What to Expect
Learn the steps required to start the divorce process, including how our Kitchener family lawyer can help.
The Initial Consultation
When confronted with thoughts of pursuing a divorce, many people dread making that first call to a lawyer. That initial call and consultation with a divorce lawyer doesn’t mean that you’ve finally made a commitment to leave your partner. It could simply be the first step to gathering any information you might need.
Our advice – take a deep breath and relax. Relationships have different dynamics, and it’s ok to review your options and determine the best way forward. If you ever need to make that call, our divorce lawyers will always be here to listen and advise.
During the initial consultation, we will take the time to examine your options and provide the necessary information you need to decide what’s best for you. When you talk to our divorce lawyers, know that everything you say will be kept strictly confidential.
Should you decide to pursue a divorce, you will need an experienced lawyer to help you navigate the process. Please call our family lawyers on 519. 840.0853 or book the call online.
Identifying the Next Steps
There are two main ways to resolve the issues in your divorce in Kitchener – collaborative or out of court settlement or going to court and getting a judge’s Order. At M & Co. Law Firm, we’ve met many people who are fixed on taking the case to trial even though a settlement would be the best option for them. We have experienced divorce lawyers to guide our clients to pursue the best option for them.
Even though most divorce cases settle, it might be better to pursue a trial for your divorce. This is often an option that our lawyers recommend whenever it’s impossible to negotiate a fair settlement. It’s also not uncommon to begin with one process and end up pursuing the other. For instance, a divorce case may begin with negotiation and become impossible to settle fairly, respectfully, and effectively. In such a case, your divorce lawyers may recommend going to trial.
What is Collaborative Law, and How does it Work?
If you would like to get a divorce but avoid the lengthy and costly court process, consider collaborative law. Our family lawyers recommend the collaborative law approach as a great alternative that helps minimize the emotional burden and time required to arrive at a mutually agreeable decision.
Collaborative law results in a legally binding contract that both parties agree to. This process is designed to minimize conflict and to be non-adversarial, which simply means that the ex-partners have agreed to work together in good faith with the help of highly experienced collaborative lawyers and third-party specialists.
First things first, both parties will be required to form a collaborative team. This team will oversee the divorce/separation journey until a mutually agreeable decision is reached. Each party will be responsible for hiring a collaborative lawyer who is professionally trained and certified in leading this process. Both parties will then come together and hire a family professional who is often a social worker paid a joint retainer. The family professional is san integral part of the process, especially in divorces where children are involved. He/she will meet the children and make the interview process as friendly as possible. The parties will also work with a financial professional who will help the couple collect their financial facts which is required before negotiations can begin.
Parties who agree on the collaborative law approach must sign a contract that stipulates their commitment to negotiate in good faith and avoid the trial process. At the initial meeting, the collaborative lawyers and professional neutrals will meet without the spouses present to agree on the way forward. They will also set a date for the mandatory meeting where the entire collaborative team, including the spouses, will be present.
During the mandatory meeting, all parties that are present will engage in negotiations, and a list of issues will be discussed. There are several approaches to make these collaborative meetings more productive such as tackling the simpler issues at the beginning and then moving on to the more complex ones at the end.
Once the entire team meets, the collaborative lawyers and professionals will meet again without the spouses to debrief and set an agenda for the next meeting. The sessions will continue until an agreement is reached and all issues are addressed. Once all matters are acceptably resolved, and the two parties agree, both lawyers will meet again to start working on the legally binding document for review. The process will only be considered complete after the document is signed. The main advantages of the collaborative law process are that it can be less time-consuming, less costly and eliminates the need for public disclosure on your private divorce and separation matters, as is the case with court proceedings.
How Long Does the Collaborative Law Process Take?
After choosing the collaborative law process, one of the main concerns is the timeline and cost. Since people are unique and they face even more unique circumstances, the time that the collaborative approach takes will vary from one case to the other. What really determines how much time and money you spend on the collaborative process is how well the couples work together and the collaborative team in general.
We’ve worked with clients who opt for collaborative law in order to avoid costly and lengthy court proceedings. Some of our clients have chosen this option to preserve their relationship, especially when children are involved. We’ve seen such a resolution reducing the stress that comes with filing a divorce.
Another main benefit of the collaborative law process is that it may expedite the time it takes to split family assets, especially if one or both spouses are in dire need. Going through the court process can mean a long and costly battle that will only cause more pain.
The main idea behind working collaboratively with your spouse and other professionals is to have some control over your future and that of your children. A court of law may reach a decision that is not in your interest and doesn’t even meet the needs and interests of your ex or children. However, working collaboratively allows you also to control the amount of time it takes before a decision is reached, so you’re able to move on with your life.
Expect to spend anywhere between $20k and $30k in the collaborative law process, which typically takes 15 to 20 months. Again, this will be largely dependent on your willingness to work together on the issues raised.
Types of Divorce in Kitchener?
The divorce process can take two main approaches: Contested and uncontested divorce.
If parties are unable to agree on all the issues raised in the divorce, including children-related matters and financial obligations, it becomes a contested divorce. Even if parties agree on everything apart from a single issue, the divorce will still be considered contested.
Contested divorce proceedings become even more complex when children are involved. Spouses who end their relationship on bad terms will often end up in a contested divorce battle. Most of what the couple disagrees about includes:
- Child support
- Spousal support
- Parenting arrangements (Decision making)
- Custody matters (Parenting time)
- Division of assets
Just because you are pursuing a contested divorce doesn’t mean the case has to go to trial. Out-of-trial settlements may still be an option for you to get the issues raised addressed amicably without the lengthy trial process.
However, if unable to resolve the matter through mediation and settlement meetings, we have divorce lawyers to initiate the trial process for a decision to be made by the courts. This is often considered a last resort due to the length of time, stress and costs involved when the case goes to trial.
A divorce can be relatively easy to pursue when it is uncontested. In an uncontested divorce, both parties come to an agreement on the issues raised in the divorce. This means that divorce can be granted without taking the matter to court.
Keep in mind that a divorce will automatically become uncontested if a spouse is served with divorce papers but chooses not to respond within a given time period. The court perceives that failure to file an answer means that the spouse agrees to the issues raised, and the divorce becomes uncontested.
The uncontested divorce process is a much smoother and quicker option to pursue divorce. It also takes less money on legal fees.
Frequently Asked Questions
When you begin the journey of pursuing a divorce, the actions you take going forward may dictate the outcome of the process. Some actions can make your divorce proceedings a little more difficult and hence should be avoided. Let’s go over a few things you should not do during a divorce:
- Providing information about the divorce process in public forums like social media
- Proving to your ex that you’ve moved on by showing off the new partner even to your children
- Making large purchases or selling your property or cars before the divorce is finalized
- Taking steps not to disclose all your assets, such as hiding them from your lawyer
- Failing to remain calm, especially during negotiations with your ex
Is there an ideal time to contact a divorce lawyer? The sooner the better. As soon as you start contemplating pursuing a divorce or separation, you should contact a family lawyer. Whether you just started thinking about separating from your partner after noticing some changes in your relationship or your spouse has already expressed their desire to get a divorce, having that initial consultation with a lawyer can help you get the information you need early. The sooner you make that call, the better off you will be to ensure the process is well-handled by a professional right from the start.
The divorce process can take a toll on your emotions and finances, to say the least. It makes sense to take your time and find a divorce lawyer who will walk with you through the process and ease the emotional and financial burden it brings. You want a lawyer who not only comes with the skill and experience to fight for your best interests but also educates you on your rights and options. When you begin performing due diligence on potential divorce lawyers, here are a few questions you should ask:
- Which area of law does your practice specialize in?
- Have you handled divorce matters similar to mine?
- How do you communicate with the client while pursuing a divorce case?
- Are there any challenges or concerns you anticipate from what you know so far about my divorce case?
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 …
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At M & Co. Law Firm, 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 Lawyer – Toronto
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