Navigating through the legal process during separation and divorce can be overwhelming.
However, simply put, there are only two fundamental ways to address family law issues.
#1 – You and your spouse reach an agreement (with or without lawyers involvement)
We strive to help people reach an agreement outside of the court process. We are here to provide information on your legal rights and to help guide you to a reasonable settlement and finalize your divorce. It is faster, less expensive, and usually, both sides are happier and more likely to follow the agreement. However, more importantly, when there are children involved, you are making the decisions about the best interest of your children. You and your spouse know your children. You know what is best for them.
This process normally begins with an exchange of income information, as well as financial information. It moves from the division of assets/debts to income determination, child support, spousal support, and a comprehensive parenting plan.
#2 – The court imposes its decision on you, your spouse, and your children.
If your spouse will not cooperate, or voluntarily disclose their information to you, or you just can’t seem to get anywhere – the court system can be used. There are generally three types of court processes available.
- Chambers Applications – a short time (no more than 7 minutes from each side, and 2 minutes each to summarize) to have your story told, your spouse has a chance to tell their story, and the court will make a determination on simple items. This is done on the basis of sworn written statements submitted to the court. This is used to have quick interim decisions made. An example might be to have the court order: child support to be paid at $X per month until we have time to look at things more carefully.
- Special Chambers Applications: You can book between 1 hour to a day of court time to hear both sides more substantive issues. These might include issues such as interim parenting time, child support arrears, troublesome custody issues, the setting of incomes, etc. Each side submits sworn written documents called Affidavits. Normally, there is no testimony from you, your spouse, or witnesses. There are very strict timelines and rules about what can be submitted to the court and when they must be submitted.
- Trial: A trial allows for witnesses, you to testify, your spouse to testify, expert reports to be submitted, expert witnesses, the submission of written sworn statements, and other relevant materials. A trial is a very formal legal procedure and is used if Chambers and Special Chambers applications are not able to solve the issue(s). A trial’s purpose is to obtain a final decision, where possible.
As to which process is best for you and your situation is something can only be decided by getting to know you and the issues you face. That’s why having an initial consultation is a good place to start.