Getting a Divorce
Divorce is never easy; whether it is a well thought out mutual decision between two people or whether it is a situation that involves a lot of unresolved feelings that create a less amicable environment. Deciding to separate, and starting the process of obtaining a divorce, marks the start of a major transition for your family and the Calgary divorce lawyers at SVR are sensitive to that.
A typical, straightforward divorce usually progresses as follows:
Retain a Divorce Lawyer – when you consult with one of the divorce lawyers at SVR we will often encourage you to ensure that you feel confident and comfortable in your choice of a lawyer before you retain someone. Sometimes, this means consulting with different lawyers at different firms to make sure that the person you will be working with is a good fit for you. We are happy to provide referrals to facilitate this because we strongly believe that it is important that you make a well thought out decision on who to hire as your lawyer as this is a highly individualized and personal process.
Exchange Financial Disclosure – when we are dealing with matters that involve assets, liabilities and income levels, the financial disclosure process is essential. Read the FAQ to find out why this is so important. While the financial disclosure process can feel burdensome, it is the groundwork for the next steps in the divorce process.
Assess Potential Outcomes – once the financial disclosure is exchanged, your divorce lawyer will be in a position to assess the situation and the merits of any goals you may have for the outcome. We will explain the applicable legal principles to you and provide you with an opinion on a likely range of outcomes for the issues that exist on your matter. On a divorce without children, these issues usually include the division of family property and, in some instances, spousal support. When there are children involved we will also advise you in the areas of custody, parenting and child support.
Negotiate a Resolution – after you have the necessary information on potential outcomes we will be in a position to negotiate a resolution to the issues you are dealing with. The negotiation process can take on many different formats depending on the level of conflict, the complexity of the issues and how far apart the parties’ positions are.
Some options for reaching a resolution include:
Communication between the parties and their lawyers to exchange offers back and forth until an agreement is reached.
An in person settlement meeting between the parties and their respective lawyers to work towards reaching an agreement.
Lawyer assisted mediation where we engage an experienced and neutral family law mediator to assist in the negotiations.
Arbitration where the parties retain an independent arbitrator and give that person the authority to make a binding decision. Many times we engage a professional who will act as both mediator and arbitrator (known as a mediation/arbitration process). The process starts as a mediation and, if not agreement is reached on some or all of the issues, the mediator switches into the role of arbitrator.
Litigation (Court) – if negotiations fail, the other party will not agree to arbitration or your situation does not lend itself well to the above processes, the traditional court process can be an effective way to address any outstanding issues and obtain finality. Interim court applications to deal with urgent issues that arise as the matter progresses are also sometimes necessary.
Document the Outcome – If an agreement is reached short of arbitration or trial we typically prepare a Separation Agreement that sets out that agreement. Once the specific terms of the Separation Agreement have been agreed to, both parties will sign it with a lawyer. If the matter has been concluded at Arbitration or Trial there will be an Arbitration Award or Court Order that sets out the parties’ rights and obligation.
Apply for a Divorce – the final step is usually to finalize your divorce. This often done by way of “desk divorce”. The appropriate documents (pleadings) are submitted to the courthouse. A Judge reviews the pleadings and, if appropriate, grants the divorce. In some circumstances we can proceed with the divorce even if certain other issues have not yet been resolved. If there are children involved, the court will not grant the divorce if it is not satisfied that reasonable arrangements have been made for the support of any children. The court will rely on the applicable child support guidelines to satisfy itself that reasonable arrangements have been made unless there is good reason to deviate from the guidelines.
Wait for the Divorce to take effect – after a Justice grants your Divorce Judgment there is a 30 day appeal period. If neither party appeals, the Divorce Judgment is effective 31 days after it is granted.
Not all matters proceed in a straightforward and predictable manner and it is sometimes necessary to change the approach as the situation evolves and progresses. The divorce lawyers at SVR are able to recognize when a particular process is no longer effective or appropriate and will communicate this to you if it becomes necessary to change strategies.