Read this guide to learn about the steps on how Hendrikx Family Law approaches a legal family matter and the family law process.
The process begins with an initial meeting with one of our lawyers.
This initial consultation will be an overview meeting which will involve a full discussion around the circumstances of your family law matter, the main issues requiring resolution and the scope of our firm’s representation.
If you would like to proceed with having our firm assist you, we will ask you to sign a Retainer Agreement, which details the services to be provided, the cost and whether you are retaining the firm on a full basis or for limited scope services.
Observations and Analysis
We will provide some observations with respect to the legal issues to be resolved and provide a proposed plan of action.
There are numerous dispute resolution processes available to parties to settle outstanding issues. Depending on the circumstances of your matter, we may recommend negotiation, mediation, arbitration, or litigation to achieve resolution.
Negotiation between lawyers and the family is a common way of resolving family law disputes.
As a part of the process, the parties will exchange financial disclosure and prepare financial statements. Sometimes a four-way meeting is arranged between the parties and their lawyers for the purpose of narrowing and/or settling issues.
The outcome of a negotiated settlement can be a Separation Agreement. This is a comprehensive contract that governs your rights and responsibilities surrounding the breakdown of your relationship.
Mediation is a confidential and private process in which both parties must agree to take part. Mediation is not appropriate in all cases.
Trained mediators are neutral third parties who facilitate negotiation and communication between parties or between lawyers and parties. A mediator cannot make a binding decision but can guide parties towards a full or partial settlement of issues.
Prior to entering the mediation process, parties must be screened for power imbalances to ensure there is no history of intimidation, violence, or abuse in the relationship.
Arbitration also involves the use of a neutral third party to assist with a settlement of issues. However, in the arbitration process, arbitrators essentially act as private judges and can make binding decisions.
Parties must obtain independent legal advice on signing an Arbitration Agreement and entering the arbitration process before the arbitrator can make a binding decision called an “Award.”
Court is usually the last resort in family law matters.
The court is useful when an impasse is reached that cannot be resolved between the lawyers.
Court may also be necessary where there is a financial or power imbalance affecting the parties’ ability to negotiate a settlement.
During the initial meeting, any concerns about domestic violence, substance abuse, fear and power imbalances in the relationship must be addressed, as these issues can significantly impact the resolution of family law matters.
The above factors will be an important consideration in formulating a proposed plan of action in your case.
If, at any time, you fear for your safety or the safety of your children, you must contact the police immediately. The police are best suited to resolve issues of threats and violence.
The Plan Forward
The choice of which process is used must be a deliberate, strategic and informed decision.
The overwhelming majority of cases are resolved through direct negotiation or assisted negotiation resulting in a Separation Agreement.