September 28, 2012



The Best Interest of My Client When Separating or Divorcing in Vancouver, BC

When a client is considering separating or has already separated; my role as a vancouer family lawyer is to look out for the best interests of my client.  One client may consult me and be seeking to take everything she can financially and materially from her spouse and inflict emotional revenge.  Another client may consult me and want to settle her separation and/or divorce with fairness and justice for both parties.

I advise every separating client that the legal experts point out that families who choose the litigation system to resolve their disputes, generally harm their children and dissipate their family’s assets.  The court system is not suited to deal with the complexities of interpersonal relations when separating or divorcing couples with children are involved.  It forces the parties to enter into an adversarial process that promotes conflict and is very costly, both financially and emotionally.  The court system is best suited to cases where the family is experiencing physical or mental abuse or there are problems with financial disclosure. 

If there are children involved, the paramount consideration when making decisions that affect the children is “What is in the best interest of the children?”  Sometimes what a parent sees as being in their children’s best interests may well be short-sighted or patently inadvisable for the children.  A parent who wants sole physical custody and restricts the other parent’s parenting time may be reacting based on their emotional needs, not what is objectively best for the children.  I let my clients know when their demands are unreasonable because I am more concerned about the children and what is objectively best for the children than accommodating an angry parent-client.

At the first appointment, I discuss with my client the alternatives to litigation, such as mediation, collaborative law and arbitration.  Instead of promoting conflict, I encourage my client to avoid conflict and help her avail herself of the resources for settling disputes outside the courtroom. 

British Columbia residents will have new Family Law Act on March 18, 2012 and it encourages family law professionals and families to use the alternative dispute resolution process instead of litigation to resolve family law disputes.  One alternative is the collaborative family law process which I am trained in and practice and the goal is to eliminate litigation in family matters.  The parties and their lawyers commit to the process and agree they will not litigate to solve their issues by signing a collaborative participation agreement.  If the collaborative process terminates, the same lawyers can no longer represent their clients as they now attempt to resolve their dispute by litigating.  However, the collaborative process rarely breaks down because the disqualification of lawyers is a significant disincentive.  Another alternative dispute resolution process is the mediation process, and I am a trained family law mediator.  Like the collaborative process, the information learned in the mediation process is deemed confidential and cannot be used in any future litigation.