Divorce and Separation
Divorce & Separation Services
Divorce and separation is a very difficult time. Much of the turmoil and worry surrounds what will happen to each of the parties in the near future; a further worry is how one would move forward once the matters are completed and the issues are resolved.
What Separation Services do you provide?
In the early post separation period, we will work with you to put in place a plan that incorporates your immediate needs and goals. We will also plan with you in the mid-term and continue such work with you until the file is completed. Our goal is to put you, the client, in the best position to move on with your life.
We understand that in the short term, individuals worry about where they will live, the financial aspects of their lives, and accordingly, the quality of their lifestyle, their future income and new living and perhaps parenting arrangements. As discussed below, we can help with such living and parenting issues, support issues and financial & asset-based issues. The experienced and knowledgeable family lawyers at Thomas and Associates can help you navigate the often confusing paperwork and decisions involved in separation and divorce, aiming always for a positive resolution for you and your family.
Where negotiation is possible, we seek all appropriate disclosure from the other party so we can begin our analysis as to a fair and proper resolution of the file issues. Where needed, we may seek out experts to assist with business valuations, income determination or the appraisal of family assets such as the family home or other assets. Sometimes it is appropriate to obtain expert reports on what is typically known as custody and access, now referred to as parenting arrangements and parenting time and guardianship.
Once the disclosure and expert reports (if needed) are received we can then begin the negotiation process. In many cases, the parties through their lawyers can negotiate a fair and proper Separation Agreement. In other instances, the parties agree to attend mediation with their lawyer to explore resolution of the file. Where a mediator is employed, the parties are able to choose a particular mediator. The lawyers at Thomas & Associates can assist you in choosing the appropriate mediator for your file.
What is in a Separation Agreement?
We will discuss with you the best model that fits the file issues and background. Sometimes Separation Agreements can be commenced soon after separation; other times neither party is able to put their efforts into a Separation Agreement right away as a time out is required. Other times both a time out and document disclosure is required. To negotiate a fair and proper agreement, both parties need to be able to engage in such discussions without reservation. It can take time to get to that stage, but in the meantime we can work to ready the file for resolution.
Once an agreement is reached, we draft a detailed Separation Agreement that sets out the settlement details from parenting arrangements, income determination and associated support issues including child support, spousal support, future possible variations and a division of family assets and a division of debt. The parties have the flexibility to add as much detail as needed to make the agreement effective in the short and long term.
For instance, we can set out specific terms concerning:
- parenting time on a regular basis and over holiday periods
- income determination matters. This is more difficult where one of the parties may receive bonuses and stock options, or own a company from which he takes his income
- future income and support reviews
- family asset division and family debt division
- specific issues particular to your family
- how future disputes are to be resolved.
The benefits of negotiating a successful Separation Agreement are that the parties end up controlling the process and the end result. The downside to trial is that the end result is left to the trial judge. Sometimes that is what is required, but if a fair and appropriate separation can be negotiated, the negotiation and/or mediation process should be explored.
A Separation Agreement can go through many revisions, and family lawyers help with this. If a couple and their legal team cannot settle certain items, going to court may be required. Our lawyers have completed many court-based separation decisions.
Divorce can only be granted by the Supreme Court and is a legal termination of a marriage. A divorce is required before you remarry. The court will grant a divorce if you or your spouse demonstrates a breakdown in the marriage by showing:
- You have been separated (lived apart) for at least one year
- One spouse committed adultery
- One spouse was physically or mentally cruel to the other.
We have built our business on establishing trust with our clients and by proving our capabilities both in and out of court.
The team at Thomas and Associates can help gather all the documents and information necessary to get the divorce or separation process started. We can also help with assessing finances, assets, debts and resolving issues regarding children.
Once we have gathered all the information, we can advise on the best possible path to take based on our knowledge of the courts and our wealth of experience. In other words, “We’ve seen it all before.” Our senior lawyer is available to lead the case, and other staff members step in at appropriate times to keep costs lower overall.
Prenuptial and Marriage Agreements
With changes in family law over the recent decades, greater weight is now given to things like prenuptial agreements. Prenuptial Agreements are sometimes referred to as Marriage Agreements. Where the parties are not married, they are referred to as Cohabitation Agreements.
The goal of either Cohabitation Agreement or Marriage Agreements is to set out at the start of a particular relationship what will happen in the future should the parties separate at a future unknown time. Such agreements necessarily have an aspect of crystal ball gazing. As a result, these types of agreements are subject to unexpected future events that might impact the agreement’s ultimate enforceability. In many cases, it is more powerful to limit such agreements to what will happen to assets and perhaps spousal support. Many of the considerations that go into drafting a Separation Agreement will also be issues in drafting a Cohabitation and/or Marriage Agreement. For high net worth and moderate net worth individuals, we recommend getting private agreements in place before undertaking partnerships that could have unintended financial consequences. When in doubt, get advice.
To get started with any of these services relating to Prenuptial Agreements, Separation Agreements and other services, please contact our office at 604-549-9961 or submit our Contact form. We understand that trusting your personal situation to a legal team usually requires you meet with us first. To facilitate this, as a new client, your first hour’s consultation with a Thomas and Associates lawyer is offered at half rates.