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Collaborative Practice: A Good Choice for Your Family?

Looking for a better alternative than family court? Learn about Collaborative Practice, its benefits and what it can do for you.
(1 minute 41 seconds read time)

Karen Bonnell
Karen is a coach that has over 25 years of experience working with individuals, couples, and families facing transition, loss, stress, and change.

What is Collaborative Practice?
A model of negotiation where each parent is supported by professionals during the negotiations and there is a commitment not to go to court. Participants use problem solving to come to an agreement that meets each person’s interests and needs.

What does Collaborative Practice offer?
1. A lawyer (trained in Collaborative Practice) for each parent, committed to support a couple in negotiating a fair agreement, considering what is important for each parent.

2. Trained counselors: (mental health professionals); either one neutral working with both parents, or two neutral coaches working together to support each parent. The mental health professionals assist in building healthy communication and strong coParenting plans. You may also choose to have a mental health professional to provide a neutral voice for the children.

3. A neutral financial professional: Most jurisdictions work with Collaborative Practice models where the professional team varies; it may be as small as two lawyers, or include a full team of professionals, depending on client needs.

What are the mandatory components of Collaborative Practice?
1) An agreement signed by both parties stipulating that none of the professionals will appear in court for either party.
2) Good faith negotiations.
3) Voluntary disclosure.
If experts are required, they will be neutral experts (not aligned with either party).

What does Collaborative Practice require of parents?
1) The ability to communicate, with the assistance of professionals.
2) The ability to work towards solutions that take both parent’s interests and needs into account.
3) The ability to keep the children’s best interests and needs in the forefront.

—Nancy Cameron is an attorney practicing in British Columbia dedicated to respectful resolutions. Past President of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals, Nancy is the author of, “Collaborative Practice: Deepening the Dialogue”.

Editor’s Note: Going through a divorce doesn’t mean that you’re alone.  We all hear that it’s important to have your support system in terms of family and friends, but what about some professional back-up?  This excerpt has been taken from Karen Bonnell’s book, THE PARENTING PLAN HANDBOOK.  For more information on Karen or her book, you’re invited to visit