At your consultation, you can expect to have a discussion on the different types of resolution methods routinely used in family law disputes. Based on the facts of your case and the direction your matter is heading, we will recommend a course of action that will best serve your family’s situation while achieving a resolution that is consistent with your objectives. There are various pathways that can be taken, namely, negotiation, mediation/arbitration, collaborative and if necessary, court.
Lawyer to lawyer negotiation is the first step that is taken in most family law disputes. During this process information or disclosure is exchanged and attempts are made between the parties through lawyers to reach an amicable agreement. Settlement is achieved through written correspondence, telephone calls and/or four-way settlement meetings (or a combination of all the above). This is one of the most cost efficient methods of resolving your family law matter if settlement can be achieved.
Mediation is a process of resolving disputes that involves retaining a third party mediator (typically a senior family law lawyer) who attempts to achieve settlement by helping the parties resolve their differences through bargaining. When appropriate, you and your spouse can elect to attend mediation without lawyers present, however we will continue to be involved in assisting with financial matters, drawing up a final agreement, speaking with the mediator and will continue to provide advice during the process. In many cases, clients choose to seek the help of a mediator but wish to have counsel attend so that the mediation session is most productive and streamlined.
When parties cannot reach an agreement through negotiation or mediation but wish to opt out of the court system, the next step is arbitration. Arbitration is essentially a private court process where parties select a neutral person to adjudicate the dispute(s). In some cases, clients decide to mediate/arbitrate, meaning that if the matter does not settle through mediation, the matter automatically heads toward arbitration. Parties can also decide to use the same mediator as arbitrator – the advantages and disadvantages of using the same third party will be thoroughly explored with your lawyer.
What’s a collaborative divorce?
Collaborative Practice aims to resolve family disputes without going to court – and requires a written commitment from all parties and professionals to confirm this. Children always come first. The focus is on you and your family, while addressing the issues in a respectful and transparent manner, including full financial disclosure.
You and your spouse are assisted by specially trained Collaborative Family Lawyers – often with support and guidance from jointly retained family and financial professionals. Discussions and negotiations take place in meetings where goals and interests are emphasized, along with information on the law; you and your spouse are actively involved. The process encourages creative and “out of the box” settlements, rather than a formulaic approach. The resolution is tailored to fit your particular family and is formalized in a separation agreement.
The Collaborative Process can be used in very challenging cases if the couple is committed to an out of court settlement and has a skilled team of professionals. For families with financially complex issues, it offers a real opportunity to avoid the “battle of the experts” that the adversarial process tends to encourage. Jointly retained experts will attend meetings and provide information and insight into areas that might be contested in a court room so that comprehensive legal and financial settlements can be crafted in a timely and cost effective way.
Collaborative Practice requires both parties to have collaboratively trained lawyers. It offers more support for each spouse than mediation, which is best suited for spouses who are able to advocate for themselves. More information about the process , including videos and contact information for professionals trained in it, can be found at www.collaborativepracticetoronto.com and www.oclf.ca.
In some cases, the court process is the best alternative to resolve your family law dispute. This process is often explored after attempts at negotiation and mediation are exhausted. Litigation is commenced for many reasons, and in rare instances, results in a trial. There are situations which demand litigation and will sometimes become apparent during your consultation. We will not hesitate to vigourously advocate on your behalf, while guiding you through the court process and toward settlement by keeping you informed of your options.
We are highly experienced in all aspects of litigation. We have conducted trials throughout Ontario and have appeared before the Ontario Court of Appeal and Divisional Court on a number of occasions.