Collaborative Practice

Collaborative Divorce in Ontario: Process, Differences, and Considerations

Written by Russell Alexander / (905) 655-6335

As of 2024, collaborative divorce has become an increasingly popular option for couples in Ontario seeking an amicable separation. This approach focuses on negotiation and cooperation between both parties, with the support of their respective lawyers and, often, other professionals. Understanding the collaborative divorce process, how it differs from traditional divorce, and the key considerations involved can help couples determine if this path is right for their situation.

Understanding Collaborative Divorce

  1. The Collaborative Team: In addition to each party having a lawyer, the collaborative process may involve other neutral professionals such as financial advisors, child specialists, and mental health counselors. All team members are committed to a non-adversarial approach to divorce.
  2. Participation Agreement: Both parties and their lawyers sign a ‘participation agreement,’ which outlines the rules of the process, including open communication, respect, and a pledge not to go to court. If the process breaks down, both lawyers are disqualified from representing either party in court.
  3. Interest-Based Negotiations: Unlike traditional negotiations which often involve positional bargaining, collaborative divorce focuses on understanding and addressing the underlying interests, needs, and concerns of each party.

The Collaborative Process

  1. Joint Meetings: The process typically involves a series of joint meetings where both parties and their lawyers (and sometimes other professionals) discuss the issues at hand, exchange information, and work toward a settlement.
  2. Open Communication: A hallmark of collaborative divorce is its emphasis on honest and open communication. Both parties agree to share all relevant information and to communicate respectfully.
  3. Problem-Solving: The collaborative team works together to identify issues, generate options, and find solutions that work for the entire family. This often involves creative problem-solving tailored to the family’s unique needs.

Differences from Traditional Divorce

  1. No Court Involvement: One of the fundamental differences is the commitment not to go to court. This changes the dynamic from one of adversaries to one of cooperative problem-solvers.
  2. Team Approach: Collaborative divorce often involves a broader team of professionals, making it a more holistic process that can address a wide range of legal, financial, and emotional issues.
  3. Control and Privacy: Couples have more control over the outcome and the pace of the process. Additionally, unlike court proceedings, the collaborative process is private.

Key Considerations

  1. Willingness to Cooperate: Collaborative divorce is best suited for couples who are willing to work together openly and respectfully. It’s less likely to succeed in high-conflict situations or where there is a significant power imbalance.
  2. Cost: While collaborative divorce can be more cost-effective than a contentious court battle, it can be more expensive than a straightforward uncontested divorce due to the team of professionals involved.
  3. Finding the Right Professionals: Ensuring that you have the right team is crucial. Your lawyer and any other professionals involved should be specifically trained in collaborative law.


Collaborative divorce offers a respectful, cooperative approach to ending a marriage that can minimize conflict and focus on finding the best outcomes for the entire family. As of 2024, it continues to be a popular choice in Ontario for those seeking an alternative to the traditional adversarial divorce process. By understanding the collaborative process, its differences from other divorce methods, and the key considerations involved, couples can make an informed decision about whether it’s the right path for their separation. If you’re considering a collaborative divorce, consult with a trained professional to explore how this process can be tailored to meet your unique needs and situation.

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About the author

Russell Alexander

Russell Alexander is the Founder & Senior Partner of Russell Alexander Collaborative Family Lawyers.