You are Separating from your spouse… Now what?
1. Take a Deep Breath
If you are looking at web-pages for Toronto family law lawyers, there is a good chance that you are either going through a major life event, or you anticipate that you will be going through one. Getting married, separating, getting divorced, being involved with a children’s aid society or dealing with a former partner can be very stressful and emotional times. They are not a good time to act impulsively. Lots of people make decisions that they regret later because they did not think them through and get good advice. I have seen lots of people do the things listed on my “How to Lose Your Case?” page, while thinking they were doing the right thing. Before you do anything else, you need to take a deep breath and give some thought about the decisions you have to make. I have done a lot of complex family litigation – over child custody and access, complex financial situations, and children’s aid cases. The comments on these pages are the product of that experience.
2. Talk to your Adult Friends and Adult Family
The people around you are a good starting point in assessing your situation. They are a good first “reality check” to make sure that you are seeing things clearly at a stressful time. If you are going to get into a “battle”, then these are the people who you want beside you. But, they may also have ideas about how to avoid the battle all together. But, if there are kids involved, these are NOT the type of issues with which they should be involved. The potential for harming kids by doing that is very high.
3. Learn a Bit About Family Law
Family Law is incredibly complex. You will not be able to understand every nuance and how they affect your case. The only way to know what kind of process you want to follow, and what steps you need to take is to research the basics. Family Law is different in every jurisdiction, and the differences can be big. So, if you live in Ontario, you need to find a reliable source of information about Ontario Family Law. One reliable source of that kind of information is the Devry Smith and Frank LLP Guide to the Basics of Ontario Family Law.
4. Decide What Process You Want To Use
Separating and divorcing does not necessarily mean going to court to fight it out. Sometimes that is necessary. However, some couples are able to sort out their affairs using another process. If they are getting along well, they may be able to consult with a family lawyer and negotiate an a separation agreement. If the couple really wants to work things out, but have serious disagreements about what the final result should be, they may try collaborative practice or collaborative law to have a process that will help them without attacking each other. If one spouse will not cooperate, is being devious or dishonest, then going the court may be the only way for a spouse to protect his or her rights. It is important to consider what process you need because that will help you decide what type of family lawyer you need to help with your separation or divorce. John Schuman has negotiated a lot of agreements, had successfully litigated several cases through trials and appeals and is also trained as a collaborative lawyer.
5. Talk to a Family Law Lawyer
Judges feel that it is important for people in family law crises to have a family law lawyer. You need some professional, objective, advice. Often that advice will help you work out a solution. But if not and you go to court, you need someone to not only navigate through the complexities of the court process, but also to make sure you show yourself in the best light at a time when it is not clear how to do that.
Very few family cases get to trial. Many cases that do go to trial have one or both parties without a lawyer. Family Law Lawyers know the law and the court rules. They know what are reasonable resolutions in the circumstances. Family Law Lawyers also know how to get clients to that resolution. Long disputes or trials are very destructive. They cost a lot of money and they burn bridges. There are times when you have to go to trial. We have done many of them. But, that is almost always because one side (or both) is being unreasonable and either needs a fight, or is avoiding getting to a resolution because he or she cannot let go. Where parties want to cooperate and try to resolve the issues respectively, it is possible for a separated couples to sort out their affairs without a long or stressful fight.
At Devry Smith Frank LLP we handle a lot of complex cases and know how to fight for the “best interests” of your children. In addition, we are versed in finding hidden income, assets, and are able to deal with complex financial structures, from trusts to complex corporate organizations. Only the best family law lawyers know how to work through those issues and make sure that their clients get what they are entitled to – in court or out. Navigating through these issues can be a challenge – even for other professionals. One thing you don’t want is to get less than you deserve because you did not know how the law applied to your situation. A good family law lawyer is an investment.
It is usually impossible to predict the exact cost, because that depends on many variables from the reasonableness of the parties to the complexity of the issues. Our Philosophy ,however, is that what you get at the end of our services should be worth more than what you paid. To find out more about fees, see our page on the cost of family lawyers.
For further information or assistance on to how to deal with a separation, please contact one of our Toronto family lawyers listed on the right.