Our legal process
The first call
The breakdown of your marriage can be difficult to deal with. Seeing a divorce lawyer for the first time is often daunting. Most people experience different emotions when their relationship fails. You may experience feelings of anger, fear, anxiety, hurt, or even depression. Perhaps you have been enduring endless conflict at home and losing sleep over your relationship. You might even be wondering how your children will handle the news of your impending divorce.
Our Toronto divorce lawyer understands the emotions that surround divorce. We will try our best to make you feel as comfortable as possible. A divorce is a life-changing event full of crucial decisions. Our lawyers will help you every step of the way and explain your legal options, rights, and responsibilities clearly.
During the initial consultation, your divorce lawyer will ask you to describe a little bit about your situation, including why you seek a divorce lawyer. You will probably have thousands of questions and concerns buzzing around your head. Our lawyer will answer these questions and help you know what to expect. You can always count on our support and guidance at this trying moment.
Choosing your process
At Musson Morneau LLP, we usually adopt two divorce approaches: settlement-focused collaborative divorce and litigation. Also known as settlement-based divorce, collaborative divorce is an out-of-court legal divorce process that allows couples to work together to achieve a settlement that satisfies both spouses and protects the children.
The divorce process is not easy, especially when there are children involved. Even if you and your partner agree on most things, you could still disagree with others. Therefore, what started as a collaborative divorce could end up as litigation. Our lawyers are well-versed in both collaborative and litigation divorce.
Many lawyers claim to be experienced in both collaborative divorce and litigation, but this is not the case. When choosing a lawyer, you should verify their skillset and experience. Even if your case starts as one stream, then changes to the other, our lawyers at Musson Morneau LLP will handle it to the end at no extra cost.
Collaborative divorce is an alternative to the adversarial court process or litigation. Both spouses enter into the collaborative process voluntarily and commit to resolving their issues cooperatively and respectfully, with the help of their lawyers and a team of professionals. If you and your spouse agree to avoid the court process, you must be open and willing to provide full disclosure to the other party voluntarily. The settlement will be based on the assumption that both parties have acted in good faith and provided honest and truthful information prior to the settlement. You must also be prepared to compromise to get to a fair resolution.
During a collaborative divorce, you and your spouse participate in your own negotiated settlement process. Collaborative divorce lawyers who are specifically trained in collaborative law assist you in reaching a common agreement. If you cannot agree on a settlement, you both find new lawyers to take your divorce case to court. Collaborative law revolves around respect and cooperation. It seeks to help couples reach a negotiated agreement out of court in a safe and private setting.
You must both sign a collaborative participation agreement. This agreement states that you both commit to negotiating and resolution; the agreement prevents either spouse from litigating against the other while the negotiations are ongoing. The agreement could also include other provisions like:
- A commitment to resolve your differences in an amicable manner
- Commitment to maintaining constructive communication throughout the process
- A commitment to fully disclose your assets and liabilities
- Involvement of collaborative divorce lawyers to help you reach a settlement
- The use of neutral experts like divorce coaches, children’s specialists, and financial advisers to facilitate the process
The first step in a collaborative divorce involves forming a collaborative team to oversee the divorce process. Each spouse hires a lawyer who is experienced in collaborative law matters. The clients will then jointly choose a Financial Neutral to manage the family assets. A Family Professional is often included in the collaborative team if children are involved.
The collaborative team first meets in the absence of the parties to map out a way forward. They then set a date for all the collaborative team members and spouses to be present. A wide range of issues is discussed during this meeting. When all the issues have been addressed and the parties reach an agreement, the collaborative lawyers prepare a legally-binding separation agreement. The divorce process is complete once the separation agreement has been signed.
The collaborative divorce process gives both parties more control over the negotiation and the outcome. In collaborative law, the partners set the parameters and items of discussion in advance. The collaborative divorce process uses a team approach by involving collaborative divorce professionals to help spouses make informed decisions. Compared to litigation, collaborative law is less costly and less time-consuming. Collaborative divorce provides a more positive experience and results in better agreements.
The timeline & cost
If you and your spouse have decided to end your marriage and would like to part ways in an amicable manner, getting a collaborative divorce is one of the most viable options. A collaborative divorce involves working together to reach an agreement out of court. During this process, a team of professionals will help you define the terms of your divorce and reach a mutual agreement. Collaborative divorce helps you to have a friendly divorce and avoid court, thus eliminating a lot of emotional distress. What most people wonder about is how long a collaborative divorce process takes and how much it will cost them.
The cost of collaborative divorce will vary depending on several factors. For example, every specialist on the collaborative divorce team will charge their own fee. They could impose a flat fee or charge on an hourly basis. The cost of the collaborative divorce will also depend on how long it takes to conclude the divorce process. The longer it takes to conclude the divorce, the more it will cost. Again, the period it takes to conclude your divorce will depend on its complexity and the issues involved. Especially if issues like parenting time, child support, and spousal support are involved, the process will take longer.
On average, the cost of a collaborative divorce is about $30k, but this will depend on the unique characteristics of your divorce. It may take 10 to 12 months to conclude the divorce. The cost and the speed of your divorce highly depend on whether you and your partner are willing to cooperate and work together.
Types of Divorce in Waterloo
There are two main types of divorce:
This is a divorce where the spouses cannot agree on their divorce issues, ending in court to have the judge decide for them. The court considers your divorce contested when you disagree on one or all of the issues involved. If any disagreement arises between the divorcing couple, it is left upon the court to settle the disagreement. Most disagreements in divorce normally revolve around:
In a contested divorce, each side expresses their position on the issues. The court determines how each of the issues will be resolved through a series of court attendances. There are several ways of settling a contested divorce which include: arbitration, a court-ordered mediation, settlement discussions between your lawyers or via a formal trial and court order.
The main drawback of a contested divorce is that both sides lose all control and they leave the decision up to a third party judge. It is also costlier and takes more time than an uncontested divorce. The final decision or outcome of the divorce lies with the judge, who makes a decision based on the information provided. A contested divorce is emotionally exhausting since it involves an uncertain court process. This uncertainty causes a lot of stress and anxiety for the participants.
In the case of an uncontested divorce, the spouses agree that the marriage has come to an end and also agree on all the terms of their separation. Because all the terms of the divorce are agreeable to both parties, the parties do not need to go to court. In this type of divorce, parties have resolved any potential issues like parenting time, property division, and child and spousal support as outlined in the separation agreement.
Uncontested divorces are usually concluded faster than contested divorces because both parties are in agreement. For this reason, uncontested divorces are less stressful and less costly for all the parties involved. Couples don’t always start off as in agreement but can get there through settlement meetings or mediation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Whether you must be separated or not before you file for divorce depends on your situation. There is an archaic law which does permit faster divorces if you’re a victim of cruelty or adultery. However, it is very rare for a court to make such an order. It is also very difficult and costly to prove these grounds for divorce. Even if you can prove cruelty or adultery, it is unlikely with the court delays that you will get your matter before the judge earlier than one year. Courts do not like to get involved in determining “fault” for divorce.
In Ontario, you need to be separated for one year before a divorce order can be granted. To be separated, one side must have told the other that the relationship is over and there is no chance of reconciliation. You and your spouse could be living in the same house, yet you are considered separated for purposes of divorce.
The law does not require you to hire a lawyer when filing for divorce. However, the divorce process is complicated. Seeking legal counsel and the representation of a divorce lawyer helps you to ensure that you take all the necessary actions on time, that your rights are protected, and that your divorce progresses promptly and smoothly.
Divorce lawyers are experienced, enabling them to deal with issues more effectively and efficiently than a lay person who lacks knowledge and experience would. A lawyer also has greater access to resources to ensure that your rights are well protected.
- When you and your spouse have been separated for one year or more
- Adultery- this is where you bring a divorce proceeding against the person who has committed adultery. You cannot initiate a divorce proceeding based on your own adultery.
- Cruelty – physical or emotional abuse that makes it intolerable for spouses to live together.
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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