• Spouses/parents work out amongst themselves the general terms (i.e., joint or sole custody, how much child support, how much spousal support and for how long, etc.).
• Lawyers provide independent legal advice to each party on the proposed terms and further negotiation may or may not be needed based on that advice.
• Lawyers draft a formal Agreement (cohabitation/marriage contract, separation agreement, or parenting agreement) for parties to sign.
• Parties sit down with an independent third person who is trained as a mediator to negotiate the issues in dispute
• If mediation is successful, parties are provided a mediation report setting out the terms that they have agreed to (non-binding at this stage)
COOPERATIVE – STANDARD SEPARATION AGREEMENT ROUTE
• Parties exchange full financial disclosure through their lawyers;
• Parties negotiate general terms through their lawyers;
• Lawyers draft specific terms into a formal Agreement (cohabitation/marriage contract, separation agreement or parenting agreement) for parties to sign.
• Parties sign a Participation Agreement whereby they commit to not pursuing Court, to negotiating a fair deal, treating each other with respect, etc. The Participating Agreement also provides that the lawyers and other professionals are not permitted to be involved in any court case regarding the parties other than for a simple Divorce;
• May or may not involve other professionals as part of a team including a Financial Professional and/or Family Professional (saves on legal fees having other professionals involved on the team);
• Full financial disclosure is exchanged and creative solutions presented by all professionals involved;
• A series of meetings are held to negotiate a resolution;
• Lawyers draft specific terms into a proper Agreement (cohabitation/marriage contract, separation agreement or parenting agreement).
• Similar to Court, but parties and their lawyers choose the “judge” (i.e., arbitrator) and determine procedural steps;
• Parties pay for the Arbitrator;
• Arbitrator makes binding decision.
LITIGATION IN COURT
• Many procedural steps/conferences must be attended to;
• Judge makes the final, binding decision, unless parties are able to negotiate a resolution outside of Court.