Understanding your process options is crucial in family law. The choice of process often impacts how long your matter may take to settle and how much it will cost. We discuss process options with all clients at their Initial Consultations. They are:
We are strong proponents of the Collaborative Family Law process. We have found that this non-adversarial approach to resolving family law issues results in the highest level of satisfaction for our clients. Clients who choose the Collaborative Process commit to resolve their matter outside of court, putting all of the control in their hands. Our role in the Collaborative Process is to represent your interests and provide you with the information and options you need to make decisions regarding the outcome of your case. For more information on the Collaborative Family Law process, click here.
Negotiation represents the “traditional” out-of-court process, whereby each party is represented by a lawyer who negotiates a settlement on their behalf. Unlike the Collaborative process however, in traditional negotiation, either party may change their mind at any time and begin a Court application. When this happens, the other party has no choice but to respond. For this reason, if you are choosing the traditional negotiation process, you should always ensure that your lawyer will be able to represent your interest in the Court process, if required.
These methods of dispute resolution involve a neutral third party (the mediator or arbitrator), who either assists the parties in reaching a resolution (mediator) on their own, or makes a decision that may or may not be binding on the parties (arbitrator). It is important to note that neither a mediator nor an arbitrator can provide either party with legal advice. For this reason, if you are in the process of separation, you should always consult a lawyer prior to committing to one of these processes.
In the family court process, the parties leave the decision making in the hands of the Judge. As a result, this process provides the parties with the least control over the outcome of their case. Although most family law matters can be resolved through one of the ADR processes listed above, in some cases, court litigation is necessary. You should always consult an experienced family law lawyer if you are considering bringing your family law matter before the court, or have been served with court documents.