Hold It: The implications of putting your family law matters on hold

Some matrimonial matters move fast and some move slowly, but what are the potential effects of putting your matter "on hold"?

Hi, I am Nick Slinko of Feldstein Family Law Group.

Some matrimonial matters move fast and some move slowly; this normally depends on the parties and their lawyers. Some matters don’t move at all. This is usually because one or both parties have decided to put their matter “on hold”. Today, I will discuss the implications of putting your matter “on hold”.

Parties may decide to try and reconcile and therefore instruct our firm to put their matter on hold until further notice. Other times, however, parties try to come to various terms on their own and then instruct their lawyers once they are ready. In some situations this works and in other cases, it does not. When parties put their matters on hold to attempt mediation, that may have positive results. I am referring to the ones who simply put the matter on hold without qualified third party assistance.

Putting a matter on hold may work when the parties continue to work on settlement, have productive child centred discussions and inform the lawyers once they reach agreement. When it comes to financial issues the parties often reach a stalemate and come back to their lawyers no further ahead. This can be costly since the lawyer now has to go back to the file, review the notes and advice previously given. Of greater concern and often the case, the parties go back to their lawyers on an urgent matter, such as a house closing, without an agreement regarding the equalization payment and division of proceeds.

Parties often feel they can save money by attempting negotiations on their own, and sometimes they can. When they cannot, it becomes much more costly, urgent and the client may feel unsatisfied. For example, without agreement on how much each party will receive on a house closing, neither party may receive any funds and it will be held in the real estate lawyer’s trust account pending agreement or court order. Had the parties continued negotiating with the help of their respective lawyers, they may have reached agreement prior to closing.

At times there is good reason to put a matter on hold- if one party wants a limitation period to expire, putting a matter on hold may accomplish that goal; for example the 6 year limitation period for making a claim to an equalization payment.

Generally parties want closure, to move their matter forward efficiently and expeditiously. It is simply important to be aware that putting your matter on hold may have pitfalls. Be aware of them.

Thank you for taking the time to listen to me today. Should you require more information and wish to schedule a consultation, please visit our website or contact our office at (905) 581-7222. Thank you.

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