Family Mediation Lawyer Toronto
Let our family mediation lawyer in Toronto help you with your legal matters.
What is a Family MediationFamily mediation is a confidential legal process that married couples, unmarried parents, or common law partners enter voluntarily in order to resolve their family law concerns out of court. At family mediation, an impartial third party who is a skilled professional mediator helps both parties carefully consider their best options and attempt to come together in agreement over issues that they would otherwise likely need the court’s intervention in order to resolve. While mediators do not provide legal advice and do not render final decisions, they can help both sides gather legal information and explore potential options, helping to create solutions that are unique to that family based on their needs. Every category of family law concerns can be addressed in mediation, including all the following:
- Division of property
- Child support and expenses for the children
- Spousal support
- The drafting of domestic documents, including cohabitation agreements and marriage contracts
What Are the Benefits of Family Mediation?Mediation is generally a less time-consuming, more cost-effective, and more dignified and calmer process than resolving a family law concern in court. In other words, family mediation has many benefits. Perhaps one of the most important benefits of family mediation, however, is that couples aren’t required to relinquish their right to make decisions on their own (and their family’s) behalf. Further, mediation can help reduce acrimony, which not only takes pressure off the couple but can also help decrease the stress the involved children experience. Children have a tendency to internalize their parents’ strife, which is an excellent reason for turning down the heat and focusing on moving forward with as little drama as possible. All told, resolving your family law case in mediation is very likely to benefit everyone involved, including you and your children.
What You Can Expect From Family Mediation Lawyers in Toronto
- Help determining if your case is a good candidate for mediation. This includes screening for intimate partner violence and coercive control, determining whether mediation is appropriate and, if so, what adaptations to the process are appropriate and necessary
- Help identifying the exact issues that need to be resolved in your case and identifying any potential complications you may not have considered
- The personal attention you need to determine your priorities and the best strategy for achieving them
- Understanding your worries and concerns and helping you address them
- An opportunity to engage in a facilitated environment to best help you and your family moving forward
- The insight to carefully weigh the financial and personal implications of potential options
- Help with keeping the lines of communication open between you and your ex and continuing to move matters forwardWhen you turn to family mediation lawyers in Toronto you can expect all the following:
What You Can Not Expect From Family Mediation Lawyers in TorontoWhile your family mediation lawyer is there to help and has a lot to offer, there are certain things you should not expect, including:
- You should not expect your family mediation lawyer to make your decisions for you. Only you can determine what the best option for you and your family is.
- You should not expect your family mediation lawyer to make your ex more amenable to negotiations or compromise. If the other party is trying to make the situation as difficult as possible, mediation is unlikely to change their stance, which means it’s unlikely to be a great option.
Different Types of Family MediationFamily mediation is not a one-size-fits-all proposition, and there’s likely to be a form that suits your needs. An accredited mediator can help you adapt a process that will work best for you and your family.
Virtual MediationVirtual mediation, which is conducted on an online video conference platform like Zoom, helps to make mediation more accessible. Everyone is busy, and taking time off work or travelling in order to attend mediation isn’t always a viable option. Further, remaining calm and focusing on negotiations can be difficult if you find being in your ex’s presence distressing. The fact is that family law concerns tend to be fraught with emotion, and the distance afforded by virtual mediation can help considerably. Further, synching the schedules of all the parties involved, including the mediator, you and your ex, and your respective mediation lawyers can be challenging and can drag out the process as a result. By cutting out travel time, the issue of parking, and everything else that goes with being where you need to be when you need to be there, you can save a considerable amount of time and inconvenience. Finally, virtual mediation tends to be more focused, which can expedite the process and ultimately cost less. Practiced family law mediators in Toronto are standing by to help.
Shuttle MediationShuttle mediation can happen in real-time or can be conducted virtually, and it refers to mediation in which the mediator shuttles back and forth between the two parties, ensuring that they don’t have to be in the same space – whether that means in the same physical or virtual space. As such, you and your ex – along with your respective family mediation lawyers – will negotiate through the mediator, which can be especially advantageous if being in the same room with your ex is something that you’re better off avoiding. Consider the following potential benefits:
- Having the mediator shuttle back and forth between you and your ex allows you to focus on the issue at hand – rather than on the emotions that arise when you’re required to interact with them.
- If you tend to shut down around your ex, are intimidated by them, or simply aren’t at your best around them, shuttle mediation can be an excellent workaround.
- You can count on the mediator to keep the tone neutral, which can help to move even contentious matters forward.
How Our Family Mediation Lawyer Can HelpIf you are facing a family law matter, such as the terms of divorce or parenting concerns outside of marriage, mediation offers a range of benefits that may save you time, legal expense, emotional turmoil, and even frustration while helping to protect your legal rights throughout the process. At Musson Morneau LLP – proudly serving Toronto – our compassionate Toronto family mediation lawyers dedicate their impressive practice to helping clients like you negotiate beneficial terms that work for them and their children, and we are also standing by for you. To learn more about the services we offer, please do not delay contacting or calling us at 416-862-0980 today.
Frequently Asked Questions
A marriage contract is an agreement that a couple makes when they are planning to marry, about what happens to their assets and debts if the breakup. They may also address if and how much will be paid in spousal support (alimony) from one person to the other.
A cohabitation agreement is an agreement that a couple makes who are not married but who want to live together, outlining what happens to their assets and debts, if they break up. They also may address spousal support (alimony) in the agreement.
The sooner the better. Timing is everything. The sooner you bring this up with your partner, the better it is. If you are 3 months or less away from your wedding day, we recommend you sign the prenup after the wedding. Yes – that is a real thing that a lot of couples do so they aren’t rushed leading up to the wedding.
You also want your partner to take time to process the idea of a prenup if he/she wasn’t expecting it.
You need to time talk about the terms of the agreement – we give you an idea of things you need to decide, you still ultimately need to be the decision maker.
You need time to put together your net worth statement and collect your financials –your bank statements or mortgage statements.
You also need time so your lawyer can draft the agreement and explain it to you so you understand exactly what you are signing.
A postnup is the exact same thing as a prenup – it is just signed after the wedding. It lays out the terms of what happens if the couple separates. It includes how your assets and property will be divided, how spousal support will be paid, if spousal support will be paid. These agreements do not include terms about parenting time, decision making or child support.
If you are married, your home is considered a matrimonial home. This means that each person, regardless of who is on title or what a prenup says, has the right to live there. Basically you can’t kick your spouse out of the family home because you have a prenup. However, the prenup can deal with who keeps the home on break up. How the home proceeds are to be divided can be especially important as one person may have contributed more than the other. Without a prenup the law does not give a credit to the person who purchased or contributed to the matrimonial home. This is why it is so important that the couple get a prenup or a postnup, especially if one person contributed more or brought the property into the relationship.
Anyone who plans to get married or live with a partner should get a prenup. They don’t just protect the ultra wealthy anymore. If you have income or assets, you need to consider this. A big misconception is that a prenup will result in one person being protected in terms of their assets and the other person being left destitute. That is not the case. Agreements actually provide security so you know exactly what happens if you break up. The agreement also has to be fair. An agreement that is completely one sided would never stand up to scrutiny by a judge and will be easily overturned.
Be honest. Talk about why YOU want the prenup. It is not about the other person or that you don’t trust the other person but reasons you want it. Some clients have wanted a prenup to protect an inheritance from a grandmother or to preserve a family cottage that has been in the family for hundreds of years. Losing half the interest in either asset could be emotionally devastating. Other clients want to ensure that they are protected in the event of separation. They may be moving cities to be with the one they love. They need some certainty that if they break up that they will be taken care of. At the end of the day, the couples who are honest and open about their finances have the best success rate and have more fulfilling relationships. Adding a discussion about prenups to your discussions about finances is just another item on the financial checklist.
A prenup will be enforced unless it is challenged. Like any contract, a prenup can be challenged but it is very difficult to do. There is a big risk to a person who challenges a properly prepared prenup. An agreement that follows the law, there has been full and honest financial disclosure and there has been independent legal advice will stand up well to scrutiny. If the person who challenges the agreement does so and is not successful, he or she will be responsible to the other side for costs which can be significant and even upwards of $50,000. So any frivolous or challenge without merit will be costly to that person. An agreement that is upheld can be filed with the Court and can be treated as if it is a court order.
In general, if any of the following apply, the contract may be set aside:
- If one person was under duress or pressure to sign the agreement;
- If the agreement is unconscionable (very unfair); or
- If there was fraud or misrepresentation (failed to disclose a large asset).
If you think the agreement should be set aside, you need to apply to the Court. The judge may not throw out the entire agreement but may only throw out a certain term.
A lot of people think that they can say they were under pressure when they signed and they didn’t understand the agreement and that will be enough for a judge to set aside the agreement. Not so. The test is quite high – was there no realistic alternative but to submit to the pressure? The agreement usually has to be completely unfavourable and one sided. A changed mind after the fact is not enough. There must be evidence that one person attempted to dominate the will of the other when the agreement was executed and there must be credible evidence of the intimidation or illegitimate pressure.
You also have 2 years from the date the party finds the contract is unfair to start a legal proceeding. There is a time limitation to challenge an agreement.
If the asset is being covered by the agreement, then yes. Our practice is to do a complete net worth statement and to include all assets and debts of both people so the agreement will not be overturned. It is not worth your time, energy and costs to prepare an agreement where there is financial information missing or there is information you want to hide. The agreement can be overturned if that information was material and it was not disclosed. How the law sees it is that you can’t sign away your right to something that you don’t know exists or you don’t know the value. If you don’t disclose the asset you don’t get protection under the law and you may lose the protection you have for the other assets. It’s simply not worth it.
The decision to enter into a prenuptial agreement is very personal and requires buy in for both parties in a relationship.
Reasons a Prenuptial Agreement Might be Invalid
Prenups have to be properly drafted in order to be valid to avoid the stress and expense of fighting over money in a break up.
Prenuptial Agreement Benefits and Drawbacks
There are many benefits to signing a prenuptial agreement, especially if you and your partner have significant assets.
Can Your Prenuptial Agreement Be Modified after Your Marriage?
A prenumptial agreement may be modified after you’re married depending on the local law and the specific terms of your agreement.