separation + divorce

YOU HAVE OPTIONS
We can help with: marriage contracts, cohabitation contracts, separation agreements, divorce, custody/access, child/spousal support, dividing property and adoption. We are called upon most often to help with separation and divorce cases. If you need help in negotiating and resolving a family law case, we offer you six options:

helping you solve it

You and your spouse determine how to resolve the issues of your separation or divorce, by direct negotiations. We can advise you on the law and encourage your spouse to seek their own lawyer for independent advice. You will report on your decisions to us and we will prepare a formal separation agreement. We may need to fine-tune your agreement to ensure it will stand up in a court of law.

lawyer to lawyer negotiation

Our office and your spouse’s lawyer will negotiate the terms of your separation or divorce. This option may involve court litigation. It does not have to. For most of our clients, we are able to assist them to reach a mutually acceptable agreement without the cost of court.

mediation

In this process, you, your spouse and the mediator meet to resolve your separation. We can address all of the issues. Mediation allows you to take control of your own issues and to participate in designing workable outcomes in a neutral setting. Mediation offers a low-cost resolution to your case with the satisfaction that you have a voice in your own destiny. Mediation is often fast, too. In many cases, the entire process may be scheduled within 48 hours of your contact to our law offices and a settlement may be reached in a two or three hour session. Both yourself and your spouse need to contact us if you’d like us to mediate, and you would each need own lawyer for legal advice at the end.

collaborative family law

Similar to mediation, Collaborative Family Law assumes that you participate in achieving a resolution to your dispute. However, Collaborative Family Law goes beyond mediation, by creating a contract which sets out the terms of how the dispute will be negotiated. This ensures that negotiations are handled in a safe, formal, civil, and respectful manner. It involves three key components; a pledge not to go to court; an honest exchange of information; and a promise to take into account both spouses and their children.

court

This form of negotiation is the most costly of all methods. It involves the preparation, signature and service of documentation, attendances at the Court House (and not always the one closest to you), travel time, time away from work/children. Each spouse tells his or her story to their lawyer, a court action is instituted, court required conferences are held, offers to settle exchanged and then attendance in court, if settlement is not to be.

This method of negotiation, in its simplest terms, allows someone other than you and your spouse to decide how money is to be divided, custody of children is to be decided, the amount of child and spousal support to be paid and the division of your family properties. It is not the optimal process to end a marriage, but unfortunately it is sometimes necessary.

arbitration

A private alternative to court, arbitration is a process where each side tells his or her side of the dispute to an arbitrator and asks for a specific decision. We can help arrange for an arbitrator, and represent you during the arbitration process. In essence, it’s like hiring a private judge to settle your case. The results are the same as a court order.

what is collaborative divorce?

Collaborative Practice is a way for a divorcing couple to work with a team of trained professionals to resolve disputes respectfully, without going to court. Collaborative Practice has three key elements:

the voluntary and free exchange of information.

For Collaborative Law to work, both parties must enter into discussions committed to coming to an amicable resolution. For this to happen, transparency is key.

the pledge not to go to court

Court is very expensive and in our experience, does not resolve issues as effectively as Collaborative Law.

commitment to resolutions that respect the parties goals

In a successful Collaborative Law case, both parties will come away feeling that their goals have been met, in a respectful manner.

wills + estate planning

ENSURE PEACE OF MIND FOR YOUR LOVED ONES.

we can help you with all aspects of estate planning, including Wills and Powers of Attorney. We can guide you through an estate, whether there was a will or not.

wills

Why prepare a will? An updated will ensures that your assets will be distributed as you intended. Wills and powers of attorney should all be kept updated in order to ease the burden on your beneficiaries when you die. A will plans out what your executors will do to distribute your estate after you pass away. It can set up a trust for your under aged children and name a person to be their guardian.

powers of attorney

Powers of Attorney are useful when you are still alive. There are two of them:

The most well known is the Power of Attorney for Property. This allows your attorney to pay your bills and manage your money when you cannot. The lesser known one is a Power of Attorney for Personal Care. This allows your attorney to make end of life and medical decisions when you are incapable of giving your wishes.

estates

Once someone has passed away, we can help prepare any necessary court documents if the estate needs to have probate. In today’s language, “probate” is the Certificate of Appointment of an Estate Trustee, with or without a will. We can also help the executor (the “Trustee”) navigate all of the steps necessary to finish the estate.

Contact us to set up a consultation for achieving your estate planning goals.

collaborative law + mediation

what are the benefits of collaborative divorce?

Collaborative family law focuses on all involved parties reaching a mutually agreed upon settlement of their disputes. The process results in valuable benefits. It creates a cooperative environment where communication remains open, which provides a setting where you can work with your spouse to meet your children’s needs — regardless of their ages. That helps set a tone for open communication and reduced conflict in the future.

It establishes a team instead of adversaries. Your lawyer supports you; your spouse’s lawyer supports your spouse. But you all work together and, in doing so, retain control of the process.

In matters requiring expert opinions, both parties can jointly hire one independent consultant. That helps shorten the duration of the case and reduce the overall expense.

You and your spouse shape the agreements together – which means you both are more likely to keep them. That diminishes the parental conflict the adversarial system generates and helps protect children from facing the anguish and divided loyalties that result.

You can schedule meetings without waiting for court dates. That means you generally spend less time and, as a result, less money to reach closure. It also means you reduce the fear and anxiety associated with court proceedings.

Your issues stay within the collaborative law setting. That gives you more privacy and greater confidentiality – and less stress during an already stressful time.

Contact us and we can discuss how we can mediate your case, or act on your behalf.

small claims

YOU HAVE OPTIONS

if you have a dispute with someone over an issue and the amount involved is under $25,000, you can use the Small Claims Court to resolve the issue.

This court is easier to navigate than the Ontario Court of Justice and the Superior Court of Justice, but sometimes you may want some help. Pamela Biron assists our clients with either full representation in court, or by helping with the forms and understanding the process. The choice is yours.