Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Thinking of Separating?

You don’t need to start a court proceeding if you are separating.  In almost all cases, the uncoupling parties can totally resolve their legal issues without starting a lawsuit.  In spite of this, many lawyers, after their initial consultation with you, will automatically suggest you need to start a court action and get Judicial Case Conference (“JCC”)  scheduled.

If your lawyer suggests starting a court action and you agree, your lawyer will start your lawsuit in the Supreme Court of British Columbia because that is the only court that has jurisdiction to decide family property issues in British Columbia.

There is a lot of paperwork involved in starting a Supreme Court action and scheduling a JCC.  Most lawyers will charge at least $10,000 to take their client to the Judicial Case Conference.

If the only issues you have to resolve are support and parenting responsibilities, you should not be in the Supreme Court of British Columbia in the first place.  This is because there is a less formal and less expensive court in BC, the Provincial Court of British Columbia, which has jurisdiction over parenting and support issues, but not over family property division issues.

It is true that many cases settle at the JCC, but you can get to exactly the same settlement stage without each of you having to pay $10,000 in legal fees to get there.
A Judicial Case Conference is a mandatory mediation stage in every family law proceeding started in the Supreme Court of British Columbia.  Once the court action has been started and the other party has been personally served, the next step in the lengthy court process is that a JCC date is usually scheduled.  On the JCC scheduled date, the parties along with their lawyers have a private one hour meeting with a Master of the Supreme Court of BC.  The Master usually sits on the bench as a Judge, but at a JCC the Master steps down from the bench to the mediation table in the courtroom in an attempt to assist the parties get closer to settlement without spending yet more money. 

The Master at the JCC, just any other mediator, has no jurisdiction to make any decisions for the parties, and no jurisdiction to make any orders except with the consent of each party.  In preparation for the JCC, each party swears a Form 08 Financial Statement and exchanges it, along with all the required attachments, with the other party.

You don’t need to wait for a scheduled JCC date to download a Form 08 Financial Statement from the Supreme Court Family Rules Forms, complete it and give it to the other party with all the listed attachments.  You do not have to pay $10,000 each just to have a lawyer tell you that the exchange of the Form 08 Financial Statements is mandatory before an enforceable settlement could possibly be reached.

No lawyer can give advice on whether a family property division proposal is fair, or whether proposed support is adequate under the law without reviewing the full financial disclosure of both parties.

Save yourself and your family huge expense and grief, and rocket yourself closer to settlement of all your legal issues following separation, by coming to talk to me here at Resolution Place.