What is Collaborative Family Law?

Many people who are faced with separation, divorce and custody matters really want to deal with them in the most kind, fair, reasonable and practical manner. Unfortunately, traditional law practices have typically used adversarial techniques and litigation in their efforts to get the best deal possible for their clients– and these frequently come with tremendous stress & tension, and all too often have a negative impact on the relationship between the two parties.
At Fall River Law, we practice Collaborative Family Law. The goal of collaborative family law is to resolve family disputes when couples separate without going to court and ensure that both spouses feel the result is fair. In fact in the collaborative process, lawyers and clients sign an agreement that they will not go to court, nor will they threaten to go to court.
Association of Collaborative Family Law Professionals of Nova Scotia
Fall River Law is a member of the Association of Collaborative Family Law Professionals of Nova Scotia.
It is also a mutual process where the goal is to stay at the table until the needs, values and interests of both parties have been met. The clients and lawyers work together as a team to reach mutually satisfying solutions. Any experts who may be retained are retained with the consent of everyone, and these experts also become part of the team process.

About the Process:
Collaborative family law lawyers work together with their clients and the other spouse with his/her lawyer to reach agreements in bringing their marriage to an end with as little acrimony as possible. Instead of conducting negotiations by telephone or letters between lawyers you meet face-to-face with your spouse and the lawyers to work things out. Each spouse has their own lawyer by their side through the entire process, which allows you to benefit from legal advice as you work your way through the necessary steps.

  1. Each spouse seeks the professional assistance of a collaboratively trained family law lawyer. An initial meeting is scheduled in which both lawyers and spouses attend at one of the lawyers’ offices for a face-to-face meeting. A set of rules is agreed upon including a discussion on an exchange of financial and other pertinent information.
  2. All subsequent meetings always include one of the lawyers taking minutes and then circulating them to everyone to ensure all details are captured. After each meeting there are debriefing meetings between spouses and their respective lawyer as well as between the lawyers to ensure that the process is working for all parties.
  3. Financial information is also gathered and exchanged. If necessary where one or both spouses need assistance, a financial neutral professional could also get involved to assist with understanding the long-term consequences of some of the negotiated settlements that could be reached.
  4. The number of four-way meetings and individual meetings will be determined by the ability of the parties to recognize when their needs and the other spouse’s needs have been met in the best way possible.
  5. The lawyers then work together to prepare a written agreement for the parties to sign.
At the end of the day, the goal of Collaborative Family Law is to find a satisfactory settlement in the most efficient and cooperative manner; and for both parties to walk away feeling heard, respected and validated.

Which approach would you prefer?

Watch the video below to hear Barb talk about what it is about collaborative family law that makes her passionate about practicing it, why she feels collaborative family law is the best way to serve people, and what she has experienced as “the benefit” to people who choose this route.

Here is a great YouTube video that really explains what Collaborative Family Law is all about:

To listen to more on Collaborative Family Law, click on the following link:
WLRN Collaborative Divorce Audio

What Our Clients Say

“Collaborative law was the best solution for me as I tried to navigate an adversarial separation. Our family needed a solution that minimized conflict and maintained the children as the focus. Barbara was highly effective in achieving the best outcome for all involved. She made an overwhelming task achievable. The results of which are a separation agreement that has proven effective over the past two years.”

M . Smith


“When I first met Barb, I was a terrified lady, heading down a road to an acrimonious Divorce. Not only did Barb provide me with the guidance I needed for a successful financial outcome, she afforded me the positive, personal growth I needed, which has a far greater value. Her empathy, and professional guidance had a profound effect on me, and I not only survived the ordeal, but will go on to thrive. Thank you, Barb, for giving me a future full of hope.”

 Jill S.


“The process of separating can be very stressful. Choosing the Collaborative approach with Barb as my lawyer was one of the best decisions I made at this time in my life. I came to Barb's office not totally sure how to ask for what I wanted or how to go about getting it. Barb helped to give me a voice and a way to be heard that I feel I would not have had without her help. Barb used our time together effectively and efficiently with the end goal being a separation agreement that was fair and did not drag on longer than necessary.”

Sherry W