Collaborative Practice

Pro Bono Family Law Project

Frequently Asked Questions

Q:  I am separated and interested in applying, but not sure about my spouse.  Can you contact my spouse for me?

A:  The law student intake person cannot initiate first contact with either spouse.  You and your spouse each need to make contact, then attend for separate intake appointments to assess whether you qualify for the program.

Q:  Can my lawyer in the Pro Bono Collaborative Family Law Project represent me in court if we don’t settle?

A:  No.  The collaborative lawyers assigned to assist participants in this project cannot represent these participants in any court proceeding.  A lawyer’s representation is limited to 7 hours of collaborative negotiations.

Q:  Can the law student doing the intake provide me with legal advice?

A:  No.  The law student’s role is to provide basic information about the Pro Bono Collaborative Project, forward the required information forms to you, and meet with you once you have completed the forms and collected all the information.  If you qualify, the collaborative lawyer assigned will provide you with legal advice within the 7 hours allocated for your collaborative negotiations.

Q:  My spouse and I are already in court proceedings.  Can we try to settle using this Project?

A:  No, this Project is limited to couples who have not started any court proceedings and who are not already represented by lawyers.  The goal is to assist couples to reach a settlement without going to court.  If you are already involved in a court case but wish to explore settlement options, there may be other free or subsidized services available to help you - visit the Family Law Information Center at the courthouse for more information.  

Q:  What is a ‘neutral family professional’?

A:  Often this person is a social worker with specialized skills in assisting families through separation.  In a collaborative process a family professional participates at the meetings to assist both of you – they do not take sides.  They can help you develop a parenting plan for your children and/or improve your ability to communicate with your spouse during the negotiations about what is important for each of you.

Q:  What is a ‘neutral financial professional’?

A:  Like family professionals, financial professionals participate at the collaborative meetings to assist both of you - they do not take sides.  They help you both to understand your financial situation and implications for the future, consider options, and assist you to make more informed financial decisions.

Q:  What if my case is too complicated to resolve in 7 hours?

A:  Because of time constraints, the Pro Bono Collaborative Project is not suitable for complex cases.  Your case may be complex if one of you is self-employed, owns a business, or has a private pension. The Pro Bono Collaborative Project is also inappropriate for cases where there is high conflict between you and your spouse, very poor communication, or safety concerns.  Review our eligibility requirements for more details.

Please note that there is no guarantee of success in any family law resolution process.  Even you you qualify for the pro bono program, your case may not settle in the allotted 7 hours, for any number of reasons.  If your case does not settle, the professional team will speak with you about your options moving forward.

The Collaborative Process can often help address even complex cases, but it may require more time with your lawyer and the team to resolve difficult issues.  For more information about Collaborative Process, and to review a list of professionals who might be able to assist you on a for-fee basis, please visit