You probably know by now that I am the guru of Ontario divorce solutions. I advocate minimizing the cost of an Ontario divorce by avoiding divorce lawyers and the Ontario Family Courts whenever possible. However, there are some situations that you should consider involving a lawyer. Here are the top 10:
1. Independent Legal Advice: When you come to an agreement and put it in writing. There are online resources that you can use to create your separation agreements and Ontario divorce agreements online. Each of you should get advice from a different lawyer (that’s 2 lawyers, one for each of you) to make sure you understand what you’re signing. The lawyers will also certify that you signed voluntarily, which will make the agreement less likely to be overturned later, if either of you try to set it aside.
2. Coaching: If your situation is relatively straight forward (ie: either or both of you are employed, own a house and have a couple of kids) then you could consider representing yourself in your separation or divorce with some coaching from a family law lawyer so that you understand the issues (they’re not that complicated) before you start negotiating. An Ontario Family Law lawyer can also give you some negotiating tips along the way.
3. Form Preparation Assistance: Even if you’ve decided to represent yourself, if you’re headed to Court, you probably could use some help completing those complicated Court Forms. If you choose to retain an Ontario divorce lawyer, the lawyer’s Law Clerk should be able to help you with that process at a fraction of the lawyer’s hourly rate. You can also use online services like My Ontario Divorce that offer tutorials that are really helpful if you are creating your own separation agreement or Ontario Divorce forms.
4. Ontario Family Court Representation: You may choose to self-represent except when you go to Court where you may want to retain an Ontario divorce lawyer to represent you, especially if your ex has retained one.
5. Initial Explanation and Guidance: When you decide to separate, it’s a good idea to consult with a lawyer to identify the issues that need to be resolved and to learn about your rights and obligations and how to achieve the best possible result for you.
6. Trial Preparation: If your case is headed to Trial in Ontario, it’s probably time to consider consulting a lawyer. Even if you decide to self-represent, if you can, consult an Ontario divorce lawyer to help you prepare for the Trial. It’s best to contact an Ontario divorce lawyer at least 120 days before the Trial date.
7. Motion/Case Conference Preparation: If your case is headed to a Case Conference or Temporary Motion, it’s probably a good idea to consider consulting an Ontario divorce lawyer. Even if you decide to self-represent, if you can, consult a lawyer to help you prepare for the Conference/Motion. Both require special paperwork. I suggest you consult at least 30 days before the Conference/Motion date.
8. Negotiation Coaching: Once you’ve had your initial explanation (as explained above) it’s a good idea to learn about the art of negotiation. Before you start negotiating. An experienced lawyer could give you some valuable insights and perspective that you won’t find in books (which you should read).
9. Document Review: Any Ontario Family Court document that you prepare for Court or to reflect an agreement should be reviewed by an Ontario Divorce lawyer to make sure that they cover all the legal bases necessary to reflect and protect your legal rights and obligations.
10. Complex Family Asset Mix: If you’re self-employed or have assets not including your house in excess of $500,000.00, then your situation may justify retaining an experienced Family Law Lawyer. This will help you understand the issues and minimize the financial impact if you are the one with the higher income and net worth or maximize your financial outcome if you are the one with the lesser income and net worth.
For more information about getting a divorce in Ontario and the types of circumstances where you may need to get an Ontario divorce lawyer please visit www.myontariodivorce.com