For a couple ending a marriage, they must go through the difficult process of separation and divorce. When children are involved, the process can be even more emotional and traumatic. A long and antagonistic battle in divorce court can be distressing for the entire family, and make communication and cooperation more difficult going forward.
There are alternative dispute models that allow families to keep control of the process and settle out of court. These alternatives are generally quicker and less expensive than divorce court battles. Most families find settling out of court to be less distressing, and the needs of all parties can be addressed in the separation agreement.
Alternative methods for separation and divorce include negotiation, mediation, arbitration and collaborative family law. It is important that you hire a lawyer trained in alternative methods to represent you if you want to avoid divorce court. Your lawyer will help you understand your rights under Ontario law.
For negotiation, clients give their respective lawyers settlement instructions once they understand the legal advice and full financial disclosure has been exchanged. Your lawyer will suggest potential settlement solutions and negotiate directly with your spouse’s lawyer.
For mediation, a trained third party mediator brings the two spouses together to help them discuss settlement options and assist them to negotiate their issues themselves. The mediator does not control the outcome, but guides the two sides, giving you legal information and defusing emotional tension to help the spouses reach mutually agreeable solutions.
With arbitration, a third party arbitrator acts as a ‘judge’ and makes decisions on issues after hearing from both sides. This alternative method can be less costly than court, as well as much quicker. Both spouses must agree in advance to abide by the decisions of the arbitrator.
Collaborative family law is a relatively new alternative method to divorce court. Both spouses agree to the process and hire a lawyer and any other necessary team members (including family specialists, financial advisors, etc.) This method helps couples resolve their issues with dignity and respect. By working together, the spouses control the process and work to find solutions that best benefit all members of the family. A separation agreement will be drafted with the agreed upon solutions by your collaboratively trained lawyers.
Collaborative Family Lawyer, Diane Daly, has been mediating family law disputes since 1995 and is also a trained arbitrator. If you are beginning the process of separation and divorce in Ontario, call the Daly Law team to discuss the best options for your family.(905) 844-5883.