What to do When You Don’t Want to go to Court
Hello, I am Andrew Feldstein of the Feldstein Family Law Group. Today we will discuss how you can resolve your family law matter in a civil manner without resorting to the court process.
I, and many other family law lawyers, would rather see parties negotiate mutually satisfactory agreements. The advantage of these agreements is that they can be specifically tailored to the parties’ unique circumstances, rather than a judge or arbitrator deciding for them the future of their family arrangements.
What does it mean to be civil? Civility requires more than good intentions, it requires active self-awareness and participation.
While many separating parties have good intentions and want to resolve their matter in a “civil way”, they want guidance on how to put it into practice. Here are some tips that I suggest my clients keep in mind as they work through the resolution process:
- Treat each other with mutual respect. This is your chance to move forward and resolve matters in a way that satisfies both parties. Avoid raising past disputes or marital difficulties. Your focus should be on building a better future and not reliving the past.
- People intending to maintain civility can easily forget or have a momentary lapse when emotions are running high. Where parties are unable to separate their emotions from the legal issues, negotiations can be derailed to their detriment.
- Respect is more than politeness. In dispute resolution, civility requires an understanding of, and respect for, the other party’s legal rights.
- Full and frank financial disclosure is more than just the law; it is a crucial element to amicable settlement. You need to be willing to disclose to the other party all relevant information related to the children and your finances. Neither you nor your spouse can make fully informed decisions about critical issues such as parenting arrangements, child support, spousal support, and property division. Hiding or refusing to disclose information will not only break down any trust in the negotiation process, it can lead to the agreement being challenged at a later date.
- Only once both parties have produced their disclosure for each other can they begin working towards a Separation Agreement. This process of creating a Separation Agreement tailored to your circumstances and future goals is both flexible and varied. Clients have many dispute resolution options outside of the formal court system including negotiation, mediation/arbitration, four-way meetings, parenting coordinators, counselling, or collaborative family law.
For more information on different processes and procedures, please see our website or speak with your lawyer about which one, or a combination, of them will be best for your matter.
While the process to a civil resolution of your matter may be emotionally trying and require a great deal of strength and self-discipline, I believe it is worth it in the end.
Walking away with an amicable settlement gives you the satisfaction of knowing you have a resolution made by you that works for you. Resorting to a Court or arbitrator to make the final decision for you can be less satisfying, more costly, and may leave you with a resolution that does not suit your needs or plans.