Skip to content

Posts from the ‘Collaborative Practice’ Category

Family Law Now | Episode 2: Top 10 Things You Should Know About Collaborative Practice

Top 10 Things You Should Know About Collaborative Practice

Episode Info

On this episode, hosted by Russell Alexander with special guest Jason Isenberg, two collaborative family lawyers discuss the process, resources, and the various benefits for clients who choose collaborative. Tune in to Family Law Now to learn more!

Listen on SoundCloud.


Show Notes

1. Key Elements

2. The Difference Between Collaborative Practice and Mediation

3. The Collaborative Team

infographic collaborative family law team members

4. A Different Approach

5. Reducing Hostility in Family Disputes and Separation

6. The Nuts & Bolts of Collaborative Practice

7. The Pace of Collaborative Practice

8. A Focus on the Future

Communication Guidelines

9. A Focus on Interests, Not Positions

10. Further Information about Collaborative Practice

Contact a Lawyer

Collaborative Practice Institute

OACP (previously known as OCLF)


Thank you for tuning in!

Family Law Now Podcast Logo

Wednesday’s Video Clip: Enforceable Marriage Contracts

 

What makes a marriage contract enforceable?

• Ensure the contract is in accordance with the prevailing law,

• Financial disclosure from both parties,

• Disclosure of all assets,

• Disclosure of all debts,

• The contract should be a product of full and fair negotiation.

 

Answer provided by family lawyer, Lori Dubin.

At Russell Alexander, Family Lawyers our focus is exclusively family law, offering pre-separation legal advice and assisting clients with family related issues including: custody and access, separation agreements, child and spousal support, division of family property, paternity disputes, and enforcement of court orders.  For more information, visit us at RussellAlexander.com

Wednesday’s Video Clip: Litigation vs Collaborative Practice

Wednesday’s Video Clip: Litigation vs Collaborative Practice

What is the difference between a litigation file and a collaborative practice file?

Usually the clients find the result much more satisfactory from a cp file, as appose to having a result imposed upon them by the court in a litigation file.

What is litigation?

Litigation is a typical traditional court file. There are two lawyers involved. The parties usually take an adversarial position that involves positional bargaining. This usually involves a contested court proceeding. This results in a negotiated agreement.

What if the parties of a litigation file cannot come to an agreement?

If the parties cannot come to an agreement, the court imposes a result on both parties.

What is collaborative practice?

In a collaborative practice file, we focus on goals and interests of both parties. Again, both parties have lawyers. It is considered a respectful and peaceful process where communication should be appropriate at all times. The parties will have communication guidelines.

A collaborative practice file is likely to involve a full team. This often includes a neutral family professional and a neutral financial professional. Other professionals can also join the team as needed including business valuators and/or corporate or tax specialists.

Not only do the parties agree not to go to court, but the lawyers must agree that they’re not going to go to court; They also agree not to take advantage of each other’s mistakes.

An important part in the collaborative process is that there will be full and complete disclosure. Fairness is subjective. The goal is to come up with an acceptable result for both parties that satisfies goals and interests.

Wednesday’s Video Clip: 10 Tips About Collaborative Practice Agreements

video thumbnail of lawyer talking with his hands in boardroom

Wednesday’s Video Clip: 10 Tips About Collaborative Practice Agreements 

1. How does collaborative practice work? 5-Step Roadmap:

STEP ONE: Establish a Foundation

STEP TWO: Gather and Exchange Information

STEP THREE: Identify Choices and Options

STEP FOUR: Evaluate the Consequence

STEP FIVE: Come to a Decision and Implement an Agreement

infographic of the collaborative process as a roadmap

2. The process is voluntary as set out in the cp agreement. Parties are expected to engage in the spirit of compromise.

3. We focus on goals and interests.That is specifically set out in the collaborative practice agreement.

4. Both lawyers and their clients agree not to take advantage of each other’s mistakes. So if a mistake is made the lawyer is expected to identify it to the other party.

5. Neither lawyer will go to court should the process fail. If the process fails, the parties must retain new lawyers to take the matter to court.

6. The lawyers still function and give legal advice. They have the responsibility to diligently represent their clients.

7. Lawyers may engage other professionals. For example, we may bring in a Neutral Family Professional or Neutral Financial Professional to assist and join the Collaborative Team.

infographic to show the full collaborative family law team members

8. Both parties are expected to make full and timely disclosure by providing all information both parties need to make an informed decision.

9. All communication within the collaborative process is considered confidential. The expectation is that information gathered through cp isn’t going to be used later in a court setting.

10. If an agreement is put in place, signed by parties and their lawyers, that agreement will be enforceable and can be later used in court if necessary. You are expected to live by the agreements that you sign in the collaborative process.


At Russell Alexander Collaborative Family Lawyers our focus is exclusively family law, offering pre-separation legal advice and assisting clients with family related issues including: custody and access, separation agreements, child and spousal support, division of family property, paternity disputes, and enforcement of court orders.  For more information, visit us at RussellAlexander.com

“Runaway Train: Using Collaborative Practice to Derail High Conflict Court Cases”

low angle train tracks leading to pink sunset

“Runaway Train: Using Collaborative Practice to Derail High Conflict Court Cases”

High conflict court cases that never seem to end.  We have all heard, experienced and lived them. How can we use collaborative practice (CP) to address and redress the problems of high conflict family court litigation? Is it possible? Why would anyone try?

Many families cannot see the light that is CP; and court litigation is all they know, all they have been exposed to or was the only option presented to them when they separated.

One of the basic tenets of CP is that both lawyers agree not to go to court. They are ‘all-in’ with respect to the process and if it fails or break down they contractually agree to step aside and let new (often litigation) lawyers take over.

Newly Separate Spouses, Court and CP

We almost always start every file by proposing the CP process.  We write very open ended, friendly informative letters encouraging our client’s spouse to consider CP and hire a collaboratively trained lawyer.  Sometimes the other spouse does not respond or decides to be self-represented (or spouse 2  – “S2”). In these circumstances a court proceeding is commenced and sometimes proceeds undefended.  Usually at the very last step of the court process S2 then decides to retain counsel and respond to the proceeding.  If S2’s new lawyer has CP training this is a great opportunity to stop the litigation train as it is leaving the station.

The parties have the option to withdraw from court proceedings and pursue CP.  Or the parties can amend the standard CP agreement to reflect that the matter is already in court and place the existing court proceeding on hold until CP is pursued. Case management Judges have shown to be very accommodating with this approach and are often happy to get the case off their docket.  The one advantage to this approach is that any final CP agreement can be incorporated into a court order quite easily by administrative motion (14B) with little time or expense.  In addition, the court can also easily grant the divorce order.

Existing Court files and CP

What issues do you need to consider when existing court files are converted CP?  The addition of neutrals is always good practice and we should encourage client to always consider the benefits of a full CP team.  Family neutrals are excellent at improving communication and addressing immediate and ongoing parenting issues.  Financial neutrals can save time and expense and add credibility to the process of financial disclosure.

The lawyers and the clients then have to consider what do with the existing litigation: withdrawal the court action, put the action on hold, agree not to go to court with their former litigation counsel, agree to go back to court with the same counsel if the CP process fails, or agree to go to court to deal with specifically defined issues such as third party disclosure, maintaining jurisdiction of the children and divorce for example. Depending on the option chosen, the CP agreement may need to be modified accordingly.

CP Files and Court

There are a number of questions that arise when court files convert to CP and when converted CP files end up back in litigation.  A carefully crafted CP agreement can address many of these issues in advance but there are often unforeseen perils and pitfalls.

Stopping the runaway train of litigation using CP needs to be done with caution.  The simple option is to withdrawal the proceeding, agree not to return to court and enter into a standard CP agreement.

Sometimes, however, when there is impasse on varied issues such as valuations, parenting times, school location or jurisdiction it can be helpful to have a case management judge provide guidance to the parties using a modified hybrid CP approach.

A hybrid approach involves modifying the CP agreement to permit the parties to revisit case management for issue specific impasses, such as: disclosure, valuations, third party participation (shareholders or directors for example), schooling, time sharing and parenting issues. The CP agreement can also specify what information and disclosure could be used in later court proceedings if necessary.

Sections of the standard CP agreement that need to be addressed and possibly modified when stopping the train of runaway litigation include:

  • Agreement not to go to court
  • Agreement not to use information acquired in the CP process in court proceedings
  • Agreement to choose new lawyer
  • Notice provisions and waiting periods
  • And more

Summary

Purists will argue that modifying CP agreements and converting court actions or taking a hybrid approach to CP files (or small “c” collaboration) is not true to the cause and runs contrary to the principles of collaborative practice. However, there are many families caught up in the frenzy of court litigation and the system is being strained by the increasing number of family court matters and the increase in self represented litigants. Perhaps we can use CP creatively to put the brakes on or even stop the runaway train of family court litigation and help ease an overburdened justice system and find closure for families caught up in the disconnect of litigation.

At Russell Alexander Collaborative Family Lawyers our focus is exclusively family law, offering pre-separation legal advice and assisting clients with family related issues including: custody and access, separation agreements, child and spousal support, division of family property, paternity disputes, and enforcement of court orders.  For more information, visit us at RussellAlexander.com

The Bezos fortune gets divided in a private divorce agreement and Amazon doesn’t miss a beat

The Bezos fortune gets divided in a private divorce agreement and Amazon doesn’t miss a beat

MacKenzie Bezos announced earlier today in a tweet that she and, now ex-husband, Jeff Bezos, have settled their financial affairs in a private divorce agreement. Though full details of the Agreement are not publicly available, MacKenzie declared she was “happy” to sign over 75% of the couple’s jointly owned stock in Amazon as well as voting control of her shares and her interests in The Washington Post and the Blue Origin aerospace company.

Following the news of the Bezos family settlement, Amazon’s stock price reportedly dropped by a mere 0.4%. The Bezos’ settlement out of court played a significant role in stabilizing the effect their separation would have on Amazon’s viability, and stock price. Consider the contrary, for a moment—had the Bezos’ litigated their family law dispute, personal financial details would have been made public record, and the very fate of Amazon may have been at the discretion of a family court judge—which could have resulted in an outcome felt around the world.

The success of the Bezos family settlement illustrates key benefits of resolving legal issues out of court: privacy, creativity and a controlled impact on the family business. These same benefits can be realized by family business owners who choose the collaborative process. Collaborative clients are empowered to privately resolve legal issues using creative solutions like share transfers, family trusts and delayed equalization, to name a few, to ensure an orderly transition, preserving the family business, and family legacy for generations.

We have published several other posts on the very topic of how the collaborative process can help family run businesses survive and thrive after divorce. To learn more, click here.

At Russell Alexander, Family Lawyers our focus is exclusively family law, offering pre-separation legal advice and assisting clients with family related issues including: custody and access, separation agreements, child and spousal support, division of family property, paternity disputes, and enforcement of court orders. For more information, visit us at RussellAlexander.com.

We Are Now Seeking an Associate Family Lawyer

Russell Alexander Collaborative Family Lawyers is growing and we are seeking an Associate Family Lawyer to join our team! We practice exclusively in all areas of family law at multiple office locations in Ontario. We provide the opportunity to work remotely up to three days a week.

Job Type: Full-time

Salary: $150,000.00 – $200,000.00

Required skills and knowledge:
• Qualified to practice law in Ontario;
• Minimum of 3 years experience in Family Law and litigation;
• Interest and/or Certification in Collaborative Practice;
• Ability to work independently and in a team-environment;
• Strong and effective analytical and problem-solving skills, and excellent writing skills;
• Ability to engage in effective oral advocacy;
• Excellent organizational and time management skills, including attention to detail, and an ability to multi-task;
• High level of professionalism and initiative.

Responsibilities:
• Drafting legal documents, including but not limited to, pleadings, motions, affidavits, financial statements and conference briefs;
• Upkeep on all current client files, as well as bringing in new clients
• Delegating work to law clerks, and working closely with law clerks on files;
• Attending court.

Applications will be kept confidential. Please submit resume and cover letter to reception@russellalexander.com

Ajit Roopnarine Completes His Level II Collaborative Practice Training

Our Associate lawyer, Ajit Roopnarine, has completed his Level II of the Collaborative Practice Training organized by the Ontario Collaborative Law Federation (OCLF). This training supplements the Level I training that all lawyers wishing to practice collaboratively must complete. The training focuses on further developing expertise in interest based negotiations, client assessment and suitability, managing client expectations, strengthening communications tools and managing a Collaborative Practice case.

Congratulations Ajit on getting one step closer to becoming a collaborative practice family lawyer.

To learn more about the OCLF, click here

%d bloggers like this: