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Alternative to court route in family law

Individuals who have gone through a divorce can attest that it is a complex and sometimes expensive process. Here in British Columbia, however, there are family law alternatives to handling a divorce through the courts. The so-called "no-court divorce", otherwise known as a collaborative divorce, is becoming more popular with couples dedicated to a less contentious divorce experience. 

In collaborative law, while both spouses still retain their own legal counsel, those attorneys are on hand to help draft a participation agreement. Such an agreement states that both attorneys are precluded from representing their clients in court should the collaborative route prove ineffective. By proceeding in this manner, the couple opt out of court-mandated hearings and other litigation options.

If an agreement proves impossible to reach, the parties can proceed to court, though they will have to do so with new attorneys. Collaborative practice allows both parties the flexibility to discuss and negotiate a mutually satisfactory agreement. This can be particularly helpful for couples who have children. Collaborative practice also allows for the participation of other professionals, including coaches, financial specialists and mental health practitioners to help facilitate the divorce process. 

Since no two family law matters are the same, it is important for both parties to have an understanding of the options available. Here in British Columbia, seeking the support of experienced attorneys to help facilitate that understanding is a good first step toward a satisfactory divorce settlement. A solid, mutually beneficial settlement can help both parties move forward in their new lives. 

Source:, "Legal Matters: The "no court divorce"", Sept. 13, 2016

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