The separation and divorce process can be overwhelming and can be complicated by the litigation process. Separation means that the relationship between the parties has become strained, but often spouses are able to negotiate reasonably to achieve a separation agreement with the assistance of counsel.
Collaborative Parties Get Ahead In many situations, resolving disputes through settlement quickly and amicably may be the optimal process and outcome. Negotiating matters in good faith with the assistance of legal counsel can help you avoid the lengthy litigation process. Amicable settlements are often in the best interest of children impacted by the separation and can be effective where there is easily divisible property in dispute. In these cases, negotiating a mutually agreeable resolution can be both effective and cost-effective. Hostile Relationships Can Make Court Resolutions Necessary When relationships are corrosive and one or both parties are behaving in an aggressive manner, an amicable out-of-court resolution may not be possible or desirable. There are situations where the relationship has become so strained that court resolution is necessary. This was the case in Easson v Blase, 2015 ONSC 5170 (CanLII). In the above case, the father engaged in hostile behavior that made negotiating an amicable resolution impossible. The father brought a motion seeking: increased time sharing regarding the children, changes to the daily decision making, summer vacations to be divided equally, parallel parenting with a structure for resolving dispute in or out of court, change in schooling for one of the children and costs for the motion. Before court, due to the hostile relationship, the mother was unable or unwilling to agree to any of the father’s requests. The hostile relationship has a long history. The father would send the mother emails calling her names, saying she was “selfish,” a “terrorist,” “crazy,” a “hypocrite.” He referred to the mother’s lawyer using profanities under out of court questioning. The father also threatened to call U.S. Border Guards if the mother took the children across the border for a day trip into a neighbouring state. Even the agreed resolutions to parts of previous disputes could not be executed as the father refused to sign paperwork for resolutions he agreed to or which were court ordered. In resolving the matter, Justice McWatt’s order dismissed the father’s requests for changes to the custody arrangements. The Court Process May Assist Those With Uneven Resources It is not just hostile separations that require court intervention for optimal outcomes. In situations where the spouses have uneven resources, often the court process is required to ensure the spouse with fewer resources receives a fair resolution. Otherwise, the spouse with greater resources can force the other spouse into an unfair negotiated resolution. The need for court intervention was evident in Pollen v. Pollen, 2004 CanLII 5073 (ON SC). Mr. Pollen was required by a previous court order to regularly update Mrs. Pollen on any changes to his income. He made no such updates in 2001 or 2002. During this period of time, Mrs. Pollen had health concerns that forced her to be hospitalized in 2002. She was unable to work due to hypertension. Had Mrs. Pollen negotiated a resolution to their dispute during this time, she would have done so without the benefit of all of the information. While Mrs. Pollen was hospitalized and unable to work, Mr. Pollen’s total income rose from $59,363 in 2001 to $83,597 in 2002, and it was $83,318 in 2003. After receiving this information and hearing oral arguments, the court awarded a lump sum spousal support in the amount of $8,000 to cover the period from December 1, 2001 to the end of December 2002 and spousal support payments in the amount of $1,200 per month to commence January 1, 2003. Contact Elliot Starer- Your Richmond Hill Family Lawyer If you are undergoing a separation, you should consult with a trusted family law lawyer in Richmond Hill for advice on how to proceed. Elliot Starer can assist you to achieve a fair separation agreement through a negotiated resolution or litigation. Contact our Thornhill law firm today at 905-764-0074 for our services in Vaughan, Richmond Hill and other areas in York Region and the Greater Toronto Area.