ADVERSARIAL LEGAL SERVICES VS. COLLABORATION
It’s tough dealing with the end of a relationship, even if the decision to separate is mutual. It does not need to be aggravated by an adversarial system that increases conflict and financial strain.
By design, the system is adversarial—two advocates represent the best interests of their clients before an impartial judge whose job is to then determine the truth.
Though archaic, the adversarial system is necessary when parties won’t cooperate, can’t agree, or if one or both parties can’t be trusted.
I personally know a number of lawyers who refuse to take on contested Divorces. So, it’s not just consumers of legal services who dislike the adversarial system.
Trend Towards Collaboration
Fortunately, the trend towards uncontested Divorces is increasing. In 2010/2011, Statistics Canada reported that 80 percent of all Divorces were uncontested. Though the Separation Agreement that preceded it may have been contested, the fact that such a large percentage of Divorces are uncontested is promising.
A few of the reasons contributing to the trend towards collaborative Separation Agreements and Uncontested Divorces include:
- fewer dependencies due to a larger number of women entering the workforce;
- the right of fathers to share in parenting has been accepted;
- as women’s lives are no longer defined by their children (since more are working), the idea of sharing parenting time with the father is more acceptable;
- more educated consumers, thanks to the internet; and
- Federal Child Support Guidelines which take out the subjectivity of child support calculations
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The purpose of this Guide is to help you reduce the burden of usual legal practices that are adversarial, inefficient, complicated and costly—yet still provide you with the benefit and protection from receiving independent legal advice from your lawyer, if a lawyer is needed in your particular case. By educating you as to how the collaborative Separation and Divorce process can work, you avoid finding yourself in an adversarial system or reduce (maybe eliminate) unnecessary conflict.
Proceeding through the adversarial system can eliminate any chance of reconciliation; damage relationships involving children, common friends and social activities; and aggravate the financial consequences of separation and divorce even further. At one time both parties shared the cost of one household. Upon Separation the parties now have to support two households. Lifestyles will decline. Spending thousands of dollars on legal fees will make this worse. I can’t even begin to imagine how hard it might also be on your children (though some have told me that it sometimes can be easier on children when parties separate and there is less fighting).