Thinking Divorce During the Holidays? Consider Collaborative Law

The winter holidays are a time of joy for happy families across British Columbia. For those men and women who are unhappy in their marriage, however, it can be an emotional time for entirely different reasons. Thoughts of divorce can be upsetting, and no one wants to be upset or bring others down during this festive season. While ending a marriage is never a fun thing to think about, it may be the right time to consider how to proceed, and interested parties may wonder if collaborative law is the way to go.

Seeing other families enjoying themselves, and enduring the strain of trying to keep smiling, can be very difficult on a person who wants to end his or her marriage. In order to avoid ruing the holidays, however, many men and women attempt to put off taking action until the season has passed. For that reason, some lawyers refer to January as “divorce month.”

Statistics indicate that internet searches for divorce-related terms increase by as much as 50 percent during December and January. Similar reports of seasonally increased divorce filings have been reported in a study in the United States. That study showed spikes in divorces through the first three months of the year and again in September after the summer holidays have ended.

While emotions can never be entirely held in check during divorce proceedings, it is important that they never be allowed to get the better of a person. One way to attempt to keep them controlled is to try to resolve matters via collaborative law instead of litigation. With the assistance of a British Columbia family law attorney, an individual can work with his or her spouse instead of fighting. This may be a less emotionally damaging way to achieve a much-needed divorce.

Source: The Globe and Mail, “How unhappy couples survive the holidays and what happens next“, Dave McGinn, Dec. 20, 2016

Can Collaborative Law Prevent a Divorce From Getting Ugly?

When two people choose to end their marriage, it is rarely a decision reached without expressing at least a few negative emotions. It may be hoped, however, that a separation agreement can be reached without undue acrimony so that both parties may move on with their lives as expediently as possible. In British Columbia, people may choose to take advantage of the collaborative law process in order to settle their differences in relative peace. Clearly, two Hollywood celebrities currently in the news did not choose this path.

Singer Robin Thicke and actress Paula Patton announced their divorce three years ago, and yet the custody battle over their now 6-year-old son, Julian, still continues. In the latest development, Patton has accused Thicke of abusing the boy, allegations which are being investigated by the Los Angeles County Department of Child and Family Services. Patton has reportedly blocked Thicke’s access to their son, and she filed an emergency order for an adjustment to their current custody agreement that would limit his visitation to supervised visits during daytime hours only.

In his defence, Thicke claims he has spanked the child for discipline, but only lightly and on rare occasions as a last resort. He further claims this level of discipline is in keeping with an agreement made with Patton while the two were still married. In his opinion, this was an attempt at revenge after Patton was denied an invitation to the funeral for Thicke’s father, actor Alan Thicke, in December 2016. A judge dismissed Patton’s request for limited access.

Very few people have the details of their divorce or child custody dispute written about in the news. Nevertheless, even a private citizen may suffer as the result of a possibly vindictive attempt to alter an arrangement, and certainly, the children may suffer, as well. Agreements made via collaborative law are more likely to be adhered to in the future because of the circumstances in which they were created. By working with a British Columbia family law firm, it may be possible to cooperate with an ex-spouse rather than come to conflict.

Source: National Post, “Paula Patton accuses ex-husband Robin Thicke of abusing their son amid bitter custody battle“, Sadaf Ahsan, Jan. 13, 2017

Collaborative Law: Keeping Divorce Civil and Private

It is not over-generalizing to suggest that someone who is going to be paying spousal support usually feels a lower dollar figure is sufficient than does the would-be recipient. British Columbia men and women about to enter divorce proceedings may wish to consider the case of an affluent couple who could not agree on a suitable figure and ended up making the news, their private business laid out for public consumption. This is an excellent example of the value of collaborative law, regardless of income level.

The couple in question had chosen to end their marriage after 23 years. They had made their home in one of the most prestigious neighbourhoods in the country and lived a lifestyle to suit the environment. Their three children all attend an elite private school, and the couple also owns a townhouse in a resort community. The husband has been involved at an ownership level with numerous successful businesses, and the wife is a former lawyer who gave up practising to stay at home with the children. She is seeking interim support payments in keeping with her accustomed lifestyle, and based on his annual income of approximately $1.8 million.

In court, the man argued that he earned a mere $275,000 each year, and that any support payments should be based on that figure. He attributed the previous year’s high earnings to a one-time real estate sale, and that he and his ex-wife were able to live lavishly because of the generosity of his parents, who no longer felt obligated to help out now that the marriage was over. The judge, however, noted the man was still able to drive a new Mercedes and pay $12,000 per month in rent. In the end, he ruled in favour of the woman, deciding that she was entitled to continue living the way she was accustomed, regardless of where the man’s money was coming from.

In any litigated divorce, whether the assets are newsworthy or more modest, there may be a struggle over support payments. Ultimately, a judge will rule based on British Columbia support guidelines, despite any objections from either party. As an alternative, couples may choose instead to negotiate a settlement via collaborative law. Such an approach may allow for a more agreeable solution for both parties, and one that is still enforceable. A family law attorney can help a man or woman initiate and negotiate a support agreement.

Source: Toronto Sun, “Crying poor doesn’t work for Forest Hill lawyer in divorce court“, Michele Mandel, Jan. 19, 2017

The Benefits of Arbitration

When it comes to divorce, many people may imagine two spouses standing in front of a judge airing their grievances. However, couples in British Columbia have several choices, allowing them to find the process that fits best with their circumstances and their post-divorce goals. While there are pros and cons to litigation, mediation and arbitration, many find arbitration a better solution than going to court.

One of the benefits of arbitration is the flexibility. Instead of being at the mercy of a judge’s timetable, arbitration is scheduled at a time that is convenient for all involved. This often means your dispute is resolved faster than if you waited for a trial date. You also get to choose the arbitrator so you can be assured that he or she has extensive experience with family law. In court, you have no choice and no guarantee that the judge has a family law background.

Unlike mediation, at the end of an arbitration, a decision is always reached. However, you may not have the control over the decision that you might in a mediation. This is why many people choose arbitration when they have reached an impasse in mediation and need an objective outsider to reach a solution.

Those in British Columbia who can’t decide which method of divorce is best can also use a combination of mediation and arbitration. If this is something you are considering, West Coast ADR Law Group offers lawyers, mediators and arbitrators to help you resolve your divorce disputes in a manner that benefits your family. Many find that choosing alternative methods to litigation leaves them in a healthier, more positive place after their divorce.