The way that most people in Canada decide whether to retain the services of a divorce lawyer is through an initial consultation.
This session will normally help your lawyer understand your personal circumstances and advise you regarding your options for proceeding with your divorce.
To make the most of this session, it is important to be prepared.
The following tips will help ensure that you remain focused and get the maximum value from your initial consultation.
Learn The Different Options For Your Divorce
First, do some homework. It’s important to be familiar with some of the basic regulations, terminology, and processes for divorce in Canada so that you already have some understanding of your options as you walk into your meeting with a divorce lawyer.
Here are some of the matters you can cover in your research:
- Grounds for divorce in Canada – separation, cruelty, or adultery
- Separation periods – 12-month minimum separation is generally required
- Contested divorces – this is where you and your partner cannot reach agreement on key matters
- Uncontested divorces – where you and your spouse are able to agree on all the main issues in the divorce
- Negotiation (collaborative divorce) – where you and your spouse both hire lawyers to negotiate a separation agreement
- Mediation – where you and your spouse hire a professional mediator to help bring you to agreement
- Arbitration – where you both agree to abide by the decisions of an independent arbitrator
- Litigation – where you go to court and let a Judge decide some or all of the key outcomes of your divorce
The options for you and your spouse are many – and the decisions you make now could affect the rest of your lives.
It doesn’t need to end up in a high-conflict court battle. In fact, this is usually in few people’s interests – especially when there are children involved.
More often than not, amicable agreements can be reached out of court with the right legal assistance.
So, as difficult as it may be when emotions are running high, it’s important to research and come to your initial consultation prepared and ready to discuss your options.
Prepare Your Financial Records
The respective financial circumstances of you and your spouse are going to be a critical part of your divorce.
The division of assets and debts is always a key component of any divorce settlement, along with spousal support, and (if applicable) child support.
This will involve some financial decisions being made in consultation with your divorce lawyer.
Your lawyer will be able to guide you but you will need to be upfront with your assets and earnings. You should be prepared to corroborate the financial claims you make with supporting documentation.
According to Ontario’s Family Law Act, at least some of your property and assets (known as your Net Family Property) will be subject to division but some property may be excluded from division–an experienced divorce lawyer will guide you through the property that will be excluded from division.
If you can prepare as much of the paperwork as possible before your initial consultation, you will save yourself work (and more importantly, legal fees) further on in the process..
To help your divorce lawyer make the necessary property division calculations, you can start by preparing copies of the following:
- Your most recent 3 tax returns and Notices of Assessment
- Your most recent 3 paystubs
- Bank Statements
- Details of retirement accounts
- Investment account statements
- Property deeds and titles
- An inventory of other key assets including art or wine collections, jewelry, etc.
- An inventory of items that you or your spouse owned before the marriage
- Family business records (if applicable)
If you have a prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement, be sure to bring this to the initial consultation with your lawyer too, as it will likely affect the decisions you make moving forward and guide your financial responsibilities to your spouse.
Prepare A List Of Questions For Your Divorce Lawyer
Another good idea is to prepare a list of questions to cover the aspects of divorce that you are not clear on.
Your initial consultation is a two-way discovery process: your divorce lawyer will find out about your situation and what you want to get from the divorce but you will likely also have questions about the lawyer and the legal processes involved before you retain their services.
Having conducted countless initial consultations at Amiri Family law, we find the same questions are typically asked by prospective clients..
Some of the most important questions for the lawyer might be:
- How many divorces have you taken on that involve situations similar to mine?
- Do you prefer settlement or litigation?
- What are your fees and how will you charge me?
- Who will be handling my court appearances?
- Do you anticipate any difficulties with my situation?
- How will your firm keep me updated about my case?
Some of the most common general questions that people want to find answers to include:
- Can I keep the family home?
- Will I get custody of my children?
- How do we calculate child support and spousal support?
- What happens with the property that I brought into the marriage?
- What do I do if I suspect my spouse of adultery?
A final word before you arrange your initial consultation with your divorce lawyer. There is a tonne of information online about divorce but make sure that it is both accurate and that it applies to your situation.
We have had many clients working under false impressions because they took advice from the wrong online resources. If you are considering divorce, it is critical that you have your questions answered by a skilled and experienced divorce lawyer.
Schedule Your Free Consultation
The divorce lawyers at Amiri Family Law in Mississauga are experienced in both negotiation and litigation.
We can help you reach an amicable and cost-effective settlement that keeps you out of court. Start with a free consultation to help us evaluate your case.