Collaborative Family Law Practice


Collaborative law is a cooperative and creative approach to separation and divorce. Under a collaborative approach, both clients are represented by a lawyer, and both sides agree that if the negotiations break down, new lawyers must be hired before litigation begins. This encourages everyone to concentrate fully on the process and do their best to come to a resolution without going to court.

The process consists of four-way meetings, with a clear agenda of issues to be covered at each meeting. Participants work to clarify needs and interests and find solutions to common problems in order to come up with a solid, workable separation agreement. Lawyers are there to assist clients in finding those solutions and to explain rights and obligations to their clients.

It is also possible to bring in outside experts such as business valuators, divorce coaches, child care, financial and real estate specialists, psychological experts and any other professionals with experience needed for the particular situation of the family in question.



Not every separation is suitable for collaborative law. Our collaborative family law lawyers will discuss the pros and cons with you to see if this is the right approach for you.



   Concerns include:

  • Much of the formality of court is not present, which can be relaxing to clients who are intimidated by court procedure but can make some clients not take the collaborative approach as seriously as they might take litigation.
  • A team approach can encourage some clients to share their feelings and interests, but can also make some clients feel they cannot discuss things freely or feel that they have a lack of control over the proceedings.
  • If there are many participants, the process can be costly and time-consuming.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Generally, the issues relate to the parenting of children, child support, spousal support, property division, and their various sub-issues. In most cases where the separation is permanent, a further issue is divorce.
By far, most cases are settled by agreement between the parties without a court trial.
You don’t need the court except to process a divorce after all other issues arising out of the marriage and separation are settled by agreement. The usual practice is to see the progress to divorce as a two-stage matter with the divorce in the second stage. The first stage is the negotiation of a separation agreement that takes care of all the other issues.
If you settle all matters arising out of the marriage and separation without going to court, the settlement should be recorded in a separation agreement even though a divorce is contemplated. The agreement must be in the form of a separation agreement to comply with the definition of a “domestic contract,” which has special properties in family law, and to meet the requirements for certain tax advantages that are available. Notwithstanding that it is a separation agreement, when properly drawn it is made to govern the rights and obligations of the parties with respect to each other on separation, divorce and death.

We can help you find a resolution that will help your family move on.

If you are going through family issues or a relationship breakdown in the Greater Toronto Area, contact the laywers at MacDonald & Partners LLP and come into our office, in downtown Toronto, Etobicoke, Oakville and North York.