Am I separated?

When people are married or cohabiting and one of them decides the relationship is over, and there is no prospect of reconciliation, then they are separated.  Sometimes, if two people cannot agree on their separation date, we need to look at the way they were living their lives before and after the date they believe they were separated as there are a number of factors that help make the determination (i.e. did you stop holding yourselves out as “spouses” to the world, did you stop sharing your lives as spouses within your home, etc.) as people can be separated while still living in the same home.

When two people separate certain rights and obligations kick in as of the date of separation.

What is the difference between a Separation Agreement and an Order for Divorce

When people separate (whether they were cohabiting or married) they often negotiate their rights and obligations and set these out in a binding domestic contract, called a Separation Agreement.  This is then the document that provides the rules by which they will live going forward, dealing with parenting, support, the division of the value of property and the family home.   A signed Separation Agreement is not a “divorce” meaning that after the agreement is signed the parties to it remain married.

A divorce, on the other hand, applies to married people only and that is an order that must be made by the Superior Court of Justice determining that the marriage is over, parties are divorced and are then free to re-marry.  In many cases a Separation Agreement has been signed first and then the parties to the agreement will apply to court for their divorce on an uncontested basis.

In some cases, where parties cannot agree on their rights and obligations when a relationship breaks down, they go to court and obtain a court order setting these out. If those people are married then they would likely ask the court to make an order for their divorce at the same time.  In those cases the divorce order will set out the parties’ rights and obligations (in less detail than a separation agreement), as determined by the Court, as well as the order that the parties are divorced.

Will I meet my lawyer online or in-person?

Our lawyers and staff are available to meet you in person at our offices or online by video conference.  It’s up to you.

How does the billing/retainer work?

When you pay us retainer you are really just giving us money to hold on to for you “in trust”.  We deposit that retainer money into a trust account which we cannot use (because it is still your money), except to pay our bill or to pay third parties with your explicit instructions.

For family law matters, every month we will send you an invoice showing the work we have done with an explanation and the associated fee for that work.  We will pay the invoice with the money we are holding for you in trust.  It’s our way of making sure the bill is paid.

If you have any questions about your bill when you receive it please do not be afraid to ask us about it.  We want you to see the value you receive for your money and it is important to us that you understand your account.

What if I can’t afford the retainer?

We offer a number of options that allow our clients to work with us without having to come up with a large retainer at the outset.  These include:

Our services are for everyone.  Please give us a call to discuss the best way we can help you.

I’m dealing with a “narcissist” can you help?

Yes.  We don’t diagnose (because we are lawyers) and we don’t judge.  We can help.  Our lawyers have practiced in family law for many, many years and our experience, along with our continuing legal education, has equipped us with strategies to help us work with people with varying degrees of mental health.  We also have access to family professionals who can also assist as needed.

Do you have experience in situations involving Intimate Partner Violence?

We do, yes, and we require our lawyers to receive continuing training in this area.  We believe it is imperative for all professionals working in family law to receive regular training in intimate partner violence.

Do you have experience working with people who suffer from addiction?

Yes and, again, we don’t diagnose and we don’t judge.  We work with parties and other family professionals as needed to help families achieve the best possible outcome, understanding the ways in which addiction to alcohol or drugs can affect the family as a whole and the options available for resolution.