Areas of Practice

  • Mediation
  • Negotiation
  • Collaborative Law
  • Litigation
  • Other Family Law
  • Wills and Estates
  • Mediation

    I always begin by discussing with my clients the possibility of mediation. I am a firm believer in the role of mediation in family law as a process where couples can work together with the help of a mediator to resolve issues and create an Agreement that will work for all concerned.

    Mediation is a process whereby both you and your partner sit down with a mediator to work through all of the issues arising from your separation. These issues usually include the division of your assets, parenting arrangements if you have children, and possibly monthly payments for either you, your partner or your children.

    The mediation process is extremely effective and approximately 80% to 90% of all of the mediations which I have conducted result in settlement of all of the issues. Mediation is effective because it allows you to meet in a professional but non-confrontational setting and to explain your needs and concerns directly to each other without placing two lawyers in the middle of your discussions.

    If you are able to reach agreement through mediation it is an agreement that is acceptable to both you and your partner rather than a solution that is imposed by the court. It is more likely that the agreement will be complied with in the future because it is an agreement which the two of you have created. In some cases, mediation is not an option. If this is the case, negotiation or collaborative law are other viable options for resolution of the issue.

  • Negotiation

    If mediation is not an option, we can attempt to resolve the issues through a negotiation process. This may take the form of meetings with your spouse and their lawyer or simply by communicating via letters and phone calls.

    It is extremely important to make every possible effort to resolve your issues through negotiation before resorting to litigation as it reduces the cost significantly and it allows you to reach solutions without having solutions imposed on you by a court.

    Usually during the negotiation process you will be able to resolve all of the issues but if you are not able to do this you will probably be able to resolve most of the issues leaving only a few unresolved issues to be determined by the court.

  • Collaborative Law

    Collaborative Law is a vital part of family law and consists of a process where you and your spouse agree to work together in a collaborative effort to resolve your issues. This process is very similar to mediation. I encourage participation in the collaborative process, whether it be through collaborative law or mediation, and would discuss with you whether or not it is in your best interests to enter into the collaborative law process.

    For more information regarding Collaborative Law, please visit the Collaborative Family Law (CFL) website at:  www.collaborativefamilylawgroup.com.

  • Litigation

    Mediation and/or negotiation can reduce your costs significantly and generally lead to a more satisfactory resolution of the problems. Occasionally, however, it is necessary to involve the family law courts and have a judge decide the issues. If litigation becomes necessary I will discuss the costs and the process thoroughly with you before proceeding.

    Litigation means placing your issues before either a Provincial Court Judge or a Supreme Court Judge for a decision. In BC the Supreme Court Rules of Court have recently been revised to require anyone who wishes to use the courts to have a meeting with a Judge prior to bringing an application before the court. This meeting is called a Judicial Case Conference and it is attended by you, your partner and both lawyers. The Judge will talk to you and your lawyers in an informal setting and attempt to help you resolve your issues. Often the Judge will tell you their opinion regarding the likely outcome if you do proceed to court. These meetings are extremely helpful and often result in a settlement of the issues, but if settlement is not reached the matter will proceed to trial.

    If a trial is necessary we will set a trial date and discuss the cost of pursuing a trial in detail. We will also discuss the possibility of setting an interim application which will provide temporary relief until the trial is heard. A trial will typically be approximately one year from the date it is set but if the issues are not complicated it may be heard sooner.

    As the litigation process is complicated and often stressful I always stay in close contact with you throughout the process. I will do everything I can to ensure that you have a good understanding of the process and all of the issues so that together we can make good decisions and achieve a good result.

  • Other Family Law

    COHABITATION AGREEMENTS

    The law in British Columbia states that people who live together may be responsible to share assets and to support each other or their children in the event of a separation. A cohabitation agreement allows you to create a contract, which states whether or not you wish to share your assets and to set out your wishes in regard to supporting each other or your partner’s children in the event of a separation.

    PRE-NUPTIAL AGREEMENTS/MARRIAGE AGREEMENTS

    Pre-nuptial and marriage agreements are the same thing. The law in British Columbia creates specific obligations for married people in regard to division of assets and maintenance. A marriage agreement is a contract signed by a couple who either are about to marry or are already married and it sets out your wishes in regard to the division of assets and maintenance responsibilities for spouses and children in the event of separation or divorce.

    SEPARATION AGREEMENTS

    A separation agreement is a contract which you sign after deciding to separate and it sets out who gets which assets, who will be caring for your children and any child or spousal maintenance responsibilities.

    DIVORCE

    In British Columbia a divorce can be obtained once you and your spouse have been separated for one year. A divorce can be obtained sooner if one person has committed adultery or there has been any mental or physical abuse. It takes three to four months to complete the divorce after the year has expired. Usually couples will set out their financial obligations and the division of their assets in a separation agreement prior to obtaining a divorce and the divorce is obtained simply to dissolve the marriage.

  • Wills and Estates

    Wills

    Making a valid will is important do to at any stage in your life.  Having a will in place means that your estate will be administered according to your wishes and will not leave your loved ones without direction.  When drafting your will, it is important to consider the division of your estate including your personal belongings, investments, businesses and property.  You may also wish to include clauses concerning guardianship of your minor children, cash gifts, donations to charity and funeral wishes.

    I can help you develop a sound document which will support your executor and trustee in fulfilling your wishes after your death.  Having a valid, legal will can lessen the burden on your executor and trustee and make it easier for him or her to administer your estate in a timely and efficient manner, avoiding unnecessary expenses while protecting your loved ones’ interests.

    Estate

    If you have been appointed as the executor of a will or you wish to be appointed as the administrator of an estate for someone who has died without a will, you will have numerous tasks and responsibilities ahead of you and the scope of this role can be overwhelming.  I can assist you with the steps needed to prepare an application to the court for an estate grant which will confirm your appointment and allow you to administer the estate.  It is advantageous for the family and loved ones of the deceased to settle the estate in a timely manner and with the least cost.  I can meet with you and together we can determine which tasks you as executor can perform to keep cost to a minimum and which tasks you need help with.  Having the expertise of an estate lawyer to support you during the estate administration can make the cumbersome duty of executorship more manageable.

About Me

I have specialized in Family Law in Victoria for over 30 years and have extensive experience in mediation, negotiation and litigation including marriage and prenuptial agreements and divorce. My commitment to my Victoria BC family law practice is to help all of my clients through a very difficult time in their lives and I have the experience required to help you through a separation in the least adversarial and most cost effective way. I understand the importance of maintaining excellent communication with you, including returning all correspondence, phone calls and emails immediately. I know that delay only increases anxiety and that there is no excuse for inefficiency. I endeavor to achieve excellent results in the least possible time and at the least possible cost.

One on One with Deborah

“A good friend said to me recently: ‘the 50s are easy, just try looking good in your 60s!’” laughs Deb Todd, a well known and highly respected lawyer who has been practicing family law, wills and estate law in Victoria for 30 years. Deb has accomplished that coveted life sought after by women everywhere: she built a successful career while raising three children, and managed to maintain a healthy lifestyle on top of it all. Now, in her 60s, Deb shares with Ageless Living  some thoughts on how she made it all happen.

Life Lessons Learned On the Job

“My work as a family law lawyer and my own life experience has taught me the important role that being in a healthy relationship plays on your overall health and well being. I firmly believe that being in a dysfunctional relationship is damaging to your psychological and physical health. I’ve worked with literally thousands of people and helped them go through the process of separating from their partners. Although often devastated at first, I watch as they rebuild healthy and happy lives. I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to know so many people and to be able to help them through this transition.”

The Trap of the Desk

“I’ve worked at a desk for 30 years practicing law. Although it’s a wonderful and challenging career and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it, it requires sitting at a desk for long hours most days. I realized from the start that when I was not working, I needed to get moving and be careful to watch what I ate. I’ve always understood the role that being fit and eating well plays in my overall well-being, but my understanding of what that means and how to accomplish it has changed over the years. Now that I’m in my 60s, the importance of health is increasingly evident.”

Variety: The Spice of Life and Exercise

“I started jogging and swimming, and in my mid-40s added weight training, bike riding and yoga. I was lucky enough to grow up on a lake so swimming came easily to me, but everything else I had to learn. As a child I was not particularly athletic. I had the help of a trainer for five years who worked with me six days a week and who taught me an enormous amount. Together we frequented the Y at Royal Roads and later Juan de Fuca Rec Centre. He trained me for triathlons, and although I only competed twice, I still do the training every day. The variety of the four sports (biking, swimming, running and weight lifting) has allowed me to keep going through numerous minor injuries along with the ongoing help of my chiropractor, Dr Jamie Grimes.”

Motivation and Moderation

“I have gone through good times and bad, like anyone else, but staying fit and healthy definitely helps me maintain a positive attitude and lifts my self-esteem. Motivation comes easily for me. As my trainer said, my problem isn’t motivation, it’s moderation. I am motivated by the sense of well-being I get from staying fit, and I’m much happier if I stay on track. I am also motivated by the great friends I have made at all the gyms and recreation centres I’ve haunted over the past 15 years. My friends at these facilities have inspired me every day and we have had a lot of fun working out together. The gym has become an important part of my social life and I’d miss it terribly if I stopped going.

“On weekdays I usually get up at 4:45 a.m. and I’m at the rec centre by 5:30 to do weights and swim. I then try to go running, biking or walking when I get home from work. On weekends, I go for a longer run or bike ride from home in the morning, and I swim in a lake during summer. I’m definitely a morning person and I find it’s best to get most of my fitness done first thing in the morning, because you never know what the day will bring and you may not be able to exercise after work.”

Making Adjustments Along the Way

“When I injure one part of my body, it usually means just focusing on a different sport until I’m healed. I’ve recently discovered barefoot shoes and that’s allowed me to run freely without hurting my back (with the minor exception of a recent bout with tendonitis). I’ve learned that staying healthy is key and now I lift less weight and go shorter distances than I used to, just to ensure I don’t injure myself.”

Diet of a Fitness Buff

“I have been through many different dieting regimens over the years, including low-carb, high-protein diets. Since reading The China Study, my diet is now mostly vegan. I eat lots of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and whole grains, and I make sure I get a lot of flax and other oils every day. I don’t smoke, drink alcohol or eat processed foods, and I avoid caffeine. I do, however, have one or two days a week when I can and do eat whatever I feel like, including meat, fish and desserts.”

The Best Advice

“The best advice I could give is to set up a daily routine for both exercise and diet that works for you, and stick to it. Hiring a personal trainer to get you started (if you can afford it) makes it much more fun. Alternatively, join classes at your gym or rec centre. You will learn how to exercise without hurting yourself and you will make great friends who will encourage you.”

Finding a Balance

“It is very hard to balance fitness, career and family. I didn’t really focus on fitness seriously until my late forties when my youngest child turned 16 and got her driver’s license, so I was no longer the chauffeur! Once I was free to arrange my schedule, I started going to the gym and exercising on a regular basis. That’s when I hired a trainer and worked with him almost every day for five years. It was a great way to learn how to exercise properly and it was a lot of fun. My trainer, Mike Maxwell, BHK, DC, was 18 when I met him. He went on to become a chiropractor as well as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. I owe him a great deal for all he taught me.”

Looking Back; Looking Forward

“So far, my lifestyle has paid off. Now, in my 60s, I’m healthy, fit and happy. I’ve survived two divorces, three children and menopause. I still don’t have grey hair (if I knew why I could make a fortune!) and except for a few wrinkles, I don’t look too bad. Going forward, I hope to continue the work that has been so inspiring and fulfilling to me, and maintain my fitness for many years to come. Hopefully I will be able to say to my friend in 10 years, ‘the 60s were easy, just try looking good in your 70s!’

Deborah Todd has specialized in Family Law in Victoria for over 30 years and has extensive experience in mediation, negotiation and litigation, including marriage, prenuptial agreements and divorce. She endeavours to achieve excellent results in the least possible time and at the least possible cost.