It is often said that litigation should be a final resort when it comes to resolving a family matter, due to long wait times and the high costs involved. While this can be true, litigation may actually be preferable to alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods such as mediation and arbitration in certain circumstances. When a matter is highly contentious for example, and particularly in the presence of safety concerns, alternative resolution methods are rarely effective due to the parties’ inability to reach a consensus.
Additionally, where a client’s funds are limited, the cost of a private mediator or arbitrator can be prohibitive. Starting the process with ADR can, in some cases, simply create unnecessary costs and waste both parties’ time, so heading to court from the start may be the more appropriate choice. Although if one party is being driven by emotion, a safe mediation environment may help to address the conflict and diffuse the matter immediately. When selecting the most effective process in a family matter, including moving to a trial, securing experienced and skilled legal representation is crucial.
At Mincher Koeman, our lawyers are dedicated to practicing in the area of family law and all related matters. We also have exceptional trial experience. We have argued before all levels of court in Alberta and they are effective and persuasive advocates on behalf of our clients. Our lawyers will always work to resolve matters using the simplest method available. If negotiation breaks down, and alternative methods are not appropriate or fail to resolve certain issues, proceeding to court will be the next step. We will walk each client through the entire trial process from the start so that the client has a full picture of what to expect.
The operation of our firm has been carefully designed to promote efficiency in family matters, whether preparing a client to attend mediation alone or representing a client through the litigation process. We have invested heavily in advanced technology that enables clients and lawyers to share information quickly and allows for the careful and immediate organization of all documentation on a file. Everything is reviewed and organized by staff as it is received, giving the lawyer on the file an up to date picture of the file in real-time. As a result, our lawyers never have to play catch-up on a file for a last-minute court appearance. They are ready to appear at any time, fully prepared to advocate on their client’s behalf.
The trial process can take time, and there are several steps leading up to the trial itself. The process begins with one party filing an application with the court and serving notice on the other party. Following that, depending on the level of court, a case conference or pre-trial conference will be held during which the parties and their representatives will meet in an attempt to resolve some or all of the issues prior to the trial. If issues need to be addressed in the short-term pending the trial, such as interim obligations relating to relief such as spousal and child support and child custody, these will also be addressed. If the case involves a marriage, exclusive possession of the matrimonial home may also be determined for the interim period.
Parties will be required to provide financial disclosure during this process in order to assist with the division of property and the assessment of support awards. Full honesty is required when disclosing financial information. If a party is found to have hidden assets in order to influence the court’s finding at the subsequent trial, they may face additional costs and/or increased support obligations as a result of their dishonesty.
There will often be additional pre-trial conferences to determine how the case will proceed and to make further attempts at settling the outstanding issues prior to trial. If those attempts fail, then the case will proceed to court, and the representatives of each party will present their positions before a judge for a final order on all outstanding matters.
Appeals from the trial decision are less common, as they can be costly and extend the final resolution for another year or more. However, in situations where an appeal may become necessary, our lawyers are prepared to see the matter through this process as well.
Mincher Koeman’s lawyers work smart and we work hard. When a matter proceeds to litigation, we are prepared to appear in court at any time, and skillfully advocate on behalf of their client’s interests. We prepare each file with a view to litigation from the beginning so that we are never caught off guard and can act immediately on time-sensitive issues. Please contact our office to make an appointment to discuss your matter with one of our lawyers today by calling us at 403-910-3000 or by contacting us online.
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