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The DCB Process

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The DCB Process

Step 1 Initial Consultation

You may contact us by telephone, email or fax to arrange an initial consultation. Our experienced, friendly and perceptive intake coordinator, Tania Gort will assist you to arrange a meeting with one of our experienced lawyers. No confidential information will be accepted prior to your meeting in our office.

When you first arrive at our offices, you will be required to provide photo i.d. such as a driver’s licence or passport for identification purposes in accordance with By-Law 7.1 of The Law Society of Upper Canada. No confidential information will be accepted prior to your meeting in our office.

You will then meet with a lawyer and associate or clerk. We do only in depth initial meetings so that you can benefit from the lawyer’s preliminary views and advice from the outset. The meeting will usually last between 1 ½ and 2 hours. The associate or clerk will take detailed notes, so that the lawyer can devote full attention to the client.

We will provide you with a number of forms: Retainer, Directions, Privacy Policy, Administrative Procedures, Financial Statement, Custody Affidavit to be filled out if appropriate, and other relevant documents. We ask that you pay for the initial consultation at the lawyer’s hourly rate for one hour of time, regardless of how long the meeting lasts. If appropriate we will discuss what financial arrangements should be made; this will depend on what work you wish us to undertake.

Step 2 Contacting Your Spouse

There is no contact with your spouse until you are ready for your spouse to be contacted. When the time is appropriate, you can tell your spouse that you have consulted with or retained our firm. However, we understand that there are circumstances which make such direct contact inappropriate. We will then send a letter to the spouse by email, courier, or ordinary mail, as may be appropriate. Normally we will prepare the letter in your presence when we meet with you. We all appreciate how important it is to tailor our approach to your unique and particular circumstances. In the unusual, but sometimes necessary situation, we will prepare a Court Application and simply serve it on your spouse.

It is always important that your spouse have independent legal advice. We therefore always urge that your spouse consult with a lawyer as soon as possible.

Step 3 Gathering Information

Whether or not you wish to negotiate a Cohabitation Agreement, Marriage Contract or Separation Agreement or want to start a Court Application or Arbitration, you need to give and receive full financial disclosure.

This will normally require you and your spouse to swear a Financial Statement and, in addition to exchange Income Tax Returns, Corporate Financial Statements and other documents relevant to the financial circumstances of each of you.

Step 4 Settlement Negotiations

It is always better to settle your dispute for many reasons, including:

  1. The financial cost is less.
  2. The emotional cost is less.
  3. It is more likely that the family will remain friendly and cooperative.
  4. Parties are generally more willing to abide by a negotiated settlement than a result that has been imposed on them by a court or arbitrator.

Therefore, if there is cooperation, we embark upon settlement negotiations. This can be done between lawyers or at 4 way meetings with all parties and lawyers present, or with the assistance of a mediator, or a combination of all approaches. Often parenting disputes are better dealt with by the parents talking to one another either directly or with the assistance of a parenting mediator so that they can decide what is best for the children; the lawyers do not need to become involved until the agreement needs to be reduced to writing. Financial issues are best handled with the involvement of the lawyers throughout.

Step 5 Litigation

If your relationship has broken down and settlement negotiations are not resulting in a settlement, you may well have to contemplate court or arbitration.

The advantage to a court process is that the judge, court staff and facilities are paid for by the government. The procedure is entrenched in the Family Law Rules. The advantage of arbitration is that you and your spouse can choose your adjudicator. The procedure is set by agreement between the spouses and the arbitrator within the paramaters of the Arbitration Act. The unique circumstances of your case will determine which process best suits your needs.

If you or your spouse proceeds by a court Application, the following are the minimum steps:

  1. Application is issued and served.
  2. Answer is served and filed.
  3. Reply is served and filed.
  4. A Case Conference is held before a judge.
  5. After a Case Conference, motions may be brought for interim orders, such as temporary support, temporary custody, temporary exclusive possession of the home.
  6. Disclosure is exchanged.
  7. A Settlement Conference is held before a judge.
  8. A Trial Management Conference is held before a judge.
  9. The Trial is held. Sometimes an Exit Pre Trial is held just before the Trial to afford the parties one last opportunity to settle.
  10. Either party has a right to appeal.

It is always important to present realistic Offers to Settle as early in the process as possible. At any stage in the process you can still negotiate a settlement and sign a Separation Agreement or other settlement document. An Offer to Settle will enhance your prospect of settling, but, if no settlement is achieved, it will be an important factor in the determination of who pays the costs of the trial.