Many people go into a divorce with bitter feelings, and that is entirely understandable. One spouse may feel animosity toward the other, or possibly anger and resentment. However, it may still be preferable to take a more civilized approach during the divorce than doing battle in court. Mediation allows both parties to work out their settlement issues in a non-confrontational setting. The following story provides an example — albeit an extreme one — of what malicious litigation can do to some people.
A man and woman in British Columbia divorced several years ago. The pair had two daughters, and the mother was awarded child support. Around that time, the man’s business began to fall apart, and he eventually went bankrupt. Although he tried to make support payments, they weren’t always enough, and while he begged the court to reduce the amount, his wife demanded he pay up, and she requested a $10,000 fine for contempt of court. She also accused him of assault — a crime for which he was arrested but of which he was acquitted.
According to his wife (he remarried in 2015), he was on the hook for $8,000 a month in support payments for his daughters by his ex-wife, and a son he had with an ex-fiancée. He had also paid about $330,000 in legal fees, spent time in jail for non-payment, was alienated from his children, had been locked out of his bank accounts, and was in danger of losing his driver’s licence and passport. Unable to cope any longer, he took his own life in March 2017.
Most family law cases do not go as badly as this one, but it illustrates what can happen when there is no dialogue during a divorce. A divorcing couple that chooses mediation in British Columbia has the opportunity to talk about their situations and can work alongside their legal representative to find solutions together. A lawyer who understands the hardships of divorce will work with his or her client every step of the way.
Source: National Post, “B.C. man pleads for family court reform in suicide note“, Christie Blatchford, March 28, 2017
In most cases, parents will continue to be connected through their children, and will need to see each other and raise children in harmony. Beginning with mediation is the perfect way to start. When parents create a parenting plan, they must make the best interests of the child their primary concern. The same is true if the issue goes to court; a judge will base his decision on the child’s best interests.
The term ‘best interests of the child’ refers to anything that protects the psychological, physical and emotional safety of the child, as well as the child’s well-being and security. Any agreement two parents make must consider these needs primarily; any benefits to the parents are incidental. Parents are encouraged to think about the child’s relationships with the people in their lives, and who has historically cared for the children. If there is any risk of exposure to family violence, whether direct or observed, this must also factor in to any agreement.
Although a divorce signals the beginning of a new period of independence for the adults, for the children, life should continue as close to normal as possible. By focusing on the child’s best interests, two parents should be able to create a plan that provides for the ongoing nurturing of their most precious gift. A person considering mediation may wish to contact a British Columbia family law firm with experience in that area.
Source: gov.bc.ca, “What does the law mean by ‘best interests of the child’?“, April 16, 2017
Settling any aspect of a divorce in a British Columbia court adds an unwelcome degree of uncertainty. Once a judge has made a ruling, it can be very difficult to make any adjustments. One unfortunate father found this out after choosing to represent himself during a support hearing. Had there been an opportunity to try collaborative law, the outcome may have been better, but as it was, the final ruling drastically changed his life.
A man and woman divorced and went to court to settle the matters of child and spousal support in June 2012. The man worked as a flooring salesperson at a company of which he formerly owned half. In his ruling, the judge determined the man was performing the same functions as before, but deliberately chose to earn less money. As such, an imputed salary was the basis for the awards for child and spousal support.
The judge dismissed the man’s claim to a monthly salary of approximately $5,400, and awarded $4,000 in spousal support and $2,866 in child support each month. Since that ruling, the man has tried repeatedly to have that figure reduced in light of his changed financial situation. His ex-wife filed motions to dismiss his claims each time. In late Nov. 2016, a judge finally ruled in his favour and dismissed the woman’s motion. Unfortunately, the gentleman is $500,000 behind on payments, living with his new wife with his parents, and is at risk of losing his driver’s licence for nonpayment.
With or without representation, going to court is a difficult way to work out a divorce settlement. A better option may be to try collaborative law. By each working with their own lawyer, two parties can have a chance to discuss their needs and wants and work together toward a solution, rather than let an outside party dictate the outcome. An experienced British Columbia lawyer will work alongside a client to help ensure a positive ending.
Source: National Post, “Ontario father paying twice his after-tax monthly income to his ex-wife“, Christie Blatchford, April 4, 2017
It is no secret that life after divorce is entirely different than it was before. Many people are not fully prepared for the challenges their new lives will bring, however. A recent study shows divorce can strain finances to the breaking point. For some men and women in British Columbia, collaborative law may hold some of the keys to a solution.
A survey conducted in Ontario asked insolvent men and women to name the major contributing factors to their financial troubles. One of the main causes cited was divorce. It was most prevalent among those aged 40 to 49; 20 percent of people in this age bracket called it a major contributor to their insolvency. Divorce is not typically the sole cause of a financial collapse, but it can bring down an already rickety fiscal structure.
In many marriages, both spouses contribute to the household income, but there’s only one set of bills to pay. After a divorce, each person has to pay his or her own bills on a single income. This can be a shocking reality for many. Exacerbating the situation may be the obligation to pay support, the additional burden of having custody of the children on a lower income and legal fees.
There may be ways for a divorcing couple to ease into single life on sound financial footing. Choosing a collaborative law divorce over going to court can greatly reduce legal fees. The former couple can also work together with their representatives to arrive at mutually agreeable numbers to include in the settlement. A skilled British Columbia lawyer may be able to help an individual take some of the financial sting out of divorce.
Source: globalnews.ca, “Heartbroken and bankrupt: Why divorce can destroy your finances“, Erica Alini National, April 17, 2017