BC Collaborative Roster Society Pro Bono Collaborative Divorce Project
The Collaborative Pro Bono Project is a voluntary and confidential program for parties going through separation and/or divorce who are unable to afford lawyers and who are willing to meet and negotiate using the principles Collaborative Practice.
The Collaborative Model uses a team of specially trained professionals who are committed to finding solutions that take into account the priorities of each of the parties and their children. The Collaborative team will include a lawyer for each party, a neutral divorce coach (who is a counselor trained in the collaborative process and will help with communication and parenting plans) and, if needed, a financial neutral.
The Collaborative team will work together with both parties in a joint effort to reach a satisfactory settlement that may include a parenting plan and/or an agreement on financial matters and support. The Pro Bono Project is time limited; accepted applicants receive a total of seven hours of professional service over two sessions. Potential clients are screened for suitability to the Collaborative Model, ability to resolve matters within the allocated time frame, and must fall under the financial thresholds for admittance to the Project. Both parties must be willing and able to meet together, in the same room, with the professionals to resolve matters.
If the couple is successful in resolving matters, they will have a signed agreement or Minutes of Settlement at the end of the second meeting, and instructions as to how to proceed with their divorce if they wish to do so.
The Pro Bono Project has developed specific protocols for the project that can be adopted by other Collaborative Practice groups who may want to initiate their own pro bono project. The BC Collaborative Roster Society has just received an additional grant to expand the project to Vancouver Island and to also develop a sliding scale or fixed fee model for Collaborative services.
The BC Family Justice Innovation Lab is supporting this initiative, particularly through the use of developmental evaluation which encourages an iterative “learning as you go” approach.
Click here for more information on the project webpage.
If you are a member of a Collaborative Practice Group and are interested in sharing our protocols to develop a pro bono or low bono project in your area, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
A special thank you to sponsors who have made this project possible: Jenkins Marzban Logan LLP Hamilton Fabbro, Heritage Law, Kahn Zack Ehrlich Lithwick LLP, Collaborative Divorce Vancouver and the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals.