A tailored approach to find the best solution for your future

Deborah will work with you and your spouse to find the best solution to resolve issues that often arise in a divorce or separation. There are many different ways to come to an agreement without going to court, while also reducing the cost for both parties so you can move forward with your future.

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 a 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

Prenuptial and marriage agreements are the same thing. The law in British Columbia creates specific obligations for married people in regard to the 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 & Estates

Wills

Making a valid will is important to do 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.

Questions?

Unsure about the correct course of action? Contact us for a no-obligation meeting to discuss your situation and find the best way to move forward.