• What happens to my pension? Cottage? Business?
  • How am I going to get through this?
  • When will I stop feeling sad? Ashamed?
  • How will we split everything?
  • How will we tell the children?
  • What will everyone think?
  • What about the kids?
  • Does it have to be a big court battle?
  • Do we have to sell the house?
  • How am I going to pay the bills?

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Collaborative Team Practice (CTP)?

"Collaborative Team Practice" (CTP) is a new way to help families who are in the midst of separation and need professional assistance to settle the issues. A team of professionals assist the clients.

A commitment is made in a CTP negotiation that:
• negotiations will be principled, dignified and respectful;
• issues will be resolved without going to Court or threatening Court action;
• both sides will exchange all important information;
• the clients will be assisted in exploring as many options for settlement as possible;
• the lawyers and other professionals will help the clients reach a settlement that best meets the goals and priorities of both clients

What types of family issues can be resolved using the CTP process?

Virtually all separation issues can resolved through the CTP process including issues concerning child custody and visitation, spousal and child support, property division, issues related to the family home and changes to existing arrangements.

What is the Collaborative Team Practice Participation Agreement?

The CTP "Participation Agreement" is a contract signed by the clients and their Collaborative Professional Team committing to work out a settlement without going to Court. If it turns out that Court is necessary because the dispute between the clients cannot be resolved in a CTP negotiation, all of the Collaborative Professional Team must resign from the case. Your CTP lawyer will assist in transferring your file to your new lawyer, but he or she (or any member of his/her firm) cannot represent you in Court. Furthermore, any other team members such as the Parenting Coach or Financial Specialist cannot participate in the Court process unless both clients agree.

How does a CTP negotiation work?

The professionals (Lawyers, Financial Specialist and Family Coach) will help you find a resolution that meets the core concerns of both you and your spouse. CTP negotiations take place at meetings with both you and your spouse present. Some or all of the professionals will also be present. Usually, you and your spouse will meet with one of the professionals at a time (the financial specialist or the family coach) or with both lawyers. The Family Coach acts as the facilitator and role model for constructive communication and provide advice to the clients. They will help keep the discussions between the clients focussed on the problems and help to find creative solutions. In a CTP negotiation, you and your spouse are empowered to reach decisions that will work best for both of you. The professionals will provide advice and help generate options for resolution. They will also assist you to improve your listening, communication and negotiating skills.

In addition, experts may be retained by the clients to assist them during the process. For example, accountants, property valuators or business valuators, depending on the needs of the clients, may be retained for their special knowledge. The cost of these experts is usually shared by you and your spouse.

If the clients do not reach an agreement or choose to end the process, neither the professionals nor the experts can be used in Court unless both you and your spouse agree. This gives the clients, professionals and experts an incentive to bargain in good faith. It changes the whole dynamics of the negotiations.

In a CTP negotiation, both clients must make full, honest disclosure of finances and other important facts that are necessary to make informed decisions.

Your Family Coach will help you and your spouse work through the emotional issues inherent to every separation and will prepare you for the process. S/he will help each of you understand and respect the emotional roller coaster of separation while also helping you develop strategies so that your emotions will not interfere with the settlement process. The Family Coach is essential to prepare you and your spouse for the process so will meet with you at the beginning of the process. Working with a Family Coach in advance of the negotiations will result in a faster resolution of the issues.

The Family Coach also manages the process. S/he will ensure homework is being done, meetings are being held and progress toward resolution is being made.

If there are issues concerning children, the Family Coach will also assist the clients by meeting with the children and helping the parents develop a parenting plan that is in the best interests of the children.

If there are financial issues, a Financial Specialist will assist the clients to gather the necessary financial information and consider the impact of various settlement options.

In a CTP negotiation, all of the participants commit to treat one another with respect. It is a dignified approach that is cost-effective and results in long-lasting agreements which meet the core concerns of both you and your spouse.

What if my spouse does not make the disclosure he/she promises in the Participation Agreement?

If one of the spouses refuses to make proper disclosure, the Collaborative Professionals are required by the Participation Agreement to withdraw from the case. This provides very strong incentive to both spouses to honour their promises.

My spouse and I do not communicate at all and I don't trust my spouse. How can we use this process?

It is normal for separated spouses to have serious communication problems and trust issues. The Family Coach will teach you new ways to communicate with your spouse and strategies to get you through the negotiations. Furthermore, the negotiations will be in the presence of some or all of the professionals (the Lawyers, Financial Specialist or Family Coach) who will help you through the rough spots and defuse the conflict. If your spouse is misleading you or members of the team, your team members have an obligation to end the process. Furthermore, there is no guarantee that the Court system will ensure your spouse is being truthful.

What if we need help to decide certain issues?

It may be necessary to hire outside experts (such as pension valuators, accountants, real estate appraisers, business valuators, etc.) for their special knowledge. Before any outside assistance is obtained both clients must agree on the selection and payment arrangements for the outside expert. Any expert whose services are used will not be allowed to assist either person if the matter does go to Court in the future, unless agreed by both clients.

Can all lawyers be CTP lawyers?

If a CTP negotiation is going to be successful, it is important that both lawyers have an understanding of and commitment to the CTP principles. Each lawyer has to have taken specialized training in the process and is usually a member of the local CTP association. CTP is a relatively new approach to dispute resolution in Ontario and not all lawyers have experience with the concept or have received training. If you and your spouse are interested in CTP, ask your lawyer whether s/he has CTP training. If your spouse's lawyer has CTP training, s/he could recommend others in the community who have training and experience. All of the professionals listed on the website www.DivorceHappens.ca have appropriate training.

How does CTP differ from mediation?

In mediation, you are on your own. The mediator is a neutral person who assists the clients to work out a settlement. The mediator does not act for either party and cannot provide legal advice or even express an opinion. In a typical family mediation, the clients attend mediation without their lawyers but are advised to seek legal advice. At the end of the mediation, the lawyers create a separation agreement signed by both clients reflecting the terms negotiated.

In a CTP negotiation, a team of professionals are helping you work through the issues in a cost-efficient manner. Each lawyer will ensure his/her client is provided with legal advice about the issues throughout the process. In the CTP negotiation, the Family Coach will prepare and support you throughout the negotiations. The Family Coach and Financial Specialist will offer you neutral advice throughout the process. The professionals work as a team to guide you every step of the way to the best settlement possible for the whole family. Once an agreement is reached, the lawyers create a separation agreement signed by both clients which reflects the agreement reached. In the Collaborative Process, you are not on your own – you have a team supporting you.

How does a CTP negotiation differ from the traditional family law negotiation process?

In a CTP negotiation, the clients and their lawyers commit to resolving the dispute without going to Court or threatening to go to Court. In a traditional family law negotiation, Court may be used as an ongoing threat or bargaining tool and often ends up in Court.

In a CTP negotiation, the clients explore options for resolution which include legal options but also more creative options. In a traditional negotiation, typically only legal options are considered. Legal "rights" dominate traditional negotiations whereas in the CTP negotiation the core concerns of the clients is of paramount importance.

Often there is a competition between experts in the traditional process, but in the CTP process, the professionals are often jointly retained to help the clients come to a fair and reasonable settlement.

In a CTP negotiation, the lawyers work with the clients, the Family Coach and the Financial Specialist to develop a settlement that that best meets the goals of both clients. In a traditional negotiation each lawyer advocates solutions that best meet their own client's goals.

In a CTP negotiation, the clients negotiate directly with one another with the help and advice of professionals and take responsibility for resolving the issues themselves. In a traditional negotiation, it is the lawyers who maintain control of the process and the negotiation.

What if final settlement is not reached using the CTP process?

There is no guarantee that the CTP process will resolve every issue, although with a commitment to the process, most CTP negotiations are successful. If one or both of the clients decides that they do not want to continue with CTP, then both lawyers must resign from the case and no other members of the lawyer's law firm can represent the client. Likewise, the Family Coach or Financial Specialist or any other professional retained in the CTP cannot be used in the Court process unless both clients agree. The lawyers will assist in transferring the file to the new lawyer but will have no further involvement in the case.

Can one of the clients withdraw from the CTP process at any time?

The CTP process is voluntary and either party may withdraw at any time. There may also be circumstances when one of the lawyers must resign, for example, if it is discovered that a client is hiding important information during the process.

How much does a CTP negotiation cost?

The expense of a CTP negotiation will vary depending on the complexity of the issues and the time needed to resolve them. Typically, the process will cost significantly less than going to Court. Each client pays for their own lawyer and shares the costs of the other professionals. Usually the costs are significantly less than the court process since so many costs are shared instead of each client paying for their own set of professionals. See the website www.DivorceHappens.ca for a costs comparison of the court process vs the Collaborative approach.

Won't it cost more with this "Team Approach" than if I just retain a traditional lawyer to negotiate or go to Court?

The team approach is very cost-effective. In the traditional approach, often each party retains experts. In the CTP process you share the cost of agreed upon experts.

In the traditional approach, the clients' emotions often hamper and delay the process. In the CTP process, clients receive the emotional support they need so they are in the best possible position to negotiate for themselves.

In the traditional approach, each party retains a lawyer (who usually does not have special training in the developmental needs of children) to help them resolve parenting issues. In the CTP process, a single Family Coach with expertise in the developmental needs of children will help the clients develop a parenting plan.

In a traditional approach, each party retains a lawyer to collect and exchange financial documentation. In the CTP process, a single Financial Specialist with special training will help collect the disclosure and will explore the impact of various settlement options with the clients.

The cost of retaining one professional to assist you will be significantly less than paying two competing professionals or two lawyers to negotiate or litigate the issues. Furthermore, with the help of professionals, you will reach a better agreement than a Court imposed one.

In the end, you will save money and, more importantly, reach a better agreement. You will also have experts assisting (with a lower hourly rate) in their trained fields rather than relying on your lawyer for everything.

Why do I have to get a new lawyer should the negotiations fail? I don't want to lose my lawyer!

The key element of the whole process is the obligation of the clients to get new lawyers should the negotiations fail because it causes the parties and lawyers to commit to negotiating a settlement. When court is an option, the lawyers and clients are likely to use it. When it isn't an option, everyone really works hard to find a negotiated solution. The lawyers abandon their traditional adversarial approach and become experts at finding win-win resolutions. As a result, about 95% of Collaborative cases result in a full agreement.

What do you do after you decide Collaborative Team Practice is the right process for you?

Once you have decided that a CTP negotiation is the right process for you, you should discuss this option with your spouse or approach a professional who can approach your spouse. A CTP negotiation can only take place if both clients agree.

If your spouse is reluctant to consider the Collaborative Process, consider speaking to someone he or she trusts about the process who can then speak to your spouse about it. Maybe your minister or your spouse's friend or a family member could be shown these materials and view the website www.DivorceHappens.ca and then will be able to explain the benefits to your spouse better than you. Sometimes spouses are more open to suggestions from third parties than from their separating spouse.

We find that spouses are more open to the concept when approached by neutral professionals such as the Family Coach or Financial Specialist.

Why should I choose Collaborative Team Practice?

By choosing CTP, you ensure that the arrangement reached between you and your spouse will be designed by you, with the guidance and legal advice of your CTP lawyer and other professionals with special training.

You will be able to achieve a settlement in a respectful, creative and cost-effective manner. You will achieve a long-lasting, fair arrangement in a dignified manner. Simply put, it is the best way of resolving separation issues for you and your family.

How do I begin the CTP process?

Contact one of the professionals in your area. S/he can assist you to start the process. There is a list of professionals who are fully trained on our website www.DivorceHappens.ca. Any of the professionals can help you begin the process. Generally we recommend the Family Coach, or Financial Specialist to connect with your spouse to invite them to participate in the process because these professionals are neutrals. If you feel you would be more successful inviting your spouse to use the Collaborative process then go ahead. Give it a try. Encourage your spouse to visit this website www.DivorceHappens.ca to learn more about the process and to find a lawyer or other professional to assist him or her.

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