Collaborative Law made simple

cfspThe Collaborative Family Law Group or CFL, was formed 15 years ago in Victoria B.C. The CFL members are the only certified provider of Collaborative Law services in Victoria. It was created by a group of independent lawyers, counselors and financial specialists to take the conflict out of separation.

The group is made up of 11 counselors, 6 financial specialists, and 41 lawyers. Each has been specifically trained to facilitate resolution in a conciliatory fashion. What this means is that the ultimate goal is to keep clients out of court by dealing with separation through negotiation and agreement.

There are similar groups throughout the world subscribing to the principles of the International Association of Collaborative Professionals (IACP). Membership of the Victoria Collaborative Family Law Group and the IACP, requires significant training in conflict resolution, mediation, negotiation, and out of court settlement.

The collaborative process reduces the role of lawyers and gives the clients a lot more control over the final resolution. Divorce coaches and financial specialists help clients address highly emotional issues like parenting time and finances. The lawyers support the clients and other professionals to make sure the final agreement fair and legal.

The process starts with an agreement by both parties that no matter how bad the current situation is, going to court will be worse. The average file is moderate to high conflict. Low conflict files can normally be resolved by mediation without the need of a full team approach. Part of the initial process is to determine if Collaborative Law is right for your situation.

Some clients worry that involving extra professionals will increase the cost of separation. The reality is that the coaches cost far less than the lawyers, so there is a strong likelihood that you will save money. It is a lot more cost effective to work out parenting plans with a coach than a lawyer. Many coaches are Registered Psychologists or Clinical Counselors. In many cases their services are at least partially covered by extended medical plans.

Financial specialists can gather information and help the clients make sense of their current financial situation, discuss division of assets, and to plan for their future goals after the separation.

In the collaborative process your rights are always protected. Although both parties agree not to go to court, if an emergence arises, you can leave the collaborative process and return to the court process. This is very rare. Over 90% of cases are completely resolved through the collaborative process. In fact many clients, will continue a relationship with their coaches after the final agreement to make changes when necessary

The real strength of the Collaborative Family Law Group is that the members are committed to empowering their clients. The goal is to help you change your family arrangements in a respectful and constructive way. While there will be some very challenging and stressful times, most clients emerge from the process with the skills they will need to work co-operatively in the future.


Michael Butterfield

Collaborative Lawyer & Mediator

Areas of Practice: Family law including separation, divorce, mediation, arbitration, child & spousal support, support variations, guardianship, parenting time, access, property division and more.

Victoria BC