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The first premise of collaborative law is that the majority of cases are settled out of court. Therefore, for collaborative lawyers, the explicit goal of partners who separate or divorce is to reach a settlement. As its name indicates, this practice requires that the parties and their lawyers collaborate.

The second premise falls back on the fact that since the majority of cases are settled out of court, why not start negotiating the issues from the very beginning.

Collaborative family law is a process of negotiation which involves four persons, the two parties who negotiate the terms of their divorce or separation and each of their collaborative lawyers who counsel them and assist them in their negotiations.

The four-way negotiations are always held in a spirit of collaboration. The goal of collaborative lawyers is to place as much importance on the discussions, exchanges and negotiations as on the settlement. If the negotiations fail, the collaborative lawyers withdraw from the file, and the spouses or partners shall retain lawyers for the litigation.

Spouses facing a divorce or separation, or partners facing a separation, may now consider Collaborative law as another option to negotiate an out of court settlement.
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Family mediation

In family mediation, the parties do not have their lawyers present with them at the mediation table. Therefore, they do not have legal advisors at that table to assist them and help them in making their decisions, although they may consult their lawyers in between the mediation sessions.
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Litigation

In litigation, the parties are represented by their lawyers in a process of contestation and confrontation, an adversarial process in which there are rules of procedures to follow.
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Collaborative law

In collaborative law, the partners and their collaborative lawyers meet at the same table to discuss the partners' interests and those of their children. The negotiations are interest-based and not position-based. This exercise allows them not only to exchange information, but also to consider and evaluate all the options that they may have before reaching an agreement. In doing so, they aim to find solutions that meet their respective interests.

Collaborative lawyers advise their clients of their rights and obligations, while encouraging them not to limit themselves to what the law states. Creativity is part of the collaborative process to seek out solutions that meet the needs and interests of the parents and the children.
The masculine form is used merely simplify the text. No discrimination is intended.

This text is based on an article written in French in 2003, and since then translated in English, by Me Christian Couturier, lawyer and certified mediator, and updated in collaboration with members of the Quebec Collaborative Law Group.