Mediation is a form of dispute resolution for couples who seek to resolve their family issues out of court, through the use of a neutral and skilled mediator. Closed mediation is a confidential process that ensures the family's personal and financial matters are kept out of the public court setting.
Specially trained lawyer mediators have the legal knowledge to effectively facilitate and evaluate negotiations between the parties over all issues of a separation including, parenting, support and property issues. However, no legal advice is provided to the parties by the mediator and each party should obtain their own independent legal advice (ILA) before, during and after mediation.
Collaborative Family Law is a voluntary process that has become increasingly popular over the years in North America. Parties who value mutual respect, civilized communications, and overall fairness, choose this approach to resolve custody, access, support and property issues. Upon separation, the parties and their lawyers sign a collaborative practice participation agreement to avoid court. The process requires them to be courteous and to act in good faith with one another.
There has been an evolving trend to focus on parenting schedules as opposed to placing a label on who has custody of the children. Child support is determined by the amount of time each parent has with the child not necessarily by the custodial label. The table amount of child support may be adjusted for parents who spend at least 40% of the time with the child.
If there is a court order or domestic contract requiring a person to pay child or spousal support and that party fails to pay, the recipient can request the Family Responsibility Office (FRO) to enforce the support payments. If FRO is unable to collect the support through garnishments or payments by the payor and there are substantial arrears, this branch of the government can seek an order to suspend the payor’s driver’s license, passport, garnish bank accounts or tax refunds.
There is concern that taking away a payor’s vehicle will impact that person’s ability to get to work in order to pay the support. However, the deterrent is to force payors to ensure their payments are made to support their children or spouse.
A Toronto Star article published in October 2013 cites studies that point to conflicts over money, as a top predictor of divorce. Statistics Canada data reveals that in Canada, 41% of all marriages end in divorce. Other common arguments between spouses include children, in-laws, sex and quality time together. However, disputes over money was overwhelmingly the main indicator of divorce. It is therefore recommended to know your partner’s spending and saving habits. Open and honest discussions between spouses about finances is important for a healthy relationship.