Many couples going through a separation want the divorce documents finalized and a Certificate of Divorce in their hands as soon as possible in order to cut ties and move on with their lives. However, divorce lawyers know that the legal system does not always accommodate idealistic timelines. In fact, the judicial system can be a long and slow process. With that in mind, there are some steps that you and your divorce lawyer can take to speed up a divorce process. Below, divorce lawyers in Calgary offer their top three tips for an efficient divorce process.
Get Legal Advice Early On from Divorce Lawyers in Calgary
If you are considering a separation or have been approached by your partner to discuss the breakdown of your relationship, one of your first steps should be to talk to a divorce lawyer. Getting sound legal advice from a divorce lawyer in Calgary as soon as possible will have a dramatic effect on how your matter proceeds as the foundation of the separation process will set the tone for all dispute resolutions going forward. Divorce lawyers are problem solvers first and will assist you by providing many dispute resolution options and taking you through the process. As well, speaking with a good divorce lawyer early on will ensure that you are able to make decisions that will be legally enforceable and that you do not need to backtrack on any agreements in the future to ensure they are aligned with the laws in Alberta. Learning your legal rights and obligations up front will ensure a smooth and efficient divorce process.
Respect Disclosure Exchange Timelines
When it comes to separation and divorce, one of the biggest legal hurdles is the exchange of financial disclosure. You and your partner are both entitled to very specific financial documentation within a certain timeframe. Divorce lawyers in Calgary can assist you by providing an outline of all the disclosure you need to provide and reviewing your financial documents to ensure you are complying with your financial obligations. They can also review the other party’s disclosure for missing documents or red flags. The purpose of exchanging financial disclosure is to ensure both parties come to the negotiation table with the same information to make informed settlement offers. The courts in Alberta have made it very clear that a domestic agreement negotiated without full and honest financial disclosure is vulnerable to being reopened by the courts. This is a particular concern where financial disclosure of a significant asset is deliberately withheld or misrepresented by one party. As such, to ensure your divorce proceeds in a timely manner, keep these tips in mind:
- Be forthcoming with all your financial disclosure;
- Provide all requested documents within 30 days of the request from the other party;
- If you are unable to provide any documents explain why and advise how you plan to accommodate this request and a new deadline;
- Organize your financial disclosure in chronological order (or ask your divorce lawyer how they would like it organized); and
- Ask your divorce lawyer how they would like to receive your disclosure (via email, hard copy, USB, Dropbox) and try to provide it all at once instead of on a piecemeal basis.
Facilitate Good Communication with your Divorce Lawyer
Establishing a good working relationship with your divorce lawyer will assist in ensuring your file proceeds in a timely fashion. This includes providing clear and concise communication and following your lawyers guidelines for scheduling meetings and appointments. Divorce lawyers in Calgary usually have extremely busy practices, by using the following tips, you can help facilitate effective communication:
- Respond to emails in a timely manner – usually within 24 hours for simple matters or 72 hours for more complex issues. Of course, your divorce lawyer should never rush you so if you need more time to consider options, simply advise that you are digesting the information and hope to respond by X date. Alternatively, if you need a break from the process for any reason, inform your lawyer and ask them to follow up with you in X weeks or months. They will appreciate being kept in the loop with respect to your timelines.
- Clearly lay out any deadlines – if your listing your house for sale or planning to re-marry, your divorce lawyer needs to know this information ASAP so they can properly advise you of your legal obligations and ensure your timelines are met.
- Book telephone calls or meeting through their legal assistant. It is usually not practical to expect a telephone call within the same day you are booking as lawyers schedules book up weeks in advance. However, urgent matters will always be prioritized so do not hesitate to reach out to their legal assistant if you cannot reach your lawyer directly and need immediate assistance.
Finally, it is important to note that your lawyer cannot predict how long it will take to resolve your matter. Difficult and complex matters are sometimes resolved in a matter of months and conversely relatively simple and straightforward matters can sometimes take years. Unfortunately, there is no maximum time limit for the resolution of your matter and matters such as courthouse filings are out of a divorce lawyer’s hands. By following the above tips you and your counsel can work towards a resolution in an timely matter to ensure your divorce is granted and you can move on with your life.