A boutique Toronto law firm changing the way people divorce
Our divorce lawyers help clients navigate the emotional, financial and legal issues in divorce.
Our legal process
Find out about what to expect when you choose a divorce lawyer at Toronto Musson Morneau LLP.
The first call
Making the first call to a lawyer can often be difficult but it doesn’t mean you are committing to getting divorced or even initiating the process. It’s about gathering information. However, If you are making the call…
…we understand that there are issues within your relationship and that you are evaluating the best path forward – and we’re here to listen as well as advise.
The call will not be stressful and there is no charge for an initial consultation. We will spend time speaking to you about your issues and options and provide you with the information you need to make the decision to divorce on your own terms. If you believe that divorce is the right option to best move forward, we want you to make sure you choose the right process for you.
Once you have decided to divorce, the two most important decisions you make will involve choosing the right lawyer and choosing the right process.
When you are ready, please call 647.957.9545 or book the call online.
Choosing your process
At Musson Morneau LLP, our cases are classified into one of two streams. The first stream is Collaborative/Settlement-Focused, and the second stream is Litigation. The skill set needed to negotiate and work collaboratively is very different from the skill set required to be an effective trial lawyer. Many lawyers claim to be able to navigate both types of cases, but in our experience, this is not the case. We have specifically delineated these cases. We are happy to have the bench strength to offer our clients highly skilled lawyers in both streams.
One significant benefit to the two-stream model is that sometimes your case starts in one stream but then, due to various factors, needs to be re-evaluated and realigned to the other stream. We can do this seamlessly and without additional cost.
Collaborative law is an alternative to the traditional court-based approach that avoids costly court proceedings, preserves relationships and greatly reduces stress and the time required to reach a mutually agreeable…
…legally binding separation agreement. It is non-adversarial and requires both parties to work together in good faith through a participation agreement that is facilitated by a team of two specially trained Collaborative Lawyers and neutral third-party specialists.
The process begins with the assembly of a ‘Collaborative Team’ that will manage or ‘steward’ the journey, which starts with each party hiring a Collaborative Lawyer who is specially trained and certified in the collaborative process. We then engage the expert services of a Financial Neutral, jointly chosen by the clients to evaluate, manage, and sort through family assets, while determining realistic and forward-looking budgets. If children are involved, a Social Worker is included on the Collaborative Team. Both parties agree upon the choice of a social worker, who is hired on a joint retainer. This social worker can also meet with the children alone and help give them a voice (in a safe way), making the process as child-focused as possible. This collective of professionals forms the Collaborative Team.
The clients then sign a participation agreement, attesting that they are not proceeding to court and are going to negotiate in good faith. This paves the way for the collaborative approach. Next, the Collaborative Team meets without the spouses and agrees upon an agenda for the first meeting. A date is then set for a mandatory, in-person (or through online video during times of physical distancing) meeting involving the entire team and the spouses, at which time the parties arrive prepared to negotiate. A full list of issues is addressed in this meeting. Sometimes we start with the smaller, simpler issues first and then move to the more complex areas. This helps establish trust in the process, trust in the team, and trust in the clients’ ability to reach agreements.
Afterward, the Collaborative Team members debrief, without the clients present. At this time, they set an agenda for the next meeting. This process is followed until all issues are acceptably resolved. When all the issues have been dealt with successfully, both of the Collaborative Lawyers work together in preparing a legally binding separation agreement for review. Once this agreement has been signed, the process is complete – without the time, stress, expense, and public disclosure associated with traditional court-based processes.
The timeline & cost
Once people understand and have chosen the process, they often next want to understand the timeline and cost. While there is no standard timeline and budget (as each process and the people involved…
…are unique), we can provide insight into how couples working together can control these important factors.
Collaborative law is a non-adversarial approach to divorce that avoids costly court proceedings, preserves relationships, and greatly reduces stress. It’s also a proven and reliable way to expedite timelines and preserve family assets. Traditional court-based approaches are not only much more expensive and painful, but they typically take much longer, as the schedule of the court often determines the speed of the process.
A collaborative approach operates under the assumption that the parties involved are the best decision-makers for their futures, and the futures of their children, not a judge. This means the timeline of the overall path to resolution is within the control of the two spouses and determined by their ability to work together in good faith.
While the Collaborative Team (which includes two specially trained Collaborative Lawyers and neutral third-party specialists) will steward the process, the ability of the spousal parties to resolve the set of issues will ultimately drive the schedule, the amount of resources applied, and ultimately the cost.
While there is no standard timeline and budget, resolutions usually cost between $20K –$30K in total cost and shared between the spouses and require between 6-15 months. But again, the speed and cost are largely determined by the ability of the two parties to work together.
Types of Divorce in Toronto
There are two main types of divorce in Toronto:
A contested divorce occurs when spouses disagree on some or all issues raised in the divorce. Disagreeing on just a single issue will categorize the divorce as contested.
A divorce may be contested for various reasons. It’s not uncommon for spouses to disagree on several issues, particularly when children are involved and if the couple is ending their relationship on a bad note.
Divorcing spouses often have disagreements about:
When a divorce is contested, you do not have to immediately file in court. Mediation and out-of-court settlements are excellent options we can use to try to resolve your matter without filing for a contested divorce.
If you are still unable to resolve, spouses must file court documents stating their positions on the disputed issues.
Contested divorces are typically more drawn out than uncontested divorces. The length of time to finalize the divorce will largely depend on the nature of the disagreements and the willingness of the parties to come to a resolution.
If spouses are unable to come to an agreement on all of the issues, the case may have to go to trial. The vast majority of divorces are settled before the case reaches this point.
An uncontested divorce is when both spouses agree on all issues that are raised in the divorce. When spouses are in agreement, courts will typically finalize the divorce without requiring a court appearance.
A divorce becomes “uncontested” when the spouse that has been served chooses not to file an Answer within the required time period. Failure to file an Answer automatically makes the divorce uncontested.
Uncontested divorces move much quicker than contested divorces, and they can save divorcing couples money on legal fees.
Frequently Asked Questions
Divorce proceedings can be a very stressful time, and taking certain actions while in the midst of these proceedings can often make things worse. Here is some advice for actions you should avoid during a divorce:
- Posting about your divorce on social media
- Flaunting a new relationship in front of your ex or your children
- Selling or purchasing cars or property (or other expensive items)
- Hiding assets or other information from your lawyer
- Losing your temper during discussions with your ex
You should contact a divorce lawyer as soon as you think you may need one! Whether that means you have begun to notice challenges in your marriage you think will be insurmountable, or if you have already had the conversation with your spouse and have decided a divorce is the best decision, a lawyer can help with every step of the process. The sooner you begin to work with a Toronto divorce lawyer, the better off you will be because they will be able to run the whole process smoothly for you from the get-go.
Choosing a divorce lawyer is an important step that will lay the groundwork for the entire process you are about to face. You want to know that your Toronto divorce lawyer has the experience and knowledge necessary to fight for your best interests. When speaking with potential lawyers, here are a few questions you can ask in order to get to know them better:
- Does your practice focus on family law?
- What experience do you have with divorces similar to mine?
- How will we communicate throughout the divorce process?
- Based on what you know about my situation what challenges do you think I might possibly run into?
The goal of collaboratively family law is to allow those who are in the middle of a divorce or separation, to work in a collaborative manner with …
Divorce is about moving forward and starting a new chapter. If you have settled all your other matrimonial issues or you are just starting the process, we are here to help.
If you and your spouse are in agreement on the terms of your separation, you are free to put your decisions into a separation agreement…
At Musson Morneau LLP, we understand the importance of finding the right fit for your representation. We take the time to get to know our clients and create a strategic plan that will help them to move forward and make a positive change in their lives. Get in touch so we can learn more about your goals and how we can help you reach them.
Anna-Marie Musson, Managing Partner – Toronto
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