Before even contacting legal counsel, understanding the basic terms and concepts of family law can significantly help you to move forward through this period of your life. I have put together a few key terms here for you to review before we get started with the fundamentals of your case and circumstance.
Divorce: Marriage is a contract. A complicated contract. A lawyer negotiates custody, child access, support, and asset division. That takes time. But if you compromise, work with us, and be patient, you will be divorced. And you will have a new contract, a separation agreement, which clarifies custody, child access, support and asset division. The object is to get you moved on with your life.
Child custody; The law, as a custodian, rests with you. The better able to work with your former spouse, the less your lawyer is involved with less costs. Where I assist: Almost all files require mediation. Negotiating custody ensures you are informed and that you participate in your child’s education and health; the basic entitlements of a parent! By a decree of a court Order or Judgment, usually consented to, or by a separation agreement, custody and parenting are terms of your new contract.
Travel: On your way to Disneyland? Mexico? Hawaii? Usually not a problem. Buy your tickets and give notice. Usually a notarized letter does it. If disputed, a court Order can be obtained enabling you to travel with your children. I have assisted in dozens of such cases sometimes at the last minute.
Mobility; You want to live elsewhere with your child. This is difficult. Sometimes this is negotiable. More often this requires a court hearing. The moving spouse must demonstrate how a move enhances the child’s life. If not, very likely your child stays put. I have assisted persons wanting to move and successfully so. I have also blocked such court applications. Teach me the facts and I will increase your chances of success in court.
Child abduction; Removing a child from the community is contrary to the law. This often occurs within Canada. I quickly obtain a court Order obliging a child’s return. That Order is then filed where the child is. Enforcement steps can follow. Quick action once had a child returned from Ontario within weeks. The Hague Convention, international law, means you must act within six months from the date of abduction.
Child support; Support terms appear in a court Order/Judgment or a separation agreement. Shared parenting? This is becoming quite common. If so, child support is minimized. But child support is payable, to clothe, feed and house a child throughout school and sometimes beyond.
Post-secondary tuition? Do not despair. If negotiated early, such expenses are often negotiated with costs distributed between parents and the dependent child.
Spousal support: Use a free line program for a start.
But support is not just about income. The length of a relationship, education, health and child support are just as important.
So too is a well prepared and honest budget. An accurate budget is more revealing of one’s ability to pay than income. It has been my experience that use of a mediator is the means to conclude spousal support.
Property; If you had nothing at marriage assume assets and debt are equally divisible. Exchanging financial information, then crafting spreadsheet is a start. Expect some back and forth over proposals. If not settled early, an effective mediator usually gets it settled. This is a cost, but is far more economical than court; And reducing terms to writing is a starting point to your next contract, a separation agreement.