When going through a divorce or separation, there are a number of paths you can take. The most important thing at the end of the day is to get legal advice from a lawyer, so you understand your rights and obligations under the law.
The divorce or separation process generally proceeds as follows:
The phases are the same, but there are very different approaches to getting from beginning to end. Below is information on Mediation, Collaborative, Traditional Negotiation, Litigation, Arbitration and Experts. Our lawyers at Tkachuk & Patterson can help you with any one of these options.
In mediation, you and your ex-spouse meet in person with a trained, neutral mediator to work through everything in your separation. Usually, lawyers do not attend. A mediator is highly trained in facilitating open, honest settlement discussions in a safe space, to help people reach agreements that work for both sides. Everything said during mediation is confidential and cannot be used against you in court. The final decision on how to end your separation and move on is made by you and your ex. At the end, both you and your ex will sign the settlement agreement with a lawyer to get full legal advice. The mediator does not provide legal advice.
We do mediation! Contact us.
Collaborative Family Law
In this process, both you and your spouse have a full-time lawyer from the beginning. All four people attend settlement meetings together, and communicate between meetings with everyone in the loop. You and your ex each have your own highly trained Registered Collaborative Lawyer and promise not to go to Court. Like mediation, you get your say, everything is confidential and off the record, and the final decision is made by you and your ex. Unlike mediation, your lawyer is always part of the process and you don’t have to find an outside lawyer to sign the final agreement.
We have a Registered Collaborative Family Lawyer! Contact us.
Traditional Negotiated Settlement
Even without being a mediator or collaborative lawyer, all lawyers have negotiation training and experience. Even after traditional court processes have started, negotiation and settlement happens. Lawyers can meet in settlement meetings with the clients to discuss options, reach a settlement agreement and get all the paperwork done. Some matters can be resolved through e-mail, telephone and letters, without you and your ex having to meet in person. The final decisions is made by the parties.
The issue with this approach compared to Collaborative Law is that the threat of court can always be tossed around, and not all lawyers are as highly trained in cooperative dispute resolution.
You can bring your negotiated agreement to our office to be put into legally binding documents, get legal advice or hire one of our lawyers to represent you throughout the negotiation.
Parenting Coordination, Coaches and Other Experts
Parenting Coordinators help with communication and cooperation between parents for the purpose of effectively co-parenting their children after separation. If you are having trouble with the parenting of your children post-separation, a parenting coordinator or parenting coach may be an option for you, with or without other settlement processes or need for a lawyer.
Your financial matters can be very complex, and there are often tax consequences of separation. The assistance of financial advisors, accountants and business valuators can make a big difference in resolving financial and property disputes that arise in a separation.
Parenting Coordinators, psychologists, financial planners and accountants can all be important members of the Mediation or Collaborative team, to assist in clarifying the tough questions that come up in settlement discussions.
The process of fighting in court is called “litigation”. There is a strong consensus among psychologists, lawyers and judges that fighting in court on family matters does far more damage than good. Litigation is extremely stressful for those in it and is highly toxic for children. The court process is slow, expensive and public. You can expect a litigation to take a number of years and to cost tens of thousands in legal fees. At the end of the day, you do not get to make decisions. Steps are decided by the court rules and the final decision is made by a judge, who does not know you or your life.
You could try to take on the court process yourself, but without a lawyer, knowing how to navigate the process and what makes a fair result can be overwhelming and confusing.
Some matters simply can't be resolved outside of court and litigation is necessary. At our office, we have highly experienced and skilled litigators invested in presenting the best possible case before the court. We can represent you in Court. However, seeing the risk and cost of court for our clients, we believe court should be a last resort only when other options have proven unsuccessful.
Like litigation, arbitration is adversarial. If you cannot come to an agreement, you go to a neutral third party to make a binding decision for you, like a judge. Unlike court, the process is private, controlled, and can be less formal and much faster, as you are not stuck with the scheduling constraints and lack of resources at the court house. Unlike mediation or collaborative, an adversarial process usually means higher legal costs, and the final decision is entirely out of your control.
We are not arbitrators, but can represent you at an arbitration.
No matter which route you take, it is important to always get independent legal advice from a lawyer before making any major decisions or signing any documents.
Did you know?
95% of mediation and
collaborative files are successful in
reaching a full, final legal
agreement, in less time than a
Both mediation and collaborative
law are family-centred conflict
resolution processes that end with
a mutually agreeable solution.
Tkachuk & Patterson