Divorce is rarely an easy option to choose. Once a couple, or an individual, has decided it is the best course, there are many more decisions that have to be made before the divorce is finalized. What form the divorce will take is one of those decisions: citizens of British Columbia have many paths they can follow, including traditional litigation. Mediation, however, is becoming a more popular choice for many, including some who probably never considered it.
To initiate a divorce in B.C., an application must be submitted to the provincial Supreme Court. Though this might seem like the first step toward a protracted legal battle, there is still the opportunity to opt for mediation. Ironically, both partners are not required to choose this path. In fact, one spouse can compel the other to attend mediation by serving him or her with a Notice to Mediate.
Once the spouse has been served with the Notice, he or she will be required to attend a mediation session, unless certain criteria are met. For example, he or she would not have to attend if the same issues had already been discussed in mediation. Also, the court may exempt the spouse if it would be impractical for him or her to attend, perhaps because they live a great distance away. It is also possible the mediator may decide mediation is not the appropriate method for the couple.
Mediation is a wonderful tool for couples who have chosen to end their marriage. For the right people, it may help avoid prolonged litigation and an emotional nightmare. The ability to enforce mediation may seem contradictory, but it may be a viable option in the right situation. Consulting with a family law attorney experienced with mediation in British Columbia might help make this alternative dispute resolution option work.
Source: familylaw.lss.ca, “Making mediation happen in a family law case in Supreme Court“, Accessed on Dec. 13, 2016
One of the most difficult aspects of a divorce in British Columbia may be the division of assets. And while determining the allocation of financial and real estate holdings can be complicated, sometimes it’s the little things that cause emotions to run high. There may be many shared possessions a couple accumulates during a life together which neither wants to give up for sentimental reasons. Even arrangements for beloved pets need to be made, and mediation offers a good environment for making these choices. One Canadian judge recently decided that even though pets feel like family, they are possessions in the eyes of the law.
In April of this year, a Saskatchewan couple chose to divorce after 16 years of marriage. The couple had no children, but they did own three dogs, and they went to court prepared to fight for custody over two of the pups, much in the same way parents would battle over custody of their children. The wife’s lawyers even went so far as to portray the husband as a “cat person” who should only be allowed visitation rights.
The judge rejected the request for a custody proceeding, citing many examples of how children differ from domestic animals. Though he acknowledged many owners treat their pets like family, pets are property and do not have familial rights. He also issued a warning to the couple that asking the courts to decide on the fate of their dogs might have unexpected consequences: should the court fail to reach a decision, the dogs could be ordered sold and the proceeds divided between the two parties.
In a divorce, all belongings need to be split up. Clearly, leaving it up to the courts to decide the fate of treasured items is inherently risky. Fortunately, British Columbia residents have the option to mediate their divorce, giving them the opportunity to make decisions with the help of neutral outsiders. By partnering with a caring representative of a family law firm, it may be possible to find solutions through mediation that please everyone involved.
Source: theguardian.com, “Judge rules pet dogs cannot be treated as children in Canada custody dispute“, Ashifa Kassam, Dec. 19, 2016
Most families look forward to the holidays, planning family events and enjoying time together. For families that have become divided through divorce or separation, however, holidays can be stressful and emotional times full of bitterness and resentment. It’s a sad reality for many British Columbia families. Perhaps it doesn’t have to be, however, and pre-planning during mediation or custody proceedings may be the solution.
Many divided families end up in heated arguments during the holidays as parents vie for time with their kids. Family law professionals say they see a spike in business just before and just after Christmas as families try and arrange holiday gatherings and winter vacations. Courtrooms are often extra busy beginning in late November as parents attempt to push through motions for additional or adjusted custody and visitation time.
When arguments over children get out of hand, it is the children who suffer the most. The courts strive to act in the best interests of the children, and so should parents. One way to avoid debates over holidays and vacations is to work these annual events into custody arrangements. More and more often, parents are now including Christmas, Hanukkah and other important holidays in their custody agreements. By settling matters in advance, there should be no need for debates when the time arrives.
Agreements are best made when both parties are discussing options, rather than fighting for control. Mediation is an excellent, non-confrontational, method of arriving at settlements for custody arrangements and other divorce or separation issues in British Columbia. By working with a caring and experienced family law firm, a person can hope to achieve an amicable and easily executed settlement.
Source: National Post, “Dreaming of a Christmas free from custody battles: Family lawyers say holiday season is their busiest time“, Ashely Csanady, Dec. 23,2016
Everyone wants to save money when they can, especially on things that aren’t enjoyable. It may come as a surprise to some that there are ways to cut costs on a divorce, a process nearly synonymous with major expenses and financial pitfalls. One financial expert has recently shared tips on how to be fiscally responsible during a divorce, and using collaborative law might be one of the keys for people in British Columbia considering a separation.
The first step should be an ongoing one in anyone’s life: being aware of one’s own finances. That entails being cognizant of what one’s assets are and what they’re worth. It also means knowing what one owes and to whom. Additionally, on should keep tabs on all of one’s income streams and annual expenditures. Knowing these things in advance and having ready access to important financial records will save time if a divorce comes to pass.
Keeping one’s emotions in check as much as possible can also help save money and enable better decision making. As an example, the expert cites the family home: while one may be attached to it sentimentally, keeping it might not be the best financial decision for everyone. Guilt and anger are also bad emotional foundations for settling a divorce, and they may get in the way of what’s really important.
One last piece of advice from the expert is to settle out of court, if possible. Litigation can be very expensive, and favourable results are far from guaranteed. Taking advantage of the processes of collaborative law may help two people settle their differences, divide their assets and move on with their lives in as efficient a manner as possible. An experienced British Columbia-based family law firm is well equipped to assist a couple or an individual achieve this goal.
Source: BNN, “5 ways to juggle the financial pitfalls of divorce“, Pattie Lovett-Reid, Dec. 2, 2016