and without going to court.
Collaborative practice helps couples
focus on their most important goals,
especially their children, as they end
their marriage, be it legal or common
law. It also keeps spouses in control
of the process—not lawyers or judges.
Collaborative divorce and
mediation are problem-solving rather
than adversarial procedures. They
are ways for parents to avoid or
lessen the shockwaves of a breakup
for themselves and their children,
Pritchard says. “Engaging the right
professionals and organizations can
help to calm the shock.”
In comparison, the traditional
divorce system is adversarial, pitting
parents against each other and
often increasing and prolonging the
conflict. A couple’s breakup does not
have to lead to a nasty divorce battle
in court, although many Albertans
are unaware of the more peaceful
options for divorce and separation,
says Beryl McNeill, a registered
collaborative practice lawyer and
mediator with McNeill Family
Law in Calgary. She is also past
president of the Canadian Bar
Association, Family Section (Alberta-
Collaborative practice is based on
giving families ways to work together
Breaking up can be easier to do
These resources offer divorcing or separating couples options to the
traditional divorce system.
•;CollaborativePractice.ca: This website from the Collaborative Divorce Alberta
Association includes frequently asked questions about the practice and lists registered and
trained professionals in your area, as well as family counsellors and financial experts.
•;Newways4families.com: A respected and effective program in Medicine Hat, the New
Ways for Families Program helps separating couples with children build their parenting
skills and reduce the effects of high-conflict divorce and separation on children. “It teaches
flexible thinking, learning how to manage emotions, moderate behaviours and checking
yourself, among other skills,” says Pritchard.
•;afms.ca: Visit the Alberta Family Mediation Society website to find registered family
mediators and parenting coordinators.
•;justice.alberta.ca: Families can find a range of resources from Alberta Justice and
Solicitor General Mediation and Counselling Services, including mediation services to
resolve parenting issues. Subsidies available.
and communicate. Lawyers, family
counsellors, and financial specialists
help and advise a divorcing couple
and their family.
Pritchard and McNeill are part
of a team of lawyers and family
counsellors working to help
Albertans understand their legal
options to divorce. Almost half of
marriages in Alberta will end before
a couple’s 30th anniversary.
“The more people hear about this
model of practice, the more they
choose it and the more other lawyers
come on board to be trained,”
The right help can calm
the aftershocks of divorce