We are in the process of setting up wellness seminars geared specifically for those thinking about separation, those in the middle of the separation journey and those who have completed their journey but still feel they need direction.
We are also developing an online coaching program that will assist you, in a practical but more limited way. Legal coaching is for those who are litigating but who cannot afford to engage a lawyer for every step. We will provide coaching on things like starting an Application, drafting a Factum, arguing a motion or representing yourself at a trial.
In addition, we have developed community partnerships, in the areas that we do not service, that can help you in the ways that we cannot. Please see our partnerships page for links to others we feel can help you as you move forward.
$595 + HST
The initial consultation is usually an hour and half. We will discuss the issues you are facing and offer some preliminary advice and thoughts. The issues that you are likely to deal with, in a traditional sense, most often include custody, access, child support, spousal support and a division of your property.
What to bring…
To help us at an initial consultation it would be helpful if you brought tax returns for the last three years for both yourself and your spouse. This information helps us develop positions on spousal support, child support and the sharing of certain childrens’ expenses.
It is also helpful if you have statements for your assets and liabilities at the date of separation. Your dad of separation, from a legal perspective is the date when one of you made the decision to separate and communicated that to your partner. You can still be living together but be considered separated. There is really no such thing as a ‘legal separation’. The date of your separation, however, is critically important in the determination of your property rights and obligations if you are married. If you are common law, property issues are much more complex. In that instance, title documents and evidence of ‘contribution’ would be helpful.
A point form life story can help us develop an understanding of any custody or access issues. If your child has any special needs, school reports, psycho educational assessments or medical reports may also be helpful.
The most important thing about the consultation is determining if you feel you can work with us. Generally, at the consult, we will provide you with support calculations, if relevant and a sense of property division, if relevant. We will follow-up the consultation with a written summary of our discussions.
At an initial consultation we will also canvass with you more in depth the costs you could be facing at each stage. We will explain the various dispute resolution options available to you and also try to work with you to tailor an approach that best matches your situation and your issues
The full service, or traditional model, is the most engaging. In this model we are with you from the beginning to the end, regardless of the preferred approach.
The most important step at the beginning of most cases is the exchange of full financial disclosure. The inability to secure full financial disclosure is one of the main reasons cases end up in court. That is because it is impossible to negotiate or mediate without disclosure. We cannot provide you with a reliable opinion without full disclosure. That means, your first task will be to complete a financial statement. This usually takes several meetings and phone calls and, depending on how quickly documents can be assembled, several weeks. Even if court is the preferred approach, if there are support or property issues we cannot proceed without a sworn financial statement.
As early as possible we will try to provide you with an assessment of ‘worst case’ and ‘best case’ results. This exercise is easier on the financial issues because those are governed by Tables, calculations and ranges. The exercise is harder when we are dealing with custody and access issues.
Initial Retainer $5,000.00
If we decide to negotiate, we will schedule a date to exchange financial disclosure with the other side. We may suggest the exchange of position statements and then a meeting with the other side. Most cases are not completed after one settlement meeting. It usually takes several. To engage in this approach, we start with a retainer of $5,000.00.
If we decide to mediate, we will recommend several mediators for consideration by yourself and your former spouse. The mediator will meet with you and your spouse separately and make an assessment of the effectiveness of the approach. Mediation can take place with or without lawyers. Usually that is your choice, but the mediator, at times, may recommend lawyers attend. If you choose to go on your own, we will meet with you periodically during the process as needed. To engage this approach, we start with a retainer of $5,000.00.
If mediation is unsuccessful or only partially successful we may elect to arbitrate some or all of the issues. The benefit of arbitration is that you can chose a professional with a specific set of knowledge and/or skills. It can be expensive, however, because you will be paying legal fees as well as 50% of the arbitrator’s fees. To engage in this approach, we start with a retainer of $7,500.00.
Litigation should always be an approach of last resort. That is because it is the most costly and takes the most amount of time. Every lawyer is required under our Rules of Professional Conduct to canvass and recommend settlement wherever possible. At times, however, settlement is simply not possible. Every family law matter is governed by the Family Law Rules. That means the court controls the process through a series of required attendances, all designed to narrow the issues and promote settlement at each step. To start litigation we require an initial retainer of $10,000.00.
Early Neutral Evaluation
Flat fee: $5,950.00 plus HST
Conceptually, early neutral evaluation is an approach that can be used by both clients and lawyers. This is more of a triage approach to give you, or your current lawyer, a neutral and unbiased assessment of the merits and weakness of your case. Ideally, you and your partner or your two lawyers engage us early in the process with a view to using the analysis as a settlement template. You, or your lawyers, would provide a written brief, including any relevant evidence you intend to rely on and we would provide a written analysis of the case.
Charged at an hourly rate of $595.00 + HST
The concept of unbundled arose as a result of the Law Society’s recommendations concerning access to justice. Bottom line is, this process is expensive. Not everyone needs full service legal engagement. Some people need only some documents generated or proof read. Some people want a lawyer to attend court for only one attendance. There are a myriad of tasks that can form part of an unbundled engagement, depending on your needs.
Collaborative Family Law
Initial retainer $5,000.00
Only certain professionals have undertaken the intensive training to be qualified and certified in Collaborative Family Law. This approach is considered a form of alternative dispute resolution. It is designed to keep your matter out of court and in the negotiation forum. Essentially, the lawyers, clients and any other necessary collaboratively trained professionals, like business valuators, work together as a team to accomplish a resolution that is fair and balanced for all parties. If that process breaks down the engagement ends and the collaborative lawyers cannot take the matter to court. This approach takes away the threat to end negotiations to take the matter to court.
Explaining the Retainer
A retainer is a deposit we require to start working on your file. If you decide to engage us, we will review a copy of our retainer contract with you in detail.
It is important to remember about Retainers, that this money is put into a Trust account. That means, we are holding it in trust for you. Once we have done work on your file we will render and account. The total of the account will be taken out of the retainer and the remainder will continue to be held in trust. We will ask you to top-up your retainer when needed and we will return any balance to you that is not use.
Family law lawyers are not permitted to assess an extra fee once a matter is completed depending on the result. Family law lawyers cannot work on contingency.