The best interests of the child and the potential of collaborative family law : a critical analysis of collaborative lawyers' perspectives on important issues in collaborative practice


University of British Columbia

Date Issued


Document Type



Master of Laws - LLM




Children are very important to the future of Canadian society. In addition to being one of the most cherished aspects of parents’ lives, they represent Canada’s future politically, economically and socially. Family conflict, and resulting events such as divorce or separation, can represent a significant challenge to healthy child development. The manner in which family disputes are resolved between parents therefore has an important role to play in ensuring the healthy development of children. To that end, it is incumbent upon those engaged with the topic of family dispute resolution, to further explore family dispute resolution methods that have potential to help achieve these goals. Collaborative family law, with its emphasis on a more holistic approach to resolving family disputes, appears to be one promising method. The literature review contained herein reveals the potential of collaborative law to help children and families. It also identifies several key issues with the collaborative process that collaborative lawyers should think about when trying to achieve this goal. The interview study that forms a key part of this thesis is focused on the collaborative family law model practiced in the Vancouver area. The study involved semi-structured interviews of ten collaborative lawyers. A set of standard questions, and flexible follow ups as necessary, were asked of each lawyer, concerning difficult issues with collaborative family law as identified in the literature. The goal of these interviews was to obtain lawyers’ perspectives on important issues facing their practice. Few such studies have been done in Canada. The result was an in depth exploration and critical analysis of major issues facing those practicing collaborative family law, and how collaborative lawyers in the Vancouver area address these issues. The success of collaborative family law at maximizing its benefit to families is arguably contingent upon suitable families choosing the collaborative process, as well as the proper execution of the process to suit the individual needs of each family. Hopefully, the discussion herein will further the pursuit of these objectives.

Date Available



Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International




Law, Peter A. Allard School of