You probably have a lot of questions. See the answers to our clients’ most frequently asked questions to help you decide if our services are right for your Separation Agreement.
+ We've agreed on everything. Do we really need a written agreement?
Yes, you need a written agreement for family law issues in order for the agreement to be valid and enforceable. A verbal agreement in family law is not legally binding.
+ Our situation is very simple. Can we write our own agreement and have a Notary Public witness it?
The short answer is 'no'. Watch our video: DIY Separation Agreements: Thumbs Up or Down?
It is risky to write your own Separation Agreement or to use a generic kit to prepare an agreement as chances are high that you may leave out an important detail or you may use words that have a different legal meaning than what you intend. If your agreement turns out to be problematic, it can be very expensive and sometimes impossible to correct your error.
Furthermore, if you need bank financing to take over your family home or to purchase a new home, you should know that most banks will not approve your financing on the basis of a home-made Separation Agreement.
Lastly, a Notary Public is not allowed to witness family law agreements.
+ What family law issues can be handled?
In your Separation Agreement, we are able to address all of the issues arising out of your separation that are relevant and important to you, including:
-Determination of family property and debt
-Division of family property and debt (for example, documenting the details of one of you buying the family home from the other so that you can get bank re-financing approved)
-Parenting arrangements and parenting time (formerly referred to as custody and access)
-Special and extraordinary expenses for your children (such as daycare expenses, extra-curricular activities, medical expenses, etc.)
-Spousal support (also known as alimony)
-Decision-making and communication guidelines
-Interim arrangements, such as use of the family home, management of household expenses, and support, pending the final transfer or sale of the family home
-Other details specific to your family.
+ How is child support calculated?
We use DivorceMate software, which is the standard software used by lawyers and judges to determine both child support and spousal support, a.k.a. alimony. To give you a preliminary idea of your potential child support, here is a link to a free simple child support calculator: https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/fl-df/child-enfant/2017/look-rech.asp
Please note that in most cases we have detailed discussion around the appropriate amount to input into the calculator in accordance with the Federal Child Support Guidelines. Using the wrong amount could drastically skew your expectations.
+ What is the Family Law Act?
The Family Law Act is the legislation in British Columbia which governs the issues arising out of separation for separating couples in British Columbia, including parenting time, child support, division of assets and debts, and spousal support, a.k.a. alimony.
Our mediator will provide you information regarding the Family Law Act and issues that you need to consider when deciding on the terms of your Separation Agreement.
+ What's so great about E-Mediation?
E-Mediation is an incredibly flexible, comfortable, and time-saving process.
We use a platform called Zoom. This service is free for our clients and is very easy to use. You can access the video chat ‘meeting room’ from your phone, tablet or computer through a link that we will provide to you by email.
Watch our short video on the 7 Reasons We Love E-Mediation.
+ How can I know if mediation is right for us?
This is a stressful time and it can be difficult to figure out the right thing to do. We've created a short Questionnaire to help you decide if mediation is appropriate for you.
+ Am I committed to the mediation process if I attend the Initial Consultation?
No, not at all.
The purpose of the Initial Consultation for Family Law Mediation is for you to get to know the mediator, to understand the mediation process, and to confidentially provide any information that you feel will help the mediator successfully guide the family mediation process for you.
The Initial Consultation is also an opportunity for the mediator to ensure that the mediation will be a safe and appropriate process for your family situation before you get started.
You will only proceed to mediation if you and your spouse both agree to do so after you have each had your own private and confidential Initial Consultation.
+ What happens if I'm not comfortable?
We encourage you to let us know what will help you through the process.
Meetings will be based on your preference of video chat, phone or in person. We can take breaks as needed during your meetings if you are feeling emotional.
However, if you decide that the process is not right for you, you are free to discontinue your participation at any time.
+ I've heard mediation is the most cost-effective way of handling separation. Is that true?
Yes! Family law mediation allows you to share the cost of one professional rather than each hiring your own lawyers.
The process is cooperative and therefore generally proceeds much faster than the traditional adversarial legal process which also keeps the cost down.
In addition, we provide our clients with the peace of mind of a unique flat fee package so that they know exactly what cost they are incurring from the beginning.
+ How long is the family mediation process?
This will depend on the complexity of your circumstances and how far along you are in your discussions.
The vast majority of couples who work with us on a Separation Agreement are able to reach the terms of agreement within 1 - 2 joint meetings. Higher conflict cases may require 3 or more meetings.
We can usually provide you with the first draft of your Separation Agreement within a few days of the meeting in which you decide on the terms that you would like included in the agreement.
This short video explains The Modern Separations Process.
+ What is included in your flat fee package?
The 4-week flat fee package includes: up to 2 joint meetings with the mediator and the drafting of the Separation Agreement, if an agreement is reached, within 4 weeks from the date of the first joint meeting. Please call or email us for current pricing.
+ What if we need more than 2 meetings?
If you need more than 2 meetings, we offer a reduced rate 1-week flat fee package, which includes 1 joint meeting with the mediator and the drafting of the Separation Agreement, if an agreement is reached, within 1 week of the additional joint meeting.
+ Why is the flat fee package time-limited?
We have found that our clients enjoy the certainty of a flat fee (rather than the unknown of the billable hour).
In order to make the flat fee process financially viable for our small business, we have to create an end-point to the usage of our services.
In addition, we have found that having a time-limited process 1) helps clients focus on the issues (which may be uncomfortable and tempting to delay), 2) encourages clients to focus on their most important needs and wishes; and 3) discourages clients from getting bogged down in small issues (which could otherwise result in endless argument).
Our 4-week flat fee package is designed to help clients move on with life.
+ Do you guarantee success?
The vast majority of our clients complete a signed Separation Agreement within our 4-week flat fee package. Of course, mediation is a human process and we cannot guarantee success as it is greatly dependent on the approach of the particular individuals involved.
+ How can I start getting organized?
You can start gathering your financial information. You don't need to have all of the documents ready before starting family mediation but it can save you some time during the process if you are fairly organized. We've prepared a Checklist to help you get organized.