Family Law Real 101 Episodes

What are the Best Alternatives to Going to Court When Separating?

In this episode of Real Estate 101: The Home Buying and Selling Show, Family Lawyer John Schuman explains the alternatives to going to court when separating or divorcing.

Does a Couple Have to go to Court When Separating?

No. In fact, court is the most expensive and time-consuming, not to mention the most emotionally tasking option when working out issues with your spouse. Instead, there are several alternatives to going to court when separating and most of them might actually work better for both sides.

The only time that family court is the best solution is when the judge’s coercive powers are required. This can be in cases where one of the spouses has substance abuse issues, is abusive or mentally ill. In any other situation, going to court is not always the best option.

Another reason for not going to court when separating is that it costs five to ten times more than any other method. This is because the court is designed around numerous safeguards and those can cost a lot of money.

With court, you are also less involved in the process then you can be with any of the other alternatives.

What Alternatives to Going to Court When Separating are There?

There are several alternatives to going to court when separating. The first one is to negotiate with your spouse without a lawyer. Often, however, the couple will need to involve a lawyer in their dispute. The first reason for doing so is to know your settlement range. This allows you to know the worst and best settlement you can accept. Without a lawyer, you are unlikely to know your settlement range.

You should also use the services of a lawyer when it’s time to write up an agreement. According to Ontario Family Law, the judge will pay attention to it only if you show that you understood it at the time it was created. Not being family lawyers, most people do not understand the legal ramifications of such a contract and would need to hire a lawyer to explain it to them.

Another alternative to going to court when separating is mediation. This is a situation when you involve a third person (lawyer or social worker) who both you and your spouse trust. The mediator can then offer some advice or guidance on how you can come to the best resolution.

You can also hire an arbitrator. Arbitrators are involved in cases when the spouses can never agree on certain issues. The arbitrator’s decision is binding.

If you and your spouse are having difficulty negotiating, but still want to get along, you can use collaborative process. This can give both of you more structure and guidance on how to negotiate.

The decision regarding what alternative to use depends on how much intervention from outside you need. The more outside intervention you get, the less you will be involved in your own settlement.

Watch this episode to learn more about alternatives to going to court when separating.

For more information on family law contact:

John Schuman


Phone: 416.446.5080

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