Divorce is one of the most painful procedures anyone can go through. Now, imagine your divorce lasts forever. Imagine that every few years, or even months, you’re constantly rewriting legal agreements and moving money and property around because you didn’t execute your divorce properly.
That’s the risk you take when you don’t hire a family lawyer, or even hire a bad one. Your lack of legal experience and discernment will come back to bite you.
As Vancouver family lawyers with several combined decades of experience, Guardian Law will walk you through the situations where you need a family lawyer, and how much it can pay off to have one throughout the process.
Cases Where A Family law Lawyer Can Help You Out
Here are the eight types of family law issues where you need a family attorney:
- Marriage, separation & cohabitation agreements
- Spousal support
- Division of property & debts
- Custody & Guardianship
- Child support
Since we’re familiar with the first 7 in our practice at Guardian Law, we’ll cover these.
Marriage, Separation, and Cohabitation Agreements:
Imagine these agreements as the blueprints of a house. Just as an architect ensures the blueprint’s design and technical aspects adhere to building codes and regulations, a family lawyer ensures that your agreement is legally sound and safeguards your interests.
In British Columbia, both marriage and cohabitation agreements define the terms and conditions of a relationship, from division of assets to financial responsibilities. However, they need to be carefully tailored and legally compliant to stand strong against the winds of future disputes. A skilled family lawyer can steer you clear of potential pitfalls and ensure that your agreement is enforceable under BC law.
Navigating the divorce process in British Columbia without a lawyer can be like trying to sail across the ocean in a storm without a compass. Even under the best circumstances, divorce can be fraught with emotional challenges and complex legal issues. Note that family lawyers and divorce lawyers have a significant overlap.
A family lawyer provides not just legal advice but also emotional stability during such turbulent times. They help you understand your rights, guide you through the division of property, child custody, and support matters, and advocate on your behalf in court.
Think of mediation as the bridge that can help separated or divorcing couples cross over a tumultuous river. It is a non-confrontational, collaborative approach to resolving family law disputes. But just like any other bridge, it needs solid support from both ends to function effectively.
A family lawyer trained in mediation can facilitate constructive communication between both parties and guide them toward mutually beneficial solutions. All the while, the lawyer will still protect your interests.
Spousal support, or alimony as it’s sometimes called, can be a contentious issue, much like trying to split a pie fairly between two hungry children. Who gets what, how much, and for how long – these are questions that need careful consideration and fair resolution.
A family lawyer can provide valuable assistance in negotiating, calculating, and enforcing spousal support arrangements. Under BC law, various factors influence spousal support, such as the length of the relationship, the roles each party played, and their financial circumstances.
Division of Property & Debts
When a marriage or a common-law relationship ends, the task of dividing family property and debts is often one of the most significant financial events in a person’s life. Aside from children, this can be the part of divorce that is most contentious. It’s not always a straightforward 50/50 split.
Professional appraisals of assets and understanding the subtleties of tax law can greatly impact the final settlement. A good law firm must be equipped with the expertise to ensure that your interests are protected and the division is conducted equitably under the scope of BC law.
Custody & Guardianship
Child custody and guardianship are undoubtedly some of the most sensitive areas of family law. During separation or divorce, ensuring the best interests of the child is paramount.
In British Columbia, ‘guardianship’ refers to the rights and responsibilities towards a child, including their upbringing, education, health, and welfare. ‘Custody’ pertains to whom the child lives with and who makes the daily decisions about the child’s life. You should be familiar with these terms as you navigate a divorce.
Family lawyers strive to help parents create well-designed parenting arrangements that ensure a positive, stable future for their children.
Furthermore, we encourage clients to fully understand their legal rights and obligations in child custody and guardianship matters. It’s the only way to keep your children’s best interests at the forefront.
Understanding child support can be like solving a complex mathematical problem with several variables to consider.
Every math problem has a solution, as does every child support issue. Whether you’re the payor or the recipient parent, it’s crucial to understand your responsibilities and rights. Family lawyers guide you through those hurdles.
14 Reasons Why It’s Better To Hire A Family Lawyer
Deciding to represent yourself in any of the scenarios we mentioned above could end in disaster for you and your family. In the long run, a family lawyer saves you a lot of money and time. Here’s how:
Setting The Stage
Start the divorce right and the rest will follow.
Engaging a family lawyer for your divorce initiates the legal process professionally and systematically. Your attorney will pen a formal letter to your soon-to-be-ex-spouse, notifying them of your legal representation and often encouraging them to seek one too.
It’s best if both parties in a divorce are represented by attorneys. Some legal practitioners hesitate to accept cases where the other party opts for self-representation, as this could lead to blame for the inevitable financial strain that follows.
Putting Your Case In Writing
A significant part of your argument will be presented in written format, often through the use of forms. A divorce attorney will articulate compelling arguments on these forms, which essentially serve as your introduction to the judge. With their legal writing training, attorneys can craft convincing narratives that present your case in the best light. And free of errors, unlike something from an amateur.
Plain answers to the questions on those forms just won’t cut it.
Although these forms might seem straightforward, they require a knowledge of legal procedures and terminology. This includes knowing when and how to use hearsay as part of your argument. Besides, your lawyer can also help navigate the financial paperwork involved in the divorce process.
Ensuring Your Agreements Are Binding
Creating enforceable documents during a divorce process can be challenging without legal consultation. Enforceability issues might not be obvious initially but could cause substantial problems down the line, say. Imagine how many separation agreements are found to be invalid several years down the line! Your documents must be legally binding, otherwise, you might have to resurrect your divorce proceedings every few years.
It’s not just about hiring a lawyer for a few hours to verify your separation agreement, but having them involved throughout the process to monitor the situation. For instance, a lawyer can ensure that your child support agreement complies with federal child support guidelines.
Family law services make it a point to clarify the nature of the agreement and its implications, which is crucial to enforceability. Moreover, having a lawyer involved can be beneficial if you need to alter some terms of the agreement later.
Assessing The Merits Of Your Case
Once you start discussing your case with your attorney, they can evaluate the validity of your concerns. At times, clients approach a divorce attorney with misconceptions and expectations shaped by emotions rather than legal facts.
A lawyer will calmly guide you through this emotionally charged time, helping you distinguish between realistic and unrealistic expectations. Judges typically dismiss baseless arguments, which could negatively impact your case.
Many people mistakenly believe that having an adulterous spouse will translate to a more favourable divorce settlement. However, in Canada, spousal infidelity is not a determining factor in matters like child custody.
Planning for the Future
Navigating the waters of family law issues often requires a keen eye on not just the present, but also the future. When engaged in divorce proceedings, or when dealing with issues around child custody or property division, decisions made now will reverberate for years to come. This is where the expertise of a family lawyer becomes particularly crucial.
An inexperienced person might fixate solely on one number – the alimony payment for instance. However, this number contains potential tax implications. Every divorce-related financial decision, including alimony payments, division of marital assets, and even child support, has consequences.
The impact of these proceedings on retirement plans is another key factor. A family lawyer can guide you in understanding how your retirement savings might be divided, or how future payments could impact your retirement planning. This is how you guarantee you aren’t left in a precarious position post-divorce.
Accessing A Network Of Professionals
Family lawyers have been around the business for a while, and significant value lies in their professional network. Family law often intersects with other fields – from real estate and finance to mental health. A family lawyer can connect you with a wide range of professionals in their network who can provide additional support and expert advice tailored to your circumstances.
Oftentimes, family lawyers collaborate with financial advisors to ensure a fair and equitable division of marital assets, or with real estate appraisers for an accurate evaluation of property. In contentious divorces involving allegations of hidden assets, a family lawyer can bring in forensic accountants to ensure transparency.
Family Lawyers Are Expert Negotiations
Family lawyers are not just legal advisors; they are also skilled negotiators. This expertise can be the difference between an outcome that leaves one party disadvantaged and an agreement that is fair and mutually beneficial.
Divorces and separations involve high stakes and high emotions. A family lawyer knows how to keep their cool throughout the process to ensure you obtain the settlement you deserve. Objectivity and focus are traits of a good lawyer. Their calm disposition and effective negotiation will have positive downstream impacts on every facet of your divorce.
The ability to resolve disputes effectively is crucial in all aspects of family law, from determining child custody arrangements to dividing property and other assets.
Experience In The Court System
Court procedures in family law disputes can be notoriously complex, and judges maintain specific expectations about how they should be carried out. Judges won’t be more lenient if you choose to represent yourself; everyone is held to the same standard.
A family law attorney, well-versed in court processes, will significantly outperform a self-represented individual. Without the necessary knowledge, a person representing themselves might become unreasonable or prolong the process, leading to greater liability and complications in the future. Not to mention, many family lawyers have already built familiarity with judges at courts around BC, which can occasionally work in your favour.
Lawyers Know Courtroom Etiquette
Family law matters necessitate a delicate approach. Lawyers are excellent orators, adept at choosing the right words to leave a positive impression on the judge. Even unintentionally negative remarks can provoke the judge and turn the case against you. Therefore, lawyers will also train you on what to say at the right moments before you get to court.
Inexperience can cause you to prolong the courtroom process. Judges, while patient, have numerous cases to preside over daily and any delay can be frustrating. In fact, in certain situations, the lawyer representing your ex-spouse may let you speak excessively, allowing you to dismantle your own case in the process.
Family Lawyers Know All The Options
With their extensive experience from numerous divorce trials and a deep understanding of the law, family lawyers can provide a wide array of potential solutions. Their creativity in resolving disputes can lead to outcomes that might not have been apparent to you. And if both sides are well-represented, you can come to creative resolutions quicker than expected.
In many cases, a resolution might be achievable without going to court through mediation, which lawyers can assist with. The need for court intervention only arises when there are significant disagreements on the terms of your divorce. In fact, we regard divorce as a last resort.
Managing expectations is an important part of a lawyer’s job. It’s important to never get too high or too low. A family lawyer has been there before and understands the multitude of possibilities. Thus, they can anticipate how a case might unfold. This foresight also aids in formulating negotiation strategies.
As a result, having a sense of what to expect can be extremely beneficial for your mental health.
Investing In A Lawyer Saves You Money
We get it, the prospect of expensive legal fees can make it intimidating to hire a lawyer. However, the cost of not hiring one – such as unfavourable child and spousal support agreements or asset division – could significantly exceed the cost of legal help. And imagine if your contracts aren’t even legally enforceable. You’ll end up paying more anyways, as someone will have to untangle the existing situation. Experienced lawyers can strategize to ensure you obtain a fair deal in your divorce settlement.
In Canadian courts, the losing party often has to cover the winning party’s legal costs. As self-represented individuals frequently lose their cases, they may end up paying legal fees anyway, which they were attempting to avoid in the first place.
Protecting Your Family
In extreme family law cases, you need to act quickly. For instance, you may need to safeguard your child from your ex-spouse. A child protection specialist in family law can be invaluable in such scenarios. They can guide you through complex family justice issues and help connect you with other professionals such as psychologists, social workers, and doctors to provide your child with the necessary support.
Lawyers Get Things Done
Divorce is not something anyone wants to dwell on. The mere thought of divorce can be challenging for some. A divorce lawyer can help expedite the process, sparing you from prolonged distress. Juggling a divorce along with a full-time job can be overwhelming.
Once you decide to part ways with your spouse, moving forward promptly is beneficial. It’s best to minimize stress.
Guardian Law Has The Family Lawyer You Need
If you’re considering divorce, the best family law advice we can give is to go talk to an expert.
You can make all sorts of guesses and comparisons by doing your own research, but don’t let the decision process draw on for too long.
Guardian Law won’t rush you through the process. We’re a family law group that values education, and as such, we want to educate you on your options. You’re still in charge, but we want you to make informed decisions every step of the way.
Reach out to us to book an appointment, and we’ll help bring clarity to your family law case.