Alternative Dispute Resolution
Mediation and Collaborative Family Law

Alternative Dispute Resolution sometimes called ADR is a group of approaches to resolving disputes which often leads to cases being settled out of court. At Weldon McInnis many of our lawyers participate in ADR to try to achieve the best results for our clients. Experience shows that litigation of disputes is time consuming, costly and uncertain. ADR, on the other hand is faster, less costly and the parties retain more control over the outcome.

I. Mediation

Mediation is a process where a third party neutral, the mediator, holds a mediation to try to help the parties resolve their differences out of court. The mediator does not “judge” a case or impose his/her opinion. If successful, the parties will have an agreed settlement between them. Mediation will be suitable for only some kinds of disputes. Our Ronan W. Holland, an experienced lawyer and mediator, may be able to help resolve your issue.

Please call Ronan on 902-469-2421 ext 107 or email

Here are the some things you should know about mediation:

What is mediation?

Mediation is a process to enable parties to resolve disputes.

Who is the mediator?

A mediator is usually a lawyer, trained in alternative dispute resolution. He/she is a neutral who does not side with any party. He/she uses the process of mediation to try and achieve a settlement of the dispute.

How is mediation different from court proceedings?

The mediator acts by agreement of the parties. He does not decide a case and will not impose a settlement on any party. Mediation is quicker, less formal and less expensive than court proceedings. It mostly results in outcomes that are acceptable to both sides and it is confidential.

What kind of cases are suitable for mediation?

Disputes where all sides have a genuine desire to look for an out-of-court settlement are suitable. Examples are family law disputes, property issues, business and commercial disputes and disputes regarding inheritance.

Are lawyers involved in the mediation?

Parties usually need to be fully informed of their legal position before going to mediation. Lawyers will often be involved with their clients in preparing for and attending the mediation. If settlement is achieved, lawyers will usually work to implement the settlement.

How much does mediation cost?

The cost is usually divided equally between the parties. Typically, a mediator will charge for a half day or a full day’s mediation, starting at about $2,500 for a half day including the preparation. Small value claims can be mediated at a lower rate. If there are travel or other out of pocket expenses extra charges may apply.

II. Collaborative Family Law

Collaborative Practice is a voluntary dispute resolution processes in which parties settle their family law issues without resort to litigation. In a collaborative divorce, the parties are empowered to make their own decisions based on their own needs and interests, but with the aid of their respective lawyers in a team setting.

Each party hires a specially trained Collaborative Family Lawyer, and other Collaborative professionals (psychologists and financial analysts) as needed. Unlike the process of a traditional divorce, all work together in a cooperative, non-adversarial manner to achieve a lasting, mutually agreeable settlement that places the needs of children first, preserves family/parenting relationships, and provides the financial resources for each of the spouses to begin separate lives.

While traditional divorce often prolongs hostility and bitterness, Collaborative Divorce provides the foundation for all parties to embrace a healthy, hopeful future.

Ending a marriage involves the convergence of many unique issues – legal, emotional, and financial. The Collaborative Process allows you take an active role in identifying the issues that are most important to you; these are your interests and they serve as the focal point of your negotiated settlement. It is the role of the lawyers and neutral professionals to provide you with support, guidance and advice as to your options.

You, your spouse and your respective Collaborative Family Law Lawyers agree to work together – to collaborate – in an atmosphere of mutual respect and team problem solving – a settlement focused process.

Nancy G. Rideout of our firm is an experienced family law and collaborative lawyer who will help you to choose and resolve your issues through the Collaborative Process. Please call Nancy at 902-469-2421 ext 104 or email Nancy at

How Does It Work?
  • You and your spouse will each retain your own Collaborative Family Law Lawyer;
  • You, your spouse and your respective Collaborative Family Law Lawyers agree to work together – to collaborate – in an atmosphere of mutual respect and team problem solving – a settlement focused process. You may also choose to involve neutral professionals as part of your team, including parenting plan psychologists and certified divorce financial analysts;
  • You, your spouse and your respective Collaborative Family Law Lawyers will sign a Participation Agreement agreeing to work together with the sole objective being to reach a fair and comprehensive out of Court agreement. The emphasis is on creating lasting solutions.

The signed Participation Agreement includes the following commitments…..that you:

  • agree to reach a settlement without going to Court;
  • cooperate by disclosing all relevant information including financial documents;
  • be honest and respectful of each other particularly when emotions are running high;
  • be mutually prepared to engage other professionals to assist with particularly difficult issues;
  • focus on achieving a mutually acceptable agreement covering all issues in a non-adversarial approach.
  • You and your spouse’s Collaborative Family Law Lawyers will provide each of you with independent legal advice and represent your individual interest in the usual fashion but in the spirit of cooperation.
What are the Benefits of Avoiding Court?
  • You control the process and the outcome, not the lawyers or the courts
  • You avoid devastating court battles which can be draining both emotionally and financially
  • You are protecting your children from the negative effects of going to court where any goodwill is soon crushed
  • A great deal of the time, money and energy spent on court applications and trial preparation, is instead directed to developing solutions and problem solving
  • Clients and collaborative lawyers work together as members of the settlement team, rather than working against each other as “opposing parties”

The result is a fair settlement that addresses the needs and concerns of both you and your spouse.

What if the Process is Unsuccessful?

Experience suggests that the vast majority of parties who use the collaborative law system end up negotiating a fair settlement with their spouse. If either spouse stops the process by heading to court then both lawyers must resign and have no involvement in the court action. This is a powerful incentive to keep the parties at the negotiating table.

Beginning The Process

If you think the collaborative family process is right for you, these are the steps to take:

  1. Talk with your spouse or partner and share the information from this website
  2. You and your spouse each choose a lawyer from the list of collaborative lawyers on this site
  3. You may each meet with more than one collaborative lawyer before making your selection
  4. Meet with your lawyer to discuss your case and the details of the collaborative law process in your situation
  5. Both spouses and both lawyers then sign the collaborative law Participation Agreement
  6. Once these steps have been taken the lawyers will arrange the first 4-way joint collaborative meeting
How Much Will It Cost?
  1. Your Collaborative Family Law Lawyer will discuss his/her fee arrangements with you at the outset
  2. Cost will depend on the complexity of the issues and the particular lawyer’s billing policies
  3. Because of the nature of Collaborative Family Law as a settlement-driven process the cost is usually significantly less than going to Court
Why does Collaborative Divorce work?

Collaborative Divorce is effective because it is a process customized for you rather than a court-driven process to which you must conform and one with which neither of you may be happy. Why put the decision making power in the hands of a third party (the Court) which has very limited knowledge of the history and current status of your family dynamic? With face-to-face negotiation at its heart, Collaborative Divorce empowers you, your former spouse and your lawyers to create an agreement that addresses your unique situation and needs. Your Collaborative lawyers establish the respectful and safe environment in which you can achieve sensible and long-lasting agreements.

Who can use Collaborative Divorce?
  • Short- and long-term marriages
  • Marriages with or without children
  • Financially straightforward or complex marriages
  • Common law relationships
  • Same-sex relationships
  • Marriages with unique cultural or religious values.
  • Negotiation of cohabitation agreements
  • Negotiation of pre-nuptial agreements
Is Collaborative Divorce right for you?

Consider the Collaborative Family Law process if some or all of these statements are true for you:

  • You want a civilized, respectful resolution of the issues.
  • You and your partner have children together and you want the best family relationship possible now and in the future.
  • You want to avoid the harm associated with an adversarial negotiation or a court battle.
  • You place a high value on taking personal responsibility for handling conflicts with integrity.
  • You value privacy and you want to limit the personal or financial information available in the public court record.
  • You recognize that you and your partner can make better decisions about your family and finances than anyone else.
  • You understand that Collaborative Divorce involves achieving your reasonable goals and the goals of your partner.
  • Your goals include a vision for your family that extends far beyond the matter at hand.
I want to use the Collaborative Process, but how do I get my partner to do it?

Discuss what you have learned about the Collaborative Process with your spouse or partner. Encourage him or her to review this website and to meet with a Collaborative Lawyer in your area to learn more about the Process. In addition, you could meet with a Collaborative Lawyer who may be willing to provide additional information for you to share.

Collaborative Family Law Nova Scotia

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