Collaborative Family Law And The First CFL Meeting

meeting; Collaborative Family Law; CFL meeting; client meeting Collaborative Family Law (CFL) is an effective process for resolving issues arising from separation or divorce. CFL is a structured process, but there is enough flexibility so that you can use it to deal with a variety of family law issues, and within a variety of family dynamics. CFL ensures the matter is kept out of court and it enables both spouses/partners to maintain full control of what happens with parenting, decision making, child support, spousal support and/or division of property.

Read more about CFL generally, here.

What To Expect At The First Collaborative Family Law Meeting

The CFL process is driven by one or more 4-way meetings, which are a type of negotiation meeting where both spouses/partners and their lawyers are present. At these meetings the parties work toward an agreement that addresses their respective interests and goals.

The first 4-way meeting is critical and immensely beneficial; it tends to follow a predictable agenda that Collaborative Family Law lawyers have developed to ensure the meeting is productive and moves things forward toward an efficient resolution.

Preparing For The First Collaborative Family Law Meeting

Before the first 4-way meeting, the lawyers meet to discuss the meeting format, to provide an overview of each client’s issues or concerns and how to effectively address them, which issues are more pressing than others etc. This means that, before the first 4-way meeting starts, the lawyers both already understand which issues are most important and which issues they should address sooner rather than later.

Each party will have an opportunity to meet with their lawyer prior to the first 4-way meeting. This might happen either before or after the “lawyer-lawyer” meeting. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss what the 4-way meeting will look like, what the agenda will be, and what is expected of the client.

The Agenda For The First Collaborative Family Law Meeting

The first 4-way meeting follows an agenda that the lawyers provide at the start of the meeting. Collaborative Family Law lawyers have developed this agenda over several years, with contributions from many, many Collaborative Family Law practitioners. The result is that the first meeting proceeds in a relatively predictable format and maps out what the rest of the process will look like.

First, everyone has an opportunity to add any last-minute items if needed. The parties then confirm the length of the meeting and identify the pressing issues.

The next step is to review and sign the Collaborative Law contract which formally starts the process. The lawyers will briefly review the process so that both parties have a shared understanding and shared expectations.

After signing the contract, the 4 participants (the parties and their lawyers) work toward identifying what each party’s priorities are. These tend to include objectives, and hopes and fears with respect to the children and the financial future. It is important to spend time on these priorities because they are referred to periodically throughout the process. Allowing the participants to ensure they are on the right track toward resolving the various issues.

Information Gathering And Homework Items

The participants will discuss current living and work arrangements. If the parties have children, the participants will discuss the current parenting schedule. Gathering this information takes up a relatively small amount of time, but is extremely beneficial. It ensures both lawyers have the same understanding of the family’s current arrangements, and it can start the process of creatively solving any pressing issues around monthly cashflow or parenting.

The lawyers will explain what documents they need to be able to provide meaningful advice on the different issues. The participants discuss how long it will take to produce or create the documents, how to produce them quickly and efficiently, and who is responsible for gathering which documents.

These “homework items” are usually discussed at the end of the meeting, but this is a vital meeting component. Creating a plan for information-gathering is what ensures that future meetings are efficient and productive.

Debriefing Post-Meeting

Typically the lawyers will check in with their respective clients after the meeting. Having gone through the first meeting, everyone is in a better position to determine what areas are more emotional than others, or where they might need additional resources or preparation. This is valuable information for improving subsequent meetings and moving the matter toward a resolution.

How Much In Legal Fees Does The First Collaborative Family Law Meeting Cost?

At Kahane Law Office in Edmonton, we offer monthly subscription billing which includes the costs of the first Collaborative Family Law meeting. The actual meeting time is usually 3-4 hours. The majority of family law lawyers bill based on their hourly rate. Assuming a 3.5 hour meeting plus 2 hours of preparation time at an hourly rate of $350, an estimated cost for the first Collaborative Family Law meeting is $2000. Learn more about our Family Law Subscription Plan here.

How To Get Started

If you think Collaborative Family Law might be a good fit for you and your family, book an initial consultation with a Collaborative Family Law Lawyer from Kahane Law Office in Edmonton now. You can do that by clicking here, emailing us at [email protected], or by calling 780-571-8463.