skills, co-parenting challenges, and protocols for resolving conflicts. Divorce coaches also work individually with the parties to offer emotional support, build skills essential to co-parenting, or assist them with identified goals in moving forward with their lives. At times, the couple may meet with their lawyers and coaches together in reaching settlements, or with their lawyers and their neutral financial specialist. The financial advisor can value a business, consider division of assets, provide advice on sharing income, pensions and insurance, and other financial issues.

The parties may also retain a child specialist, whose role is to represent the interests and needs of the couples’ children. The child specialist can meet with the children and parents to assist the parents with post-separation parenting arrangements. A child specialist is a neutral party who will listen to the children in an unbiased manner and with the children’s permission, communicate the children’s views to the parents. The child specialist can advise on parenting that is age-appropriate and will best meet the specific needs of the children. The child specialist attends 4 way meetings with the coaches and the parents to assist with developing a parenting plan for the children, and may also attend meetings with the coaches and lawyers as required.

What are the benefits of the collaborative process?
  • You don’t go to court.
  • Your feelings and values are honoured and respected.
  • The process is open and transparent. Each party puts his or her cards on the table and negotiates in good faith.
  • Each participant must be mindful of both spouses’ interests and goals, understanding that any agreement must meet the needs of both spouses.
  • The process is confidential and private. Disclosed information is protected by the terms of the Collaborative Participation Agreement.
  • The parties have access to well-trained and caring professionals with specialized skills including divorce coaches, financial advisors, child specialists and lawyers.
  • There is no winner and no loser. We work together to reach agreements that satisfy both spouses.
  • The process encourages communication and conflict resolution.
  • Collaboration is the best process to create lasting and cooperative parenting arrangements.
  • The process can be cheaper and faster than going to court.
  • You have more control of the time frame and cost of the process.
  • If you qualify for Legal Aid, it may pay for part of the process.
  • Your employee assistance plan or extended health insurance may cover part of the divorce coach or child specialist services.
  • The collaborative process and professionals may be used in the future, if necessary, as children’s needs change or other issues arise.
Is the collaborative process right for me?

Collaboration may be the right process for your situation if you can answer “Yes” to most of the following questions:

  • Are you willing to cooperate with your spouse to resolve financial and parenting issues arising from your separation?
  • Do you want to improve communication with your spouse, especially over matters involving your children?
  • Do you want to avoid the expense and animosity of court?
  • Are you looking for a process that respects your values?
  • Are there positive aspects of your relationship with your spouse that you want to preserve?
  • Do you want to have some choice over the process of reaching an agreement?
  • Do you want the outcome to be decided by you and your spouse, rather than a judge?

If you think collaboration might be right for you, but have questions regarding your circumstances, or want to learn more about the process, get started below. We’ll send you more information on collaborative law and can put you in touch with a professional.