Family Law and Divorce Process – What do I do?

The Family Law and Divorce Process – What do I do?

You can apply for a divorce after you have been separated for one year.  However, the separation agreement is the important document that outlines issues related to custody and access agreements, your matrimonial home, child support, spousal support, pensions and your assets.  The question becomes, which process do I choose?  The options available to you are as follows:

  1. Mediation
  2. Collaborative Law
  3. Settlement Negotiations
  4. Litigation
  5. Non-formal agreement

The chart below outlines some questions to think about along with the benefits and disadvantages of each process.

MediationA. Cost:  $150 to $350 per hour
B. Time:  10 to 30 hours
C. Outcome:  Tends to last longer because it is an agreement made by both parties
A.  Appropriate: Not always appropriate for high conflict situations or where one party has a mental illness
B.  Independent Legal Advice: May result in conflict and litigation when independent legal advice is required if lawyers are not consulted throughout the process
Collaborative LawA. Cost: $300 to $600 per hour
B. Time:  4 to 8 months C.  Outcome:  Tends to be holistic because it involves addressing complex emotional, financial and legal needs of the family
A.  Outcome:   If there is no agreement, parties risk losing their lawyers during litigation  
Settlement NegotiationsA. Cost: $300 to $600 per hour
B. Time:  4 to 8 months
C. Outcome:  If there is no agreement, parties can continue with lawyers during litigation  
A. Outcome:  If there is no agreement, the parties risk the financial and emotional cost of litigation.  
LitigationA.  Outcome:  Process moves forward where spouse is unreasonable or you cannot get them to respondA.  Cost:  $300 to $600 per hour
B.  Outcome:  Emotionally draining for families, particularly children.
Non-formal agreementA. Cost: Little to no cost
B. Time: Can be done very quickly  
A.  Outcome:  Rights or interests of individuals not clearly represented
B.  Agreement:  Can be set aside

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