Experienced family law legal team
Book a consultation with one of our experienced family law lawyers. We have 5 offices throughout the Fraser Valley – Langley, Abbotsford, Maple Ridge, Surrey and Aldergrove.
Call toll free at 1-855-467-0505.
More about divorce and family law
Whether you need a divorce processed or an agreement drafted, we handle all aspects of matrimonial matters including:
- Divorce (from filing through to litigation, if necessary);
- family law mediation;
- Separation agreements
- Co-habitation agreements
- Prenuptial agreements (a.k.a. marriage agreements)
Specific issues our experienced divorce attorneys handle include:
- child support
- spousal support
- property division
Schedule a consultation with a family lawyer today – call toll free: 1-855-467-0505.
Divorce and Family Law in BC
Most family and divorce lawyers in BC practice only family law. Some do other types of litigation, but more and more often divorce lawyers focus in this area.
Family law involves 2 processes:
- Paperwork – Desk Order Divorces
- Family Law Litigation
Desk Order Divorces
Many divorces are not contested which requires simply drawing up the paperwork to process a divorce in the Courts.
Other types of documents drafted by family lawyers include prenuptial agreements, cohabitation agreements and separation agreements.
Usually a divorce lawyer who processes paperwork also litigates family matters (but not always).
Family Law Litigation
Litigation starts when partners do not agree on ALL of the issues involved. Each divorce scenario is unique and won’t necessarily involve every potential issue. The common issues in dispute are as follows:
- Child Support (although this is becoming less and less of an issue given statutory child support guidelines)
- Spousal Support
- Property Division (including dividing debt)
- Child Custody/Visitation
The Divorce Process in British Columbia
The divorce process differs depending on whether it’s a contested divorce or not. If not, the process is straightforward … but it’s still a really good idea to get legal advice.
When a matrimonial issue is in dispute, litigation ensues. Litigation can end quickly via negotiation agreements; however, in some cases the matter will proceed to a trial.
The steps in litigation also varies whether case is filed in Provincial Court or Supreme Court … although the process is similar … except the Provincial Court process is streamlined considerably.
There are many steps along the way and the process can take several years. Each step along the way is designed to encourage settling the disagreement(s).
Judicial Case Conference (JCC)
A very early step after the lawsuit is filed is a Judicial Case Conference. Each party and their lawyers are required to attend. The JCC is presided over by a Master in the Supreme Court of BC.
The JCC is held in an attempt to narrow the issues and establish a schedule for the litigation. In some cases, a JCC successfully resolves issues.
A mediation may be held at any part of the process. Usually they are held after a JCC and after discovery, but not always. In some cases, there may be more than one mediation along the way. Yes, your lawyer should attend … most do. You definitely want your lawyer present.
Discovery is the over-arching term used for the process of exchanging documents and providing out-of-court testimony. It’s both document-based and oral testimony based. Once documents are exchanged, each party can ask questions of the other party who is under oath. This is called an “examination for discovery”. The examination for discovery is recorded and transcribed by a Court reporter.
If even one issue remains outstanding, the matter is heard in court. The case is always heard and decided by a judge. Juries do not decide matrimonial matters in BC.
Hiring a Divorce Lawyer in British Columbia
If your divorce matter is contested, you want to hire a family lawyer (Langley, Abbotsford and Surrey) who has extensive experience litigating such cases. You do not want to hire a lawyer who exclusively prepares paperwork. You don’t need a family solicitor … you need a litigator who has extensive court experience.
Some lawyers favor settling while others prefer going to court. There are advantages to both types of lawyers. Lawyers who work toward settlement reduce your risk, but you’ll end up compromising your case to some degree.
Lawyers who favor trial go to trial more often, but it’s not without risk. If you aren’t successful, you may pay costs, which can be extensive. Moreover, you may get a Court judgment less favorable than had you accepted an earlier offer. The up-side is you may get a decision very much in your favor … much better than had you negotiated a settlement.
Note, just because you hire a lawyer who is keen to go to trial doesn’t mean you will go to trial. You are the client and you can accept an offer at any time.
Therefore, when hiring a divorce lawyer, think about whether you’re prepared to settle or whether you’re quite certain you’ll be going to trial … and hire the appropriate lawyer for the outcome you expect.