Separation & Divorce:
Every family law file has two equally important components.
The first is the legal issues that are involved. Each file in different, depending on whether the parties were married or just living together, whether there are children involved, or if there is a sharing of mutual property. Family law can also include criminal proceedings, employment law issues, business law issues, tax law issues, and many other areas of the law. In meeting with you, we identify all the legal issues your situation brings as a first step in determining your options for resolution.
The second important factor in resolving family disputes is the choice of what dispute resolution process you wish to use, to best meet your own personal needs. The choice of process will affect your file in a number of ways including cost of legal fees, the length of time it may take to resolve your file, how much personal control you have over the process and the outcome, and the levels of stress and conflict between the parties. Potential dispute resolution methods can include:
You and your spouse determine how to resolve the issues of your separation or divorce, by speaking to each other directly. We can provide you with advice in advance of discussions, or during your direct negotiations to ensure you are aware of the law and any concerns with the terms being proposed.
You would then advise us of the terms agreed to and we can prepare a formal separation agreement to finalize your decided terms. We will discuss the importance of financial disclosure and independent legal advice for both parties, and fine tune the terms of your agreement to ensure that it will cover you in the event that your issues have to be litigated in the future.
Our office will negotiate directly with your spouse (if they are not hiring a lawyer to represent them) or your spouse’s lawyer to negotiate the terms of your separation or divorce. For most clients, we are able to assist them to reach a mutually acceptable agreement without moving forward into court. One lawyer will draft a separation agreement, and the other will provide suggested revisions and independent legal advice to the other spouse.
Mediation is where the parties meet together with a mediator, who acts as a neutral third party and referee. The mediator controls the conversation between the parties to identify the issues, gather information required to reach a viable solution, and encourages both parties to provide input into the potential resolution options to reach a settlement that is agreeable to both parties.
The parties are encouraged to seek legal advice from independent counsel, who will review the terms of settlement and ensure that each party is aware of their rights and obligations under the proposed agreement before signing.
Collaborative Family Law
Collaborative Family Law (CFL) is a process where the parties, with the assistance of specially trained counsel, attempt to balance their interests in a holistic, co-operative manner with minimal conflict. It involves three key components; a expressed intention to avoid court; an honest exchange of information; and a promise to take into account the goals and best interests of both spouses and the children.
The process is undertaken with two lawyers who are specifically trained in the CFL process. Other professionals such as financial planners, accountants, appraisers, family counsellors, life coaches and parenting coordinators, who are also trained in CFL, can be brought in to assist as necessary.
This form of dispute resolution is generally the most costly method of resolution. It involves bringing all legal issues in front of a judge through the commencement of a family law application, where each party tells their story and a judge ultimately makes a final decision.
It often involves many hours of preparation of court documents, attendances at the court house, travel time, stress, long time lines for resolution and significant conflict between the parties. It is not the ideal process to deal with the problems that stem from the end of a relationship, but unfortunately it is sometimes necessary.
Court can be attended with a lawyer hired to do all of the work, or with a lawyer working to provide unbundled services.
Arbitration is a form of private court, where the parties hire a third party lawyer who has been specially trained to give binding decisions in lieu of attending court. The parties prepare materials and present them to the arbitrator, give testimony and provide case law to support their position. The arbitrator then delivers a decision that is binding in the same way a court order would be.