Divorce can be a tricky and expensive system in Canada, especially when couples don't fully understand how it works.
Ron Shulman, founder of Shulman Law Firm in Toronto, says most people don't anticipate the complexity of family law as well as the procedures around divorce.
"If they come in with information they have found online it’s often incorrect. Friends also often provide information that’s misleading," he tells The Huffington Post Canada.
"It’s best to get information first-hand from a divorce lawyer who will work to understand your situation and provide the best way to move forward."
The cost and the length of divorce in Canada depends on three variables: complexity, degree of adversity, and cooperation from the spouse, he adds.
On average, at his firm, the process can take between three to six months, but through court, this can take between one to two years.
"From our experience, however, over 90 per cent of cases do not reach trial, and settle at some point along the way," Shulman says.
Costs can also be tricky. Of course, everything depends on the lawyer and case type, but in 2007 the Toronto Star reported the average cost of divorce with a three-day trial can be more than $60,000.
Below Shulman tells us six things everyone going through a divorce should keep in mind in order for it to go smoothly.
Make an early offer to settle: "You cannot resolve a case without providing the other side with a ‘way out.' An early offer to settle provides a clear structure to having the matter end," Shulman says. He adds even if the offer is not accepted, it provides a framework for the negotiations.
"In addition to opening the door to negotiations in a structured manner, a properly drafted offer to settle protects our clients against costs. The Family Law Rules provide cost consequences if a reasonable offer was not accepted, in that the other party may end up paying the full legal costs of the parties making the offer, if certain conditions are met. This is a very powerful tool at the lawyer’s disposal," he adds.
Make sure you and your lawyer are "aligned": Your lawyer must be aligned with what you want, Shulman says. "If your lawyer is not clear as to your objectives, she or he will waste your money and time pursuing something which may not be important to you, or failing to pursue what is important."
However, he adds, this should not be a guessing game on your end.
"Before seeing a lawyer, make a list of items and issues important to you, then prioritize them in an order. Note near each item what you can compromise on."
If you have kids, you may see your spouse again: Even if you don't live together, it doesn't mean you won't see your former partner at some point again in your life.
You may have to seen at a child's wedding or if there is a family gathering or prominent event.
"It is imperative to think long term and not be blinded by the ‘fight of the moment.' ‘Cheap shots’ used simply to hurt the other parent is not a good idea," Shulman says.
Stay off social media: Social media is not a place to vent about your divorce or your ex, ever. "The posts can be easily obtained and used in court. It would just add to the cost and adversity of the matter, and achieve no gain," he says.
Do not respond to provocation: Shulman says often at times when faced with negative comments by the spouse, many clients fight back.
"This is often the wrong approach, which will likely cost you. The key is not to be reactive, but proactive in terms of focusing on the objectives and facts which support it."
Do not argue for something you may not understand: "If you have a lawyer, ask as many questions as you need to understand. It is your lawyer’s job to make sure you understand, so you can make decisions which will affect you and your children’s lives," Shulman adds.
Shulman says sometimes, for example, clients say they want "sole custody" of their children, but later realize they want "primary residence of the child."
"Once clients understand the difference, their objective often changes," he says.
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