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After the Breakup: The Road to Resolution Issues

The following is meant to be a very brief summary of a very complex field of law. They are intended to assist you in focusing on the things the courts will see as important as we work towards the resolution of your family law matter. The role of your lawyer is to assist you in providing the information that will be needed by the courts or the other party's lawyer to assist you in resolving your matter in a timely and cost-efficient manner.

Issues

The issues that are often involved in a breakup include:

  • Children
  • Support
  • Division of property
Desired Outcomes

The outcomes from a breakup that people usually seek include:
  • Best interests of children
  • Security
  • Certainty
  • Compensation
  • Closure

Law

Two primary laws govern family law in British Columbia:

  1. Family Relations Act:
    The Family Relations Act is the provincial legislation which covers the breakdown of a relationship including:
    1. Division of property (including pensions)
    2. Child custody and access
    3. Child and spousal support
  2. Divorce Act:
    The Divorce Act is the law that is applied to all marriage breakdowns across Canada. It covers issues such as:
    1. Divorce
    2. Child custody and access
    3. Child and spousal support

Presumptions of the Court

This section is meant to be a very brief summary of a very complex field of law. They are intended to assist you in focusing on the things the courts will see as important as we work towards the resolution of your family law matter.

The role of your lawyer is to assist you in providing the information that will be needed by the courts or the other party's lawyer to assist you in resolving your matter in a timely and cost-efficient manner.Presumptions of the Court:

  1. Children:
    The Court considers the following when making decisions regarding children:
    • Best interest of child - paramount to any other decision about the child
    • Children do best where both parents are involved
    • Share or portion of support based on Child Support Guidelines
  2. Assets:
    Family assets are those assets that are used for a family purpose (such as a house). They will be divided equally, unless it would be unfair to do so. The Court considers the following grounds in deciding whether an equal division would be unfair:
    • the duration of the marriage
    • the time that the spouses have lived separate and apart
    • the date when property was acquired or disposed of
    • whether property was an inheritance or a gift
    • the need of either spouse to become or remain economically dependent or self-sufficient
    • other circumstances relating to either the property or the capacities or the liabilities of the spouses
  3. Spousal Support:
    The Court presumes the following when determining spousal support:
    • Marriage creates an obligation to support.
    • Obligation to support modified by obligation of both spouses to be self sufficient, if reasonable in circumstances
    • The courts will use support to compensate a spouse for economic disadvantage he or she suffered because of the marriage
    • The share or portion of support will be based on the needs and means of the parties and their ability to pay
About Fees

These fees are estimates only and are based on our experience of the average cost clients have paid for these types of services. Fees vary widely depending on:
  • the complexity of the matter
  • the degree of cooperativeness of the client
  • the reasonableness of the other side and their counsel

PST and GST are payable on all legal fees.

When you Hire a Lawyer

  1. Fees are usually charged based on time spent on a file. Be sure to ask the lawyer's hourly rate.
  2. Retainers are paid as security for future fees. They remain in your trust account until work is done and billed. They are then transferred to the lawyer's account.
  3. Organize your lawyer. The more work you do, the less you pay. Don't pay a lawyer to organize a large pile of documents chronologically.
  4. Remember - a "win" is always measured by the final outcome, after you have paid legal fees. Litigation is very expensive, and emotionally taxing. It often makes sense to give up small things to achieve resolution.

Fees - Negotiation of a Resolution

Activity: Cost
Achieve agreement without assistance of counsel and hire lawyers to draft and sign agreement $1,000 to $1,500 for each party
Attend at one mediation session and reach agreements and hire lawyers to draft and sign agreement $1,500 to $2,000 for each party
Attend at one mediation session with lawyers. Lawyers draft the agreement and you sign it $2,500 to $3,000 for each party
Collaborative agreement resulting in four 4-way meetings with lawyers involved, resulting in an agreement $3,000 to $6,000 for each party
Uncontested divorce when all other matters are resolved (including filing costs) $1,700 to $2,000 for the party

Fees - Litigation

Negotiations will take place throughout the litigation process - there will be meetings with you, other counsel, parties and counsel and witnesses that will add to the cost. Over 95% of family cases that begin with the filing of the filing of the Writ and Statement of Claim are settled before trial.

Activity: Cost
Draft, file and serve Writ, Statement of Claim, Financial Statement and Demand for Financial Statement $1,500
Attend Judicial Case Conference $2,500
Draft, file and serve application for interim support, custody, possession of home and argue matter in court $5,000 per application
Attend Examinations for Discovery $2,000 to $3,000 per day
Trial of matter $5,000 to $7,000 per day