Family Law Dispute Options

When it comes to divorce or dealing with child custody issues, many people think that going to trial in the family courts is the only option. However, both mediation and arbitration may be viable options depending on your situation. Each of these has its own set of pros and cons, and it’s important to understand the differences in the process for each.

Mediation gives you and your ex the most control over the divorce process, and it also usually takes the least amount of time for everything to be settled and finalized. In a mediation, there is at least one premediation meeting and at least one actual mediation meeting. If everything has been agreed upon at the mediation meeting, things can be finalized right away. Even in the case where you need more than one mediation meeting, this is usually a fairly quick process.

Arbitration is similar to mediation, with a preabritration meeting, prehearing meeting and then the actual arbitration. However, once everything has been presented, it can take 60 to 90 days to get a final decision. Unlike in a trial, decisions made in an arbitration are not eligible for appeal, so this is important to note.

A trial is what most people are familiar with and consists of many conferences, hearings, motions and time for things like the discovery of evidence, subpoenas and appointing a guardian ad litem. This process is also the longer of the three, taking upwards of three months and sometimes even years to reach a finalized court order. Which of these is the best option for you largely depends on your specific set of circumstances. Talking with one of our attorneys can help you learn more.

Can Mediation Work With Grandparent Visitation?

While a divorce or separation can certainly make it harder for grandparents to see their grandchildren on a regular basis, particularly in the case of grandparents on the noncustodial side, parents are still usually responsible for setting up these visits. In some situations, however, grandparents may wish to see the children more often or set up a specific visitation time schedule through the courts.

The best course of action if you are a grandparent who wants to see your grandchildren more often but the end of the parents’ relationship has made that impossible or more difficult is to talk with the parents. It may be easier to start with your son or daughter, but you will likely end up having to have a discussion with both of the child’s parents. If an informal meeting does not lead to a satisfactory outcome, the next step would be formal mediation.

Many situations can be resolved through mediation. When a neutral third party steps into the matter, it often helps both sides reconsider how they may be able to compromise or work together. If an agreement is reached through mediation, this can then be put forward to the courts for the final approval. If mediation does not help, however, it may be time to take the case to the family courts.

Before taking any legal action at all, it’s important to talk with a lawyer who is familiar with the family law guidelines and how they apply to grandparents’ rights in British Columbia. This allows you to get as much information as possible and an opportunity to get your questions answered.

Source: Family Law in British Columbia, “Children’s right to time with grandparents,” accessed Jan. 22, 2016

Mother Seeks $14,000 a Month in Child Support, Court Says No

A woman seeking child support to the tune of $14,000 a month as had her request denied. A justice in a British Columbia Supreme Court rejected the mother’s claim that her child hasn’t been able to enjoy the same lifestyle as when she was married to an oral surgeon.

The case is somewhat complicated. The couple met at work, where the woman was a dental assistant. The husband worked many 12-hour days and was on call 365 days a year. For that schedule, he made over $2 million a year.

The couple had a child during the marriage and the mother also had a child from a previous relationship. That child sees his father; however, the mother doesn’t want the oral surgeon — the child’s stepfather — to see the child. However, she does want $14,000 a month in child support for the oral surgeon’s stepchild. The oral surgeon has custody of the child from the marriage.

The justice noted that the woman had not looked for work since the divorce, choosing to live on income from investments — and the $1.7 million settlement she got in the divorce. The justice believes the mother should receive $60,000 a year from investments and another $55,000 in salary.

The oral surgeon has cut back on his hours significant — he only works six days each month now. He anticipates that in the future, he will earn about $500,000 a year. The justice decided the man would pay $1,500 a month in child support for his stepson. However, that amount will likely be offset by the amount of child support the mother will have to pay for her child that lives with him.

As you can see, in some cases involving child support, child custody and more are very contentious. A collaborative law approach is much easier on all parties involved and certainly worth looking into.

Source: CBC News, “Unemployed dental assistant loses $14K child support claim,” Dec. 15, 2015

Understanding the Collaborative Process

It may seem like every divorce must involve some kind of argument or court battle, but this is not the case. Whether you are already divorcing amicably or want to try to avoid the contention and strife common with traditional divorces, collaborative law may be a good fit for your legal needs.

One of the basic tenants of the collaborative process is the participation agreement. This is the document that all parties must sign, and it is an agreement to be completely honest in disclosing information and providing documentation as well as an agreement that neither side will pursue litigation. However, this does not mean that lawyers will not be involved. Even in the collaborative process, it is important for each party to have his or her own legal representation who can look out for his or her rights and interests.

Once the agreement has been signed, the parties work together to determine what is best in coming to a settlement. If a settlement agreement is reached, it is signed by everyone involved and finalized by the family courts. If it becomes clear that an agreement is not possible, the case moves on to the courts. It is important to note here that in the latter situation, both parties must also obtain new legal representation before moving forward.

Divorce doesn’t have to be a fight. If you’re interested in collaborative law, mediation or arbitration as a way to handle your divorce proceedings, talking with a lawyer is the first step. At West Coast ADR Law Group, we can help you understand the pros and cons of each option and which one may be best for your specific set of circumstances.

What Does Parental Alienation Look Like?

Parental alienation can take many forms. While it’s not unusual for divorces or separated parents to harbor some negative feelings toward each other, when these feelings spill over into the child’s relationship with one parent, it can mean that parental alienation is occurring. While it is often an intentional action on the part of one parent, parental alienation can also happen unintentionally if the alienating parent is not aware that their actions are having a negative effect on the child.

Common behaviors of someone engaging in parental alienation include casting the other parent in a disparaging light in front of the child, undermining the other parent’s authority, telling the child that the other parent is not safe or is mean and trying to manipulate the child’s affections. In severe cases, the alienating parent may refuse to acknowledge the other parent’s existence or may tell the child that the other parent doesn’t really love or care about them.

Children who are victims of parental alienation often become very confused about what has happened and wind up parroting the words and beliefs of the alienating parent. The child may express a desire to stop seeing the other parent or indicate the he or she does not like or even love the other parent.

Canada law has several provisions for cases of parental alienation. The first step is usually to send something to the alienating parent in writing, informing them of the issue and requesting that the behavior stop, or attempt to work through the issue in mediation. If this doesn’t work, however, it may require further legal action such as bringing the case before a judge or asking for a change in the custody situation.